Ansi Committee Proposes Fall Protection Standard Changes

An American National Standards Institute committee has proposed significant changes to the current ANSI Z359.1-1992 Fall Protection Standard. As it now


An American National Standards Institute committee has proposed significant changes to the current ANSI Z359.1-1992 Fall Protection Standard. As it now addresses exclusively fall-arrest equipment, the standard as revised would include managed fall-protection programs, work positioning, work restraint systems, and rescue equipment.

The existing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, 1926.502 – Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices, has not incorporated the ANSI standard by reference, as OSHA elsewhere incorporates ANSI standards in its regulations. Nonetheless, ANSI generally dictates acceptable industry practice. While the standard’s effect on future regulations is unknown, that impact is likely to register as the federal government cites ANSI Z359 as a reference in justifying regulatory changes.

Proposed changes to the ANSI standard include:

  1. ANSI Z359.0: Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest

  2. ANSI Z359.1: Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Components Û Changes proposed in this section may eliminate the use of regular chain gates with a snap or post to catch the eye of the restraining chain’s last loop. The load that a gate face must withstand will be increased from 220 to 3,600 lb.; the side of the gate must withstand 3,600 lb. (up from 350 lb.); and, the minor axis of noncaptive eye snap hooks or carabiners must withstand 3,600 lb. The tensile load that the snap hook or carabiner must be able to withstand will remain at 5,000 lb. Among platform gates, a one-way swinging design typically has been preferred, since the gate remains closed when not in direct use.

    Additionally, stipulations concerning harnesses with front-mounted D-rings will be altered to allow their use only in the case of a fall two feet or less with a maximum 900-lb. arrest-force load. The front-mounted ring originally was intended strictly for use in rescue, work position, rope access, and similar applications.

    Proposed changes also include twin-leg lanyards, which must be marked with several warnings to include the following:

    • Connect only the center snap hook to the fall-arrest attachment element.
    • Do not attach the leg of the lanyard that is not in use to the harness, except to points specifically designated by the manufacturer.
    • Do not rig the lanyard to create more than a 6-ft. free fall.
    • Do not allow the legs of the lanyard to pass under the arms, between the legs, or around the neck.

    Another revision modifies the anchorage load from 3,600 pounds when certification exists to two times the maximum arrest force permitted on the system when certification exists. Precluding the use of pre-engineered systems, this change requires site-specific engineering evaluations prior to use.

    Modifications to equipment rigging and use include the following:

    • Harnesses and fall-arrest systems must be selected and properly sized for the user.
    • Connectors, snap hooks, and carabiners must be compatible with the equipment on which they are used; and, knots must not be tied in lanyards, lifelines or anchorage connectors.
    • Anchorage connectors and vertical lifelines should be kept clear of workplace and environmental hazards.

    Moreover, 11 training provisions address how to select, inspect and use fall-protection equipment.

  3. ANSI Z359.2: Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program Û This completely new section of the standard provides requirements for development and implementation of a fall-protection program. For written programs, the following would be mandatory:

    • Scope, Purpose, Applications, Exceptions, and Interpretations
    • Definitions
    • Policies, Duties and Training. As an integral part of the fall-protection program, training is addressed in depth, citing references and requiring compliance with ANSI Z490.1 training criteria.
    • Fall Protection Procedures
    • Eliminating and Controlling Fall Hazards
    • Rescue Procedures. Techniques are stipulated for the rescue of persons who have fallen and are suspended in their fall-protection harnesses. Rope access, rescue procedures, incident investigations, and evaluation of program effectiveness are also detailed. The standard requires evaluation of the area where rope access is to be implemented by means of a system incorporating a working line, a safety line, and a full-body harness. Further, proper maintenance and inspection procedures and requirements for rope material are cited. Also included is the provision that if emergency services are not able to respond in a timely manner to a request for assistance, or if they do not have adequate equipment, then in-house rescue procedures and trained personnel should be available.
    • Incident Investigations
    • Evaluating Program Effectiveness. Besides routine evaluations at intervals of no more than two years, thorough investigation and proper documentation must promptly follow the occurrence of any incident.
    • References
    • Figures

