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A New Era for an Old Standard
A Review of Proposed Changes to ANSI Z359.1-1992(R1999)
- Estimated Publish Date : June 2007

A new era is in the making for fall protection and the related industries that make use of the equipment. The American National Standards Committee on Standards for Fall Protection has proposed significant changes to the existing ANSI Z359.1 fall protection standard. The proposed changes will alter the standard from its current state, addressing only fall arrest equipment, to a more encompassing standard that addresses managed fall protection programs, work positioning and work restraint systems and rescue equipment.

An additional part of the standard will also address definitions. The original standard, as written in 1992 and revised in 1999, was intended to be the first in a series of standards to address a comprehensive fall protection program. Only now are the remaining items in the series, those addressing equipment and programs outside the realm of fall arrest, coming to fruition. The intent of this review is to provide the reader with an understanding of the standard currently in use as well as the proposed changes to the standard and how they will affect general industry.

History of the standard
ANSI Z359.1 was originally published in 1992 to address technological advances in fall arrest equipment that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. Fall protection equipment and programs advanced rapidly, outpacing preexisting national standards and government regulations. Several industry specific standards did exist, but most of them were considered outdated. To that end, the United States Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) representing national fall protection issues to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) formed a committee to address the lack of fall protection standards, as recommended by the American National Standards Institute’s Safety and Health Standards Board.

The committee drafted and voted on the Z359.1 standard and the American Society of Safety Engineers became the secretariat. The standard applied only to fall arrest equipment in occupational and non-occupational activities, with the exception of the construction industry, which has its own standards. The standard addressed fall arrest equipment including harnesses, lifelines, lanyards, energy absorbers and anchorage connectors and elements of the equipment including rope, straps, thread, thimbles and connectors.

Proposed Changes to the Fall Protection Standard
The primary change to the existing ANSI Z359.1 fall protection standard is significant, but will not have overwhelming ramifications for manufacturers, employers and users of fall protection equipment. The one standard that is currently in existence, Z359.1, will be expanded to encompass a family of related standards. The proposed standards are:

Keep Current And Stay Competent With Training That Meets New ANSI Z359.2 Standard
New ANSI Z359.2 adds significant changes to the old standard to help ensure safety. The new standard, ANSI Z359.2 “Minimum Requirements for a "Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program”, clearly provides employers and employees alike with the ability to consistently offer training on the use and operation of fall protection. The new standard clearly identifies the responsibility of an employer to adhere
to the following:

ANSI Z359.3 Changes Address Positioning And Travel Restraint Systems
A work positioning system allows a worker to access a vertical work area. These systems are used in tandem with a fall protection system, covered by the guidelines of ANSI Z359.1. A travel restraint system prohibits a worker at heights from moving into an area where a fall hazard is present. Capital Safety has product solutions to meet all of the elements covered in the new ANSI Z359.3 standard. The new standard covers:

  • Requirements for workers
  • Work positioning systems
  • Travel restraint systems
  • Lanyards
  • Harnesses
  • Hardware

Requirements Established For Rescue Systems Under ANSI Z359.4
ANSI Z359.4 is a new standard that affects assisted-rescue and self-rescue systems, subsystems and components. An essential part of any fall protection plan is a rescue plan. The addition of this standard ensures that equipment used to rescue workers after a fall is just as protective as the fall arrest equipment itself. The standard covers:

  • Safety requirements
  • General system standards
  • Full body harness
  • Self-retracting lanyard components
  • Synthetic rope
  • Descent devices
  • Personnel hoists
  • Testing, training and inspection

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