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ANSI/ASSE Z359.1 Revision Approved for Fall Protection Standard

08/23/2016
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The revision of ANSI/ASSE Z359.1, Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Components, recently received final ANSI administrative approval. Z359.1 underwent fundamental changes from the 2007 version. Essentially, it is a new standard with regard to technical content, not simply a revision of the requirements in the previous editions.

First published in 1992 as the first American National Standard for personal fall arrest systems in non-construction occupations, Z359.1 was revised in 2007 when it was accompanied by new standards for managed fall protection program elements, positioning and travel restraint systems, and rescue systems. Another separate standard provided the definitions common to all Z359 standards. In the intervening years, new standards have developed for the products and systems covered by the 2007 version, and its requirements have been superseded. This set of ANSI/ASSE Z359 standards is referred to collectively as the Fall Protection Code.

The revised Z359.1 provides a key to understanding and applying the standards within the ANSI/ASSE Z359 Fall Protection Code, as well as a single point of reference to define compliance with the code. This allows organizations to identify a single standard when accepting the code as a single document, ANSI/ASSE Z359.1.

The Fall Protection Code encompasses standards for personal fall protection systems that incorporate a full body harness, intended to protect the user against falls from a height either by preventing or arresting free falls. In general, systems that prevent a free fall are preferable to systems that arrest a free fall. The types of systems addressed by the code include:

  • fall restraint systems;
  • work positioning systems;
  • rope access systems;
  • fall arrest systems;
  • rescue systems.

The interdependence of the Z359 standards is key to their use as a Fall Protection Code. Although the equipment aspect of fall protection may be the most visible element, all of the standards must be implemented to create a safe and truly compliant fall protection system and program.

For example, training, fall hazard surveys and procedures are critical to safely identifying, evaluating and controlling fall hazards based on the hierarchy of controls, and are integral to an overall program. These elements are covered in Z359.2. Further, it is becoming more common, or required in some cases, for a qualified person such as an engineer to design the overall system. Design includes selecting the system, ensuring strength of the anchorages, specifying equipment components, preparing use and rescue procedures and verifying training implementation. Requirements for engineered systems are found in Z359.6. In addition to creating consistency and minimum requirements for product manufacturers and distributors, the product standards provide organizations guidance on the use and limitations associated with the specific product category.

Fall Protection Code standards are constantly evolving and regularly revised in conformance with ANSI requirements. Z359.1 will be kept up to date as new standards and revisions are developed and published.

The code requires that products meet the current version of the applicable standard when purchased. Products in use when new standards or revisions to existing standards become effective can continue to be used until they are removed from service.

 

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