Fixed Lanyard vs. Self-Retracting Lanyard – Which is Better?

There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to safety gear, and it can be tough to know which products are worth your money. If you’re in the market for a fall protection device, you’ve probably come across both fixed lanyards and self-retracting lifelines. But which one is the better investment?

What is a fixed lanyard?

A fixed lanyard is a personal fall arrest system component with a Kermit connector at one end, and either a snap hook or rebar hook at the other. The snap hook or rebar hook connects to an anchorage, while the Kermit connector attaches to the back D-ring of a full-body harness. Essentially, a fixed lanyard does not have any moving parts, which some people believe makes it a safer choice than other lanyards on the market.

A fixed lanyard is exactly what it sounds like – a length of webbing or rope that is attached at both ends to different points. This type of lanyard is typically used for horizontal applications, such as when working on a catwalk or scaffold. They are also commonly used in overhead projects, as the webbing can be easily positioned and secured above the worker.

What is a self-retracting lifeline?

A self-retracting lifeline (SRL) is a fall arrest device that automatically locks when a worker falls or is pulled in a fall arrest situation. It is an ideal solution for many industrial applications where workers are exposed to potential fall hazards. SRLs are available in a variety of lengths and can be used with a variety of fall arrest systems, such as body harnesses, lanyards, and overhead anchorage points.

The advantages of a fixed lanyard

A fixed lanyard is a length of webbing or rope with a snap hook or carabiner at each end. The user attaches one end of the lanyard to their harness and the other end to an anchor point.

The advantage of using a fixed lanyard is that it can be used for multiple applications and can be easily adjusted to the desired length. Another advantage is that they are less likely to tangle than a self-retracting lifeline (SRL).

The advantages of a self-retracting lanyard

While a fixed lanyard will never unexpectedly retract and can be used for multiple applications, there are some definite advantages that a self-retracting lifeline has over its more traditional counterpart. One advantage is that a self-retracting lifeline is always at full extension, meaning that there is less chance of tripping or entanglement. They are also less likely to become tangled or knotted, which can be a hazard with a fixed lanyard.

Another advantage of self-retracting lanyards is that they provide constant tension, which keeps the user firmly anchored at all times. This is in contrast to a fixed lanyard, which can become slack if not used properly. Finally, self-retracting lanyards have an automatic locking mechanism that engages if the user falls, providing an extra layer of safety. This feature is not available on most fixed lanyards.

The disadvantages of a fixed lanyard

The advantage of this type of lanyard is that it is very simple to use – however, there are some disadvantages.

The main disadvantage of a fixed lanyard is that if the user falls, it will come to a sudden stop. This can be extremely dangerous, as it can cause serious injuries such as whiplash or bruising. Additionally, if the fall is from a great height, the user may swing into something and cause further injury.

Another disadvantage of using a fixed lanyard is that they are not adjustable. This means that the user has to be very careful when choosing the correct length for their needs. If the lanyard is too long, there is a risk of them falling and hitting the ground before the lanyard stops them. Conversely, if the lanyard is too short, it may not be able to reach the anchor point.

They also need to be inspected regularly and replaced more often than an SRL. Another disadvantage is that they can be more difficult to use in confined spaces.

The disadvantages of a self-retracting lifeline

While self-retracting lifelines offer many advantages over fixed lanyards, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. One of the biggest disadvantages is that self-retracting lifelines are more expensive than fixed lanyards. They also require more maintenance, as they need to be regularly serviced and inspected. Additionally, self-retracting lifelines can get tangled more easily than fixed lanyards, which can be a safety hazard.

Which is better for you?

There are two main types of fall protection lanyards – fixed-length lanyards and self-retracting lanyards (SRL). Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for the job you’re doing.

Fixed-length lanyards are just that – they have a fixed length that cannot be adjusted. This means that you need to be extra careful when using them, as there is no margin for error. If you misjudge the distance you need to fall, you could easily end up injuring yourself. However, fixed-length lanyards are often cheaper than SRLs and can be used in a variety of different applications.

Self-retracting lanyards are a newer innovation and are becoming increasingly popular. As the name suggests, these lanyards automatically retract when not in use, which prevents them from getting tangled or caught on objects. This makes them much safer to use, as there is no risk of injury if you misjudge the distance you need to fall. However, SRLs can be more expensive than fixed-length lanyards, and they are not suitable for all applications.

How to choose a personal fall protection device

Personal fall protection devices, including fixed and self-retracting lanyards, are worn by workers in order to prevent them from falling or being pulled into dangerous machinery. There are many different types on the market, and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for your needs.

Here are some things to consider when choosing one:

  • The type of work you will be doing
  • The area you will be working in
  • Potential entanglements
  • Wet or corrosive chemicals that may contact the harness or ropes
  • Shock loading due to sudden falls
  • Your budget

Personal fall protection devices can range in price from $200 to $1,000, so it’s important to consider your budget when choosing one. By taking the time to choose the right SRL for your needs, you can help to ensure that you are safe while working.


In conclusion, while fixed lanyards have some advantages, their disadvantages mean that they are not always the best option for users. Self-retracting lifelines offer a more secure and adjustable solution for those working at height. It is important to do your research and decide which product is best for your needs.

NEXT UP: How To Inspect a Self-Retracting Lifeline

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Leon Ashcraft
About Leon Ashcraft

Leon Ashcraft is a Safety Instructor and consultant in Colorado with focus on OSHA, environmental health and safety, transportation safety, oil & gas, rescue operations and construction safety. Learn more about Leon here or connect with him on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium