Thursday, February 4, 2010

ANSI ASSE Z359 Standards of 2007 and 2009; Attempting to Help Reduce Fatal Fall Accidents

Since around 1994 until now, all workplace fatalities have decreased about 12%. This number includes fatalities due to falls. Sounds good right? Work is getting safer, right?
WRONG! In the same time period, fatalities due to FALLS HAVE INCREASED ABOUT 30%. In the USA about 750 people die in fatal
 fall accidents in the workplace every year.

Since around 1994, OSHA has implemented many regulations, there have been many citations, many law suits, and the industry has reacted by creating the ANSI / IWCA I-14.1 and the ASME A-120, yet fatal falls continue to happen. This doesn’t include all the injuries due to falls. That’s another topic.
How do we help everyone do better? What makes fall protection so difficult? It’s complex. Buildings and working conditions are unique. Work practices are varied. Safety equipment is highly varied. Training is variable. Attention to detail is human-based … errors happen, people get complacent … accidents happen.

Now there is the ANSI family of Z359 fall protection standards. In an attempt to help make matters better ANSI / ASSE are trying to get more standardization around technology, equipment and nomenclature, and to help normalize the fall protection practices of everyone globally. The belief is maybe this will help.
At the end of the day the ONLY thing that helps is CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND POLICIES REGARDING FALL PROTECTION == vigilance, proper anchorages, proper work techniques, proper equipment and maintenance of that equipment, training, and safety plans (written in stone).

This is a summary of the Z359 Standards.
ANSI FAMILY of 2007 Z359 Standards (for General Industry, not Construction):

  • ANSI Z359.0 Definitions and terminology used for fall protection and fall arrest
  • ANSI Z359.1 Safety requirements for personal fall arrest systems, subsystems and components
  • ANSI Z359.2 Minimum requirements for a comprehensive managed fall protection program
  • ANSI Z359.3 Safety requirements for positioning and travel restraint systems
  • ANSI Z359.4 Safety requirements for assisted-rescue and self-rescue systems, subsystems and components
ANSI FAMILY of 2009 z359 Standards (for General Industry, not Construction):

  • ANSI Z359.6 Specifications and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems
  • ANSI Z359.12 Connecting Components for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.13 Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards
The ANSI Construction is ANSI A10.32-2004

There are a number of other standards in development at ANSI for which no completion date is set:

  • ANSI Z359.5 Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.7 Requirements for Third-Party and Self-Certification for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.8 Managed Fall Protection Program
  • ANSI Z359.11 Requirements for Full-Body Harness for Personal Fall Arrest System
  • ANSI Z359.14 Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.15 Safety Requirements for Vertical Lifelines for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.16 Safety Requirements for Fall Arresters for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.17 Safety Requirements for Horizontal Lifelines for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
  • ANSI Z359.18 Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
The following have been omitted:

  • ANSI Z359.9 Descent Devices (see ISO 22159:2007)
  • ANSI Z359.10 Reserved
Our overall impression is that, like the ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 for example, it may be several years before OSHA formally recognizes and incorporates by reference these as general consensus standards – therefore, it is not exactly clear how much of the above is “law”. However, over time, these standards tend to reach adoption. Soon, attorneys will use them to the benefit of their clients who believe they’ve been subject to unsafe work conditions, or who have a spouse or parent that has been injured or killed in a fall.

More information can be obtained at:

Our suggestion is this; if a higher standard of safety exists representing common sense, is logical and rational to follow, then do it. You put your kids in child safety seats and seat belts, make them wear helmets when cycling, likewise you should protect your own life as well.
Work Safe. Work to Live. You have one life – protect it!