Business Recovery:

Products and solutions to help your business move forward.

Get Started

Safety & Health

Working At Elevated Heights

ANSI/ASSE Z359: Fall Protection Standards System

Quick Tips #347

Make sure you understand the regulations for fall arrest equipment.

The American National Standards Institute/American Society of Safety Engineers (ANSI/ASSE) Z359.1 - American National Standard Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems and Components standard was first published in 1992. For the first time, a voluntary consensus standard provided guidance for the manufacture of fall protection equipment and offered users a way to gauge how well a device would work. The standard also differentiated between positioning, restraint and fall arrest; and defined active and passive fall protection. Following ANSI guidelines, it was reaffirmed in 1999, expanded in 2007 and revised in 2016.

Several new equipment/process-specific standards were developed within the Z359 series between 1997 and 2016. Some manufacturers chose not to follow these standards, but still claimed compliance with the most current version of Z359.1 (2007). At the time this was true because Z359.1-2007 did not specifically address the equipment/elements covered. The 2016 revision closed that loophole by referencing each of the existing standards in the Z359 series.

ANSI/ASSE Z359.1-2016 - The Fall Protection Code received administrative approval on August 15, 2016, and became effective August 14, 2017. The primary intent of Z359.1-2016 is to provide a key to understanding and applying all of the various standards that make up the Z359 Fall Protection Standards System. It provides a single point of reference to define and validate compliance. With the publication of the 2016 revision, all of the requirements of the 2007 standard were superseded.


The Fall Protection Standards System is a series of existing and planned fall protection-related standards. These standards are designed to educate workers concerning proper use of equipment and overall safe work strategies and systems to minimize the distances and consequences of falls from heights should they occur.

As of this writing, the current Z359 Fall Protection Standards System includes:

  • Z359.0-2012 — Definitions and Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection and Fall Arrest
    • Provides terminology and definitions used in the code
  • Z359.1-2016 — The Fall Protection Code
    • A set of standards that covers program management; system design; training; qualification and testing; equipment, component and system specifications for the processes used to protect workers at height in a managed fall protection program
  • Z359.3-2017 — Safety Requirements for Lanyards and Positioning Lanyards
    • Establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification and verification testing and instructions for lanyards and positioning lanyards for users within the capacity range of 130 to 310 pounds
  • Z359.4-2013 — Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components
    • Establishes requirements for performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, use, maintenance and removal from service of equipment used in preplanned assisted-rescue and self-rescue for one or two workers
  • Z359.6-2016 — Specifications and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems
    • Specifies requirements for the design and performance of complete active fallprotection systems, including travel-restraint and vertical and horizontal fall-arrest systems and is intended for engineers with expertise in designing fall-protection systems
  • Z359.7-2011 — Qualification and Verification Testing of Fall Protection Products
    • Sets requirements for certification of ANSI Z359 Code products and components as well as requirements for third-party testing, witness testing and manufacturer selfcertification of fall protection products and components
  • Z359.11-2014 — Safety Requirements for Full Body Harnesses
    • Establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, test methods, inspection, use, maintenance and removal from service of full body harnesses used for fall arrest, positioning, restraint, suspension and/or rescue applications
  • Z359.12-2009 — Connecting Components for Personal Fall Arrest Systems
    • Sets requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, test methods and removal from service of connectors
  • Z359.13-2013 — Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards
    • Establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instructions, inspection, maintenance and removal from service of energy absorbing lanyards and personal energy absorbers
  • Z359.14-2014 — Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems
    • Sets requirements for performance, design, qualification testing, marking and instructions, inspection, maintenance and storage, and removal from service of self-retracting devices including self-retracting lanyards (SRL’s), self-retracting lanyards with integral rescue capability (SRL-R’s), and self-retracting lanyards with leadingedge capability (SRL-LE’s), comprising personal fall arrest or rescue systems
  • Z359.15-2014 — Safety Requirements for Single Anchor Lifelines and Fall Arresters for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems
    • Sets requirements for the design criteria, qualification testing (performance requirements), marking and instructions, user inspections, maintenance and storage and removal from service of single anchor lifelines and fall arresters for users within the capacity range of 130 to 310 pounds
  • Z359.16—2016 - Safety Requirements for Climbing Ladder Fall Arrest Systems
    • Sets requirements for the performance; design; marking; qualification testing; instructions for use; inspection; maintenance and storage; and removal from service of vertically oriented climbing ladder fall arrest systems lifelines
  • Z359.18-2017 - Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for Active Fall Protection Systems
    • Establishes requirements for the performance, design, testing, marking and instructions for the use of anchorage connectors in travel restraint, fall arrest, rescue, work position, rope access and suspended component/tie-back line systems

Future Activity

Planned ANSI/ASSE Z359 standards activity includes:

  • New standards - in development:
    • Z359.9 — “Personal Equipment for Protection Against Falls — Descending Devices”
    • Z359.17 — “Safety Requirements for Horizontal Lifelines for Personal Fall Arrest Systems”


The Z359 standards are constantly evolving and regularly revised. ANSI/ASSE Z359.1-2016 is the guiding umbrella standard and will be kept up to date as other Z359 standards are revised, developed and published. Products must meet the requirements of the current version of the applicable standard when purchased. Products in use when revisions or new standards become effective may continue to be used until they are removed from service.

The ANSI/ASSE Z359 Fall Protection Standards System provides the requirements to help minimize serious injuries often caused by misuse, poor product selection, inadequate training or possibly damaged/worn fall protection equipment. This document provides a basic understanding of the standards and the key changes that have either been incorporated or are in development. It is intended to provide an overview of the standards only. It is not an exhaustive, all-inclusive, account of every change in all of the included or planned standards.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q. Does ANSI Z359 apply to the construction industry?
A. Originally, ANSI/ASSE Z359 did not cover fall protection in construction activities. This changed in February 2015, when the Z359 committee voted that going forward its standards would cover equipment used in construction and demolition operations. Managed fall protection programs for construction and demolition operations are still under the ANSI A10.32- 2012 “Personal Fall Protection for Use in Construction and Demolition Operations” standard.

Q. What are “active” fall protection systems?
A. ANSI defines an “active” fall protection system as “a means of providing fall protection that requires workers to take specific actions, including wearing and otherwise using personal fall protection equipment and following prescribed procedures. Examples include travel restraint and fall arrest systems.”

Q: Is it okay to attach a lanyard snap hook to the side d-rings of a harness when not in use?
A. Connecting a lanyard to other areas of a harness in some cases could produce dangerous conditions. When connected to side d-rings the lanyard could drag on the ground, snag the webbing or cause a trip hazard. Generally, all harnesses should have pull-free lanyard rings on the chest strap as a convenient location to connect a lanyard that is not in use.

Additional Information

For additional information on preventing slips, trips and falls please see:

Fall Protection Equipment

Construction Fall Protection, Subpart M

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

Fall Protection for Aerial Work Platforms

After the Fall Event — Preventing Suspension Trauma


ANSI — American National Standards Institute Z359 Fall Protection Standards System

(Rev. 10/2017)

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.


Get more great content like this sent to your inbox.