ANSI approves new fall protection standards

By Lindsey Anderson05 March 2012

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved two American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) standards addressing fall protection - the new ANSI/ASSE Z359.14-2012, Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems, and the revised ANSI/ASSE Z359.4-2012, Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components. The standards are part of the Z359 Fall Protection Code.

The new Z359.14 standard establishes requirements for the performance, design, qualification testing, markings and instructions, inspections, maintenance and storage and removal from service of self-retracting devices, including self-retracting lanyards, self-retracting lanyards with integral rescue capability, and self-retracting lanyards with leading-edge capability (SRL-LE's).

It also establishes requirements for self-retracting devices intended for use in personal fall arrest or rescue systems for authorized persons within the capacity range of 130 to 310 pounds (59 to 141 kg).

ASSE member Tom Wolner, ME, PE, vice president of engineering for Capital Safety and chair of the Z359.4 and Z359.14 subcommittees, said the new standard will change rescue procedures.

"The new Z359.14 standard on self-retracting devices addresses several types of these retractable lanyards and additionally classifies them according to performance. Type A devices, for example, are capable of arresting a fall in less than 2 feet which is very important in situations where fall clearance is limited.

And for the first time, this standard addresses self-retracting devices that may be exposed to a sharp edge in a fall situation. Special testing is included to evaluate and qualify these. Other important additions include expanded requirements for user information and guidelines on inspection expectations depending on the severity of use."

As for the revised Z359.4 standard Wolner said, "The major focus is to emphasize the need for preplanning each potential rescue scenario with the expectation that employers and equipment users will use the code to develop effective rescue procedures.

"This pre-planning process includes analysis of rescue needs, equipment selection, training and periodic evaluation of training effectiveness. The equipment types and performance requirements included in the code were specifically geared toward preplanned rescue events to support this approach."

The revised Z359.4 standard establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, use, maintenance and removal from service of connectors, harnesses, lanyards, anchorage connectors, winches/hoists, descent control devices, rope tackle blocks, and self-retracting lanyards with integral rescue capability comprising rescue systems utilized in pre-planned self-rescue and assisted-rescue applications for one to two persons.

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