Al Hillo




12/16/2021 SELF-RETRACTING DEVICE UPDATE: FallTech anticipates that the effective date of ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 will be delayed by six months to February 1, 2023 as a result of a full ANSI Z359 Committee vote in response to an extension request from the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA).

On June 17, 2021, ANSI/ASSP approved the new 2021 revision of Z359.14, Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices (SRDs) for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems. This revision supersedes the 2014 version. This is an important date for both manufacturers and end users when it comes to ANSI compliance while using self-retracting devices. In this white paper, we will review the changes to the Z359.14 standard as interpreted by FallTech and discuss the compliance timeline and what that means for equipment you are using today.

The objective of this white paper is to educate end users, buyers, employers, distributors, safety professionals, engineers, competent pPersons, and more about the changes to the ANSI/ASSP Z359.14 standard.

At a high level, the 2021 changes to the ANSI/ASSP Z359.14 standard are designed to:

1. Simplify types and classes of SRD’s so end users can quickly identify a compliant product’s capabilities
2. Increase factors of safety on multiple components and tests
3. Introduce a new testing regime for personal SRD’s or SRL-P’s (those worn on the back, connected to the full body harness), including specific tests to address product issues that led to a manufacturer recall
4. Further standardize labels and markings to make clear an ANSI compliant product’s capabilities

Self-Retracting Device Types and Classes 

Since ANSI first began classifying SRDs in 2012, FallTech has repeatedly received questions or encountered end users who misunderstand the meaning of SRD classifications. Such misunderstandings could lead to a serious injury or death.

In the previous revisions of Z359.14, SRDs were organized by type (SRL, SRL-R for devices with rescue/retrieval functions, or SRL-LE for devices with leading edge capability) and class (Class A or Class B). The intent was to organize SRDs by features in “Type” and then by their overhead performance capability by “Class.” However, the Class A/B performance was commonly applied to non-overhead anchorage situations, which led to improper fall clearance calculations, potentially causing serious injury or death.

Both types and classes have been overhauled in 2021: “types” are SRL, SRL-P for personal devices meant to be installed on the user’s full body harness, or SRL-R for devices with rescue/retrieval functions, and “classes” are Class 1 or Class 2. Rather than dictating overhead performance, the SRD class now dictates the acceptable anchorage locations. Class 1 devices are suitable for at or above dorsal D-ring anchorage locations. Class 2 devices are suitable for above, at, or up to 5 feet below the dorsal D-ring anchorage locations AND must be leading edge rated. So, if you or your customer’s jobsite has edge exposures and you need a leading edge SRL or SRL-LE, you will be looking for a Class 2 device in compliance with ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021! Coincidentally with the type and class changes, Z359.14-2021 also introduced standard overhead performance criteria for all SRDs as well as standardize class labeling. Now a worker can quickly identify the right device for the hazards faced in their work zone.Screen Shot 2022 09 15 at 11.58.05 AM

Product Testing Program Expansion 

The 2021 version of Z359.14 includes a significant expansion to the volume and severity of testing required to comply with the standard. Most of these changes are intended to improve safety factors and address specific known hazards or applications of SRDs. While the testing of the products mainly affects manufacturers and test labs, it’s important to understand how these changes may impact the way in which these devices are deployed and used in the field. Below is a list of some of the important changes:

  1. Performance criteria has changed for all compliant SRDs when tested in overhead anchorage applications.
  2. Requirements for Hot, Cold, and Wet conditioned testing are the same, but the number of tests is increased.
  3. The test mass for all dynamic drop tests has increased to 310 lbs. from the previous 282 lbs. This change was made so a test mass equal to the ANSI maximum allowable user capacity, including clothes, tools, gear,etc.
  4. Static strength testing load was increased to 3,600 lbs. from the previous 3,000 lbs. With this change, all compliant SRDs will now have a true 2:1 safety factor.
  5. New static test to ensure the locking mechanism on SRDs that do not use an internal brake can withstand a minimum load of 1,800 lbs.
  6. New dynamic test to ensure that SRDs with an internal brake have sufficient reserve lifeline in the event of a fall while the SRD’s line constituent is fully paid out or deployed.
  7. SRL-P’s have several new, specific test

a. 6-foot free fall dynamic performance test:
b. Twin or dual-leg devices will be dynamically tested with both leg-end connectors attached to ensure proper deployment of energy absorbers and provide warning if arrest forces may exceed 1,800 lbs.
c. Tie-back or Wrap-back SRL-Ps have additional static testing to validate the strength of the tie-back section when secured around an anchorage
d.Custom connectors for SRL-Ps have additional testing requirements

Ultimately, this standard has introduced more static testing, more dynamic testing, more application specific testing, more application relevant testing, and increased factors of safety to continue to improve the quality of SRDs in the fall protection market and to continue saving lives.

This White Paper article republished with permission from FallTech.

View our other blog posts related to Personal Protective Equipment.


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