A New Family of Fall Protection Standards

Injuries in the workplace can happen daily, and most cases are preventable. The original ANSI Z359 standard, introduced in 1992 and revised in 1999, was intended to be a first in a series of standards to address fall protection and to help keep workers safe. The 2009 and 2007 ANSI Z359Fall Protection Codes offer significant improvements and higher safety standards that will help lead to a safer work environment.

ANSI Z359 fall protection standard was expanded to encompass a family of related standards. The 2009 standards are classified under ANSI Z359.13:


  • Two classes of energy absorbing lanyards (EALs) are classified within the new standards: 6 foot free fall & 12 foot free fall
  • 6 foot EALs must be identified on a white label with black print; 12 foot EALs must be identified on a black label with white print
  • Specific marking requirements for EALs must include the average arrest force, maximum free fall distance and weight capacity of the device on a separate label
  • EALs must have a maximum deployment distance of 48" (previously 42") for free falls of up to 6 feet, and a maximum deployment distance of 60" for free falls of up to 12 feet

The ANSI 359 standards updated in 2007 include the following changes:

  • 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

One of the major additions to the ANSI Z359.1-2007 (and the new ANSI Z359.12) standard is new gate strength requirements. Under this updated standard, snap hooks and carabiners must meet the following:

  • Gate face must withstand a load of 3,600 lbs.—up from 220 lbs.
  • Side of gate must withstand a load of 3,600 lbs.—up from 350 lbs.
  • Minor Axis of a snap hook or carabiner, except those with captive eyes, must withstand 3,600 lbs.—new to standard
  • Tensile load for the snap hook or carabiner must withstand 5,000 lbs.—same as old standard

ANSI Z359.2 provides significant information to help ensure safety by providing employers and employees 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:

  • Identify, evaluate and eliminate (or control) fall hazards through planning
  • Provide proper training of employees exposed to fall hazards
  • Ensure correct installation and use of fall protection and rescue systems
  • Implement safe fall protection and rescue procedures
  • Anchorage strength requirements for fall arrest systems as well as work positioning, restraint and rescue systems

ANSI Z359.3 addresses work positioning systems that allow a worker to access a vertical work area, and travel restraint systems that prohibit a worker at heights from moving into an area where a fall hazard is present. The standard covers:

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

ANSI Z359.4 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
  • Synthetic rope
  • General system standards
  • Descent devices
  • Full body harness
  • Personnel hoists
  • Self-retracting lanyard components
  • Testing, training and inspection

The outlook is that ANSI Z359 Fall Protection Code will promote compliance because the added details provide a better understanding of how to select and use equipment to keep workers safe in all types of environments. Increasing compliance by as little as 1% will protect thousands of workers and could potentially save hundreds of lives.

Source: Capital Safety–Makers of ANSI Z359 Compliant Equipment

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