Personal energy absorbers and lanyards: Upcoming changes on February 1, 2020 to CSA Standard Z259.11-17 3M Protecta Pro-Stop Shock Absorbing Lanyard

The science of safety equipment and it's proper use is always bringing us forward with changes. This February 1, 2020, CSA Standard Z259.11-17 has three main areas of updates for fall protection equipment energy absorbers and lanyards (often called shock absorbers or shock absorbing lanyards), with many updates within these areas. These changes affect your fall protection program, the equipment chosen for the job, and even the equipment made available for workers.

Here are some key points from the CSA Standard Z259.11-17 Changes:

1. Instructions on how to properly select and use energy absorbers and lanyards has been changed. In addition to the changes in design we saw in 2017, the new 2020 changes indicate manufacturers will be required to provide more information on the selection, use and life-span of this fall protection equipment. The performance of an energy absorber, or how the 'p' factor is calculated, has changed and the user now has to consider both their weight and free fall distance when choosing a lanyard/energy absorber.

2. Manufacturers are now required to provide End-of-Service recommendations on this equipment.

3. Energy Absorbers are going to be designed differently so they perform with more accuracy depending on the user's weight and free fall distance. The tolerable load that can be placed on a user who experiences a fall has been drastically reduced. The way the lanyards effectiveness is tested before sale has also been made more robust, with a greater variety of fall scenarios tested for effective protection.

4. The seven (7) classes of lanyards we have have include Y classes, or what is often called "2-legged lanyards." Some considerations on using a Y-lanyard in combination with other lanyards or fall equipment will be issued.

OVERALL - The changes mean that selecting lanyards with energy absorbers will be more complicated because free-fall distance and worker masses will be variable between worker. Further complicating the issue, it will be users’ or employers' responsibility to correctly select products suited to their mass and application. Overall, the safety factors and considerations are strengthened by more accurately fitting a shock absorber to the worker and a specific job fall hazard, though this also increases the learning and awareness required when planning job tasks.

For more information check out some valuable online resources such as 3M's article below, or take one of our Working At Heights courses for the most current CPO-Approved training program.

Sources:

3M - CSA Changes: Personal Energy Absorbers and Lanyards

CCOHS - Body belts, harnesses and Lanyards

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