    Guidance for the preparation and implementation of fall-protection procedures Û based on the results of a fall hazard survey report Û constitutes a key element of this section of the standard. In a bureaucratic flourish, specific responsibilities are cited, possibly to fill the above-mentioned written program requirements:

    • Employers are responsible for drafting a policy statement that includes goals and guidance for a managed fall-protection program. Additionally, employers are required to appoint a program administrator, eliminate or control fall hazards, develop and maintain fall-protection and rescue procedures, and provide fall-protection equipment, knowledge and training.
    • Program Administrator is responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and evaluating the fall-protection program. Duties include providing guidance to all others involved with the program, establishing a procedure to identify fall hazards, developing protection and rescue procedures, providing training, and participating in incident investigations.
    • Qualified Person supervises the design, selection, installation, and inspection of fall-protection equipment and participates in incident investigations.
    • Competent Person is the immediate supervisor of the fall-protection program. Responsibilities include conducting fall hazard surveys; identifying potential hazards and stopping or limiting work at the hazard site; supervising selection and use of equipment; verifying that equipment is compliant and workers are trained; participating in investigations; and, conducting equipment inspections and removing damaged equipment from service.
    • Authorized Person is the primary user of fall-protection equipment. Responsibilities include alerting others of potentially hazardous conditions and proper equipment inspection, use, maintenance, and storage.
    • Competent Rescuer is responsible for developing rescue procedures, verifying that rescuers are adequately trained, ensuring that rescue equipment is protected from damage, and evaluating rescue procedures and equipment.
    • Authorized Rescuer is the primary user of rescue equipment. Responsibilities include identifying hazards in the workplace where a rescue may occur, verifying that rescue procedures are in place, and inspecting rescue equipment.
    • Qualified Person Trainer, Competent Person Trainer and Competent Rescuer Trainer, i.e., all safety trainers, must be knowledgeable in standards, regulations, equipment and systems for fall protection and rescue; and, they must evaluate the knowledge and skills of trainees.
  4. ANSI Z359.3: Safety Requirements for Positioning and Travel Restraint Systems Û According to the proposed new standard, travel restraint systems are only to be used in areas that have a slope between zero and 18.4 degrees. This section of the standard covers design requirements for workers, weighing between 130 and 310 pounds, who use positioning or travel restraint devices. It does not address any descent or motorized devices that attach to either system. Five parts to this section include:

    • Scope, Purpose, Application, Exceptions, and Interpretations
    • Definitions
    • Design Requirements
    • Qualification Testing
    • Marking Instructions
  5. ANSI Z359.4: Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components Û This new section addresses rescue systems utilized in preplanned self-rescue and assisted-rescue applications for one to two persons, specifically citing requirements for their performance, design, marking, qualification, and use, plus user instruction and training. Also covered are maintenance and removal from service of connectors, winches/hoists, descent control devices, rope tackle blocks, and self-retracting lanyards with integral rescue capability comprising the rescue systems. This section of the standard comprises the following divisions:

    • Scope, Purpose, Application, Exceptions and Interpretations
    • Definitions
    • Requirements
    • Qualification Testing
    • Marking and Instructions
    • Equipment Inspection, Maintenance and Storage
    • Equipment Selection, Rigging, Use and Training
    • References

OSHA likely will adopt the revisions for its 1926 Subpart M fall-protection regulations for construction. The general industry standard does not have a provision dedicated to fall protection, as the issue is addressed in separate regulations, such as 1910.66 – Powered Platforms for Building Maintenance, 1910 Subpart I Appendix B – Nonmandatory Compliance Guidelines for Hazard Assessment and Personal Protective Equipment Selection, and others. Yet, OSHA enforces temporary fall-protection situations in General Industry using the Construction regulation under the general duty clause. More information on the subject is available from DBI/SALA, Capital Safety, at