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ANSI Z359: A New Lift to Fall Protection Standards

Quick Tips #347

ANSI Z359.1-1992 (R1999) safety requirements for fall arrest systems, subsystems and components, was originally created in 1992 to enforce a level of safety for fall protection equipment. Recent changes increased worker safety by requiring updated fall arrest equipment be used to ensure a safer work environment. The standard was also expanded to include a family of approved standards numbered Z359.0, Z359.1, Z359.2, Z359.3 and Z359.4.

ANSI Z359.0: Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest.

This part of the standard was incorporated from the original ANSI Z359.1, Section 2 and is intended to address and better define terminology used throughout the other respective standards and encompasses;

  • Scope, purpose, application, exceptions, and interpretations
  • Definitions
  • List of acronyms

ANSI Z359.1: Safety Requirements for Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Components.

Significant changes from Z359.1 occurred with this update; first, definitions were been moved to Z359.0; however, one of the most significant changes to Z359.1 are the requirements for the gate strength for snap hooks and carabiners which directly affects fall arrest equipment manufacturers. The new strength requirements are as follows:

1. Gate face and gate side-load must withstand up to a 3,600 lb gate load, this is up considerably from 220 lb. (gate face) and 350 lb. (side gate) load strength. (Illustration 1 and 2)

2. Side load of gate must also withstand a load up to 3,600 lb. This is up from 350 lb. (Illustration 3)

3. The minor axis of a snap hook or carabiner (excluding those with a captive eye) must withstand a load 3,600 lb.

4. Tensile load for a snap hook or carabiner must withstand a 5,000 lb. load (this is current with the existing standard).

Another change to Z359.1 was the addition of requirements and markings for harnesses equipped with a front-mounted d-ring or attachment. In the past, standard harnesses with a front-mounted d-ring could utilize that d-ring attach point for ladder climbing, fall restraint or work positioning systems only. The new standard offers an explanation, that the front d-ring attachment on a harness should be positioned within the sternum (at the breastbone) area of the body. The front d-ring attachment is intended for the use in rescue, work position, rope access, and other ANSI Z359.1 recognized applications where the design of the systems is such that only a limited free fall of two (2) feet is permitted.(1)


ANSI Z359.1 also outlines the strength and performance requirements for the front d-ring element.

In addition to the front d-ring element, ANSI Z359.1 also addressed changes to the twin leg lanyard. This is a new addition to the standard and outlines the element of the twin leg lanyard and its strength requirements to lanyards that have two integrally connected legs, along with requirements to labeling and warnings regarding use.

Other changes to Z359.1 include revisions of the load that anchorages must bear, and additions to equipment, rigging, use, and training sections. Other minor revisions have been made to include synthetic ropes, straps and webbing used in fall arrest systems.

ANSI Z359.2: Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program.

This portion of the standard ensures that employers and employees apply consistent training on the use and operation of fall protection equipment and programs. This update identifies the responsibility of the employer adherence to the following:

  • Scope, purpose, application, exceptions, and interpretations
  • Controlling fall hazards through identification, evaluation, and elimination
  • Providing proper training to employees who are exposed to fall hazards
  • Ensuring proper use of fall protection systems and rescue systems
  • Implementing safe rescue procedures

This section also establishes the roles for key individuals and their responsibilities in a well managed fall protection program. Individual roles and responsibilities are defined and include employer, program administrator, qualified person, competent person, authorized person, competent rescuer, authorized rescuer, qualified trainer and competent person trainer.

ANSI Z359.3: Safety Requirements for Positioning and Travel Restraint Systems.

Fall protection equipment and hardware indicated within this section is also required to meet the design requirements indicated in ANSI Z359.1

This portion of the new standard is divided into 5 sections and covers:

  • Scope, purpose, application, exceptions, and interpretations
  • Definitions
  • Design requirements to include positioning systems, travel restraint systems, rope adjusters, positioning and travel restraint lanyards, full-body harnesses, positioning harnesses, and hardware
  • Qualification testing to include test equipment and test specimens, as well as qualification tests
  • Marking and Instructions to include general and specific marking requirements, as well as general and specific instruction requirements
ANSI Z359.4: Safety Requirements for Assisted Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components.

This standard is a new addition to the ANSI standard and covers much of what is within Z359.3, but in addition includes:

  • Requirements; system requirements, component and element requirements, and corrosion protection
  • Qualification testing; component, constituent and element testing
  • Inspection, maintenance and storage
  • Equipment selection, rigging, use and training

This section provides requirements for performance, design criteria, marking, qualification, instruction, use, training, maintenance and removal from service for equipment used in assisted rescue and self-rescue systems. Equipment to include connectors, harnesses, lanyards, anchorage devices, winches and hoists, decent control devices, rope-tackle blocks, and self-retracting lifelines with integral retrieval capability.

After nearly fifteen years, these updated and approved ANSI fall protection standards are welcome resources for employers/industry and they will in-turn provide more tools and resources to assist in preventing fall related injuries and deaths, in an effort to better protect workers. In addition, these updated resources also mean that the ANSI Z359 fall protection standards no longer pertain mainly to manufacturers, but are also a comprehensive guide for anyone working at heights.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q.   Who is impacted by recent updates to the ANSI fall protection standard?
A.   At this time manufacturers of fall protection equipment are required to have their equipment meet or exceed the new ANSI Z359-2007 standard requirements.
Q.   Are there additions expected for the ANSI Z359-2007 standard?
A.   Current changes included five subsections to the Z359-2007 standard. There are an additional 12 sub sections in development by the ANSI committee, with no expected completion date yet.
Q.   Is the new ANSI Z359-2007 standard adopted by OSHA?
A.   No, OSHA has determined that following ANSI Z359.1-2007 does not apply to construction. OSHA issued an interpretation letter dated 9/30/2010 that they will rescind enforcing Z359.1-2007 through the General Duty Clause. OSHA will follow the specifications in ANSI A10.32-2004 for personal fall arrest equipment in construction.

A New Era for an Old Standard; A review of Proposed Changes to ANSI Z359.1-1992(R1999). Capitol Safety, 2007 publication. (1) and Illustrations 1, 2 and 3.

ANSI-Understanding the New Z359-2007 standard; Miller Fall Protection, published 2007.

ANSI - American National Standards Institute Z359.1-2007.

Grainger fall protection products

(Rev. 1/2012)

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