1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
FAX 847.296.3769

February 27, 2002

The Honorable Allan Rutter
Federal Railroad Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
c/o Docket Clerk
Docket Management System
Room PL-401
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20590-0001

RE: FRA Interim Final Rule Concerning Use of Body Belts in Fall Protection (Docket No. FRA-2001-10426)


Dear Administrator Rutter:

The purpose of this letter is to offer the views of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) on the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Interim Final Rule (67 FR 1903; January 15, 2002) addressing various Railroad Workplace Safety issues, including the use of body belts as a component of personal fall arrest systems.

Since ASSE has long enjoyed a professional relationship with FRA, we will forego an introduction to the Society and simply include a fact sheet with this comment. It is important to note, however, that ASSE is the oldest and largest society of safety professionals in the world, having been founded in 1911 and with a current membership of over 30,000 safety, health and environmental professionals.

Citing ANSI Z359.1 Standard

ASSE's intent with these comments is not to speak for or against the proposal as a whole. Rather, we urge FRA to cite the ANSI Z359.1-1992 (reaffirmed 1999) standard titled Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems Subsystems and Components by reference in the body of the final rule. The standard represents the collective and most current knowledge of those professionals whose expertise is directed to the prevention of falls.

ASSE is the Secretariat of the ANSI Z359.1-1992 (recently reaffirmed in 1999) standard titled Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems Subsystems and Components. This approved American National Standard provides the best available guidance on the overall issue of fall protection. A copy of the standard for review by FRA is enclosed.

We have seen where federal agencies, including OSHA, have used the standard as a source document in past regulatory initiatives. FRA rulemaking concerning fall protection would be more complete and better served if coordinated with the existing Z359.1 Standard and other Z359 fall protection projects accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Several of these accredited projects directly impact the issue body belts and the ANSI Z359 standards, including the following:

  • ANSI Z359.0, Fall Protection Program. This accredited project establishes guidelines and requirements for a managed fall protection program, including fall hazard assessment, elimination or control of fall hazards, rescue and evacuation plan, training, inspection, and program evaluation.

  • ANSI Z359.2, Positioning and Restraint System. This accredited project establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, test methods, instruction, use, maintenance and removal from service of connectors, belts, harnesses, lines and anchorage connectors comprising personal positioning and restraint equipment.

  • ANSI Z359.3, Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems. This standard establishes requirements for components, subsystems and systems used in assisted-rescue and self-rescue activities associated with use of fall protection equipment and systems. These requirements include criteria for performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, use, maintenance and removal from service for such equipment.

By including the above standards, the FRA would be following the tenets of the Morella Amendment of the Technology Transfer Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-113) and the February 19, 1998 Office of Management Budget Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.

Voluntary Standards Setting Process

The importance of the voluntary standards setting process is well documented and widely accepted. ASSE's enclosed Position Statement The Role of Consensus Standards in Occupational Safety and Health provides an excellent overview of the voluntary standards setting process and, more particularly, the issue of citing by reference voluntary national consensus standards. If such a citation is not appropriate for this Interim Final Rule, we cordially but formally request a written response indicating why such recognition is not justified.

Finally, the Z539 Committee would like to encourage increased participation from government agencies in accordance with Circular Circular A-119. Staff of the Department of Transportation and FRA would provide excellent insight and added expertise to the activities surrounding the Z359 standards. Enclosed also with these comments is a membership application for the Committee. Hopefully, DOT and FRA staff will consider submitting applications for membership.

ASSE is committed to assisting with any initiative that will enhance and improve workplace safety. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you in the future.


M.E. "Eddie" Greer, CSP
ASSE President, 2001-2002

Copy To:

ASSE Board of Directors
ASSE Council on Practices and Standards
ASSE Council on Professional Affairs
ASSE Governmental Affairs Committee
ASSE Standards Development Committee
ANSI Accredited Z359 Executive Committee

Click here to go back to the ASSE Federal Statements and Testimony page.

Click here to go to Hot Issues and Updates from the
                   Council on Practices and Standards (CoPS)

Click here to go to Standards Development Issues

Click here ANSI Z359.1-1992 (R 1999) Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems.