CSA Z259.11 Standard: A new version of the standard for working at heights

CSA Z259.11 Standard: A new version of the standard for working at heights


Falls constitute a substantial part of injuries occurring on construction sites or when working at heights. When planning the work, it is essential to minimize risks by considering the equipment assembled on the ground, by installing a guardrail, or otherwise, by ensuring that the worker wears a safety harness linked to a fall restraint system. Also, according to the current regulations and standards, as well as the various trades, the safety harness must be fixed to an anchorage system using a fall arrest connecting device that limits the maximum fall arrest force according to specific data.

In January 2017, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) updated the standard Z259.11 Energy Absorbers and Lanyards. This third edition of the standard aims to specify the requirements concerning performance, design, tests, labelling and marking of personal energy absorbers and lanyards. It replaces previous editions published in 2005 under the title “Energy Absorbers and Lanyards” and in 1992 under the title “Shock Absorbers for Personal Fall Arrest Systems”.

Standard CSA Z259.11: Main differences of the third edition

  1. Update of the reference publications
  2. Update of definitions
  3. Addition of a class Y lanyard
  4. Elimination of energy absorber classes E4 and E6
  5. Addition of minimum performance factors, the maximal deceleration force and an average deceleration factor for energy absorbers
  6. Revision of the dynamic fall test
  7. Modification of the lanyard mass test and drop test
  8. Addition of a static resistance test for the Y class lanyard
  9. Addition of new labelling requirements

Impact of the changes to the standard CSA Z259.11 for employers

The changes present a new way of doing things when selecting an energy absorber. Before, at the section about the performance, design, test, marking and instruction requirements concerning energy absorbers used in a fall arrest system, they were classified according to the maximal weight the device could absorb. The purpose of this classification is to reflect the variety of worker height and weight.

In the previous version of this standard, the energy absorber was either classified E4 (45kg-115kg) or E6 (50kg-175kg). In the 2017 version, those two classifications were deleted. From now on, a notification on the product label must warn the user to read the instructions before using the energy absorber as well as indicate the maximum free fall distance, taking into account the anchor point above the D-ring, the maximum deployment, the maximum deployment factor adjusted to the nearest 0.1 as well as a range of allowed masses, which is the weight of the worker with his equipment. The information must be marked or labelled in a durable and readable manner, both in French and English, and also include:

  • the name of the manufacturer
  • the maximum mass of the worker specified by the manufacturer
  • the model number
  • the certification body, if certified
  • the manufacturing date

These modifications provide a greater flexibility for selecting energy absorbers for designers of fall protection systems. This new labelling will facilitate equipment management for companies using several models of energy absorbers. The information on the label also allows the calculation of the necessary fall arrest distance for safe work at heights. As a reminder, we generally consider the following four elements:

  • The length of the connecting device
  • The energy absorbing device deploying distance
  • The height of the worker
  • The security factor

To simplify the identification, the label for absorbers designed for free fall heights 1.8 m or less is now white written in black, and for free fall heights of over 1.8 m, the label is black written in white.

It is important to note that safety equipment compliant with the standard’s previous version can stay in service until the end of the equipment service life.

Communicate with the experts of SPI Health and Safety to help you choose the right equipment and design your fall protection systems.

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