Rope Grab

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: July 4, 2021

What Does Rope Grab Mean?

A rope grab is a deceleration device that is part of a personal fall arrest system (PFAS). It travels on a lifeline and automatically engages and locks to arrest a fall. It employs the principle of cam/lever locking, inertial locking, or both, as specified in (OSHA) 1910.66 Appendix C.

Rope grabs are used along with vertical lifelines on which the rope grabs can travel up and down. When used in conjunction with a full-body harness and proper anchorage, they can arrest a worker's fall by seizing on the lifeline rope.

Safeopedia Explains Rope Grab

Workers who perform tasks at heights must be provided with PFASs that adhere to OSHA guidelines. The rope grab is a critical component of any fall protection system that makes use of vertical lifelines. in the event of a fall, the worker's safety will depend on the integrity of the rope and the proper functioning of the rope grab device.

Application Limitations

  • Loading capacity – No more than one person should be attached to a single lifeline. The maximum weight limit, including the weight of the person, clothing, and tools should not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Free fall – The rigging of the restraint system should be such that vertical fall is avoided and the free fall distance is limited to six feet, according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359.1. Rope lifelines are required to have a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 lbs., and should not elongate more than 10% when subjected to a force of 1,800 lbs.
  • Fall clearance – To prevent the worker from coming in contact with an object below, sufficient fall clearance should be provided.
  • Corrosion – Rope grabs and PFASs are often used near corrosive environments such as seawater, sewage and fertilizer plants, and oil and gas plants. Frequent inspection of the equipment should be performed and care should be taken to store the equipment carefully when not in use in order to prevent corrosion that could lead to device failure.
  • Electrical dangers – Rope grabs and PFASs contain metal parts, and there is a possibility of current flowing through them. Extreme caution should be practiced when working near high-voltage power lines.
  • Usage and compatibility – Rope grabs should be used exactly as advised by the manufacturer in the instruction manual and only with those lifelines and supporting components that they are intended to be used with.

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