Guardian Fall Protection Answers FAQs on ANSI Standards

Effective Oct. 15, 2007, the American National Standards Institute Committee on Standards for Fall Protection implemented significant changes to the existing ANSI Z359.1 fall protection standard. The changes alter the standard from its previous state, which addressed only fall arrest equipment, to a more encompassing standard that addresses managed fall protection programs, work positioning, work-restraint systems and rescue equipment.

After receiving many questions regarding the change, Guardian Fall Protection, a fall protection gear manufacturer based in Kent, Wash., has released answers to frequently asked questions the company has been getting from customers.

Question:

Is it mandatory to comply with ANSI?

Answer:

The short answer is no, it is not. Unlike OSHA guidelines, ANSI is completely voluntary, not mandatory. However, you do need to follow any safety procedures outlined by your specific company.

Question:

Since the new standard applies to general industry only, does it apply to anyone in the construction industry?

Answer:

The new standard applies to Z359.1 for general industry, not A10 which is designated for construction.

Question:

If I do want to comply with the new ANSI standard, am I just required to buy new lanyards with 3,600-pound tensile gates?

Answer:

No! There are many more parts to the standard that are not being advertised by other companies. Because of the new standard, there may be a mix of product in the field. Training will be critical and strict adherence to company guidelines will need to be followed as to whether or not you will recognize the new standard.

The biggest market at risk is the compliance market, those smaller contractors with limited funds and training resources. If you want to comply with the new standard, you will need to ensure that all of your workers are trained so they can identify a 3,600-pound gate versus a standard gated snaphook.

Three most significant changes

1. Gate strength for all snaphooks and carabiner connectors will increase to 3,600 pound-force, which is a ten-fold increase over current requirements. Specifically, the gate face must withstand 3,600 pound-force and the side gate must withstand 3,600 pound-force. Why the change? The concern is for accidental disengagement of the fall protection system or what some people refer to as "roll out" or "side loading.”

This new change will provide greater latitude in making compatible connections. The new standard requires the gate to withstand a static load of 3,600 pound-force or twice the maximum loads permitted in a fall arrest system. This means that because of the higher gate strength, snap hooks and carabiners can now be attached to a variety of anchorage connecting devices whereas previously they could not for fear of roll out or side loading.

2. Twin or double-leg lanyards will be tested to resist a 5,000 pound-force static load at the point of connection between the two legs.

3. Full body harnesses with frontal attachment points will now be rated for limited fall arrest, up to a 2-foot free fall and a 900 pound-force maximum arrest force. In short, before decide to buy new ANSI-compliant fall protection equipment, you should have a full understanding of the complete standard. Why only comply halfway? Buying new products is only a small part to the ANSI change.