Q: What do these new standards mean to me
and what do I need to do to be ready
A: In brief, the ANSI Z359.6 was developed for
engineers designing active fall protection systems
such as travel restraint systems and vertical and horizontal
lifeline systems. The ANSI Z359.12-2009 standard
covers manufacturing requirements for design,
performance, testing and markings of snaphooks,
carabiners and other fall protection connectors. The
ANSI Z359.13-2009 standard might be the most significant
and might directly affect most employers and
users of personal fall protection. The ANSI Z359.13
has established new requirements for the design and
performance of energy-absorbing (EA) lanyards.
Q: What is the significance of the new ANSI
Z359.13-2009 energy absorber standard?
A: The ANSI Z359.13-2009 standard has developed
new design criteria for the performance and testing methods
of EA lanyards. Specifically, the new ANSI energy
absorbers will increase the user’s deceleration distance
from 42 inches (3.5 ft) to 48 inches (4.0 ft), which
will increase your overall potential fall distance. Also,
Y-Lanyards, sometimes referred to as twin-leg or 100 percent
tie-off lanyards, may be required to have a warning
label directing users how to safely store the unused leg on
many manufactures’ EA lanyards.
Q: How can ANSI deviate from the OSHA standard
stating that a shock absorber must be 42
inches and not exceed 900 lbs. of force on the
worker, and will I be in violation with OSHA?
A: No, you will not be in violation with OSHA by
following the new ANSI Z359.13 standard. OSHA has
a policy of issuing “de minimis” notices to employers
who comply with more current versions of consensus
standards, to the extent that the more current versions are
at least as protective as the older versions
. The OSHA
“de minimis” notices allow consensus standards, such as
ANSI, to develop standards with new technologies that
advance safety in the workplace. (http://www.dol.gov/federalregister/
Q: Why did ANSI increase the deceleration
distance from 42 to 48 inches?
A: Through extensive testing, advances in engineering
and improvements in testing equipment the ANSI Fall
Protection Code committee has discovered that the past
energy absorber requirements are not as effective as once
thought. Through re-engineering the EA materials and subjecting
these materials to a battery of dynamic tests, a new
standard was developed. This new standard will decrease
the deceleration forces, to approximately 900 lbs. in a six-
the upper reaches
of the weight range
where the previous
standard fell short.
Q: Why is a warning
label required on some
EA Y-Lanyards (100 percent
A: If the unused leg of some EA
Y-Lanyards is parked on a hip D-ring
during a fall arrest, forces of the fall may be
transferred to the hip D-ring. This might cause
injury to the user. There is a simple solution to
avoiding this issue in most cases. If you have a lanyard
park or clip, located at or near your chest strap
on your harness, you can attach the unused leg to the
lanyard park. This will shorten the distance between your
unused snaphook and the fall arrest D-ring, which will
prevent potential injury from the unused lanyard leg.
Q: Do I have to throw out my old EA lanyards
and replace them with new EA lanyards after
November 16, 2009?
A: The ANSI Z359.13-2009 standard is a voluntary
standard, so you are not required by law or
OSHA regulation to replace your existing equipment.
However, many companies might want to take a proactive
approach and update their fall protection immediately
to the standard of greatest consequence. At the
very least you will want to replace your equipment,
as it is removed from service, with the EA lanyards
meeting the ANSI Z359.13-2009 standard.
Q: Will I be safe using the old standard EA lanyard?
A: If you have inspected and use your EA lanyard as
recommended by the manufacturer, you should be fine.
However, if the total worker mass or capacity rating (body
plus tools and equipment total weight) is above 250 lbs. and
not exceeding 310 lbs., you might want to consider replacing
his present EA lanyard. In effect, the standard change has
reduced the deceleration forces to approximately 900 lbs. on
the body, in a six-foot free fall, only in the higher reaches of
the capacity rating. For all others (130-249 lbs.) the deceleration
forces remain the same, at or below 900 lbs., as the
previous standard, in a six-foot free fall. The new ANSI
Z359.13-2009 standard covers the same capacity rating as it
has in the past â€” 130 to 310 lbs. (59-140 kg).
Q: I just bought a new EA lanyard with 3,600-lb.
gate snaphooks. Will I have to go out and replace
my new lanyard by November 16th even though it
is in good condition?
A: No, you will not have to replace your present
EA lanyard if it has been inspected to be in good
condition. In fact, fall protection manufacturers and
distributors will have existing EA lanyard inventories
to sell beyond the new standard date. As manufacturers
and distributors cycle through their inventory, new
standard product will become available. Though the
ANSI Z359 Fall Protection Code is a voluntary standard,
manufacturers are ethically required to assemble
EA lanyards to the new standard beginning November
16th and will no longer produce to the old standard.
When you are ready to buy a replacement EA lanyard,
you will want to buy an EA lanyard marked
ANSI Z359.1-2007 or the ANSI Z359.13-2009.
Q: Does the new ANSI Z359.13-2009 EA lanyard
require 3,600-lb. gate strength snaphooks?
A: Yes, all ANSI Z359 lanyards, manufactured
to have the minimum
Q: Is deceleration
distance the same in the
12-foot free fall EA lanyard as
the six-foot free fall EA lanyard?
A: No, they are different. The
12-foot free fall personal energy
absorber has a maximum deceleration
distance of 60 inches (5 ft.). Once again
it is imperative the user calculate the total
potential fall distance or clearance needed when
using the 12-foot free fall personal EA lanyard
Q: How much clearance would be needed for the 12-foot free fall personal energy-absorbing lanyard?
A: The 12-foot free fall (FF) personal energy-absorbing lanyard will require the user to calculate a clearance from the anchor point to the obstructions, equipment, and/or the ground below of approximately 20 feet. This calculation includes a 3-foot safety factor. When comparing the identical work space of a potential fall arrest for a 6-foot FF vs. 12-foot FF, the 12-foot FF would require approximately 7’ additional clearance below the worker (additional 6-foot FF plus 1-foot energy absorber deployment). Consult your Competent Person or safety professional when calculating your potential fall distance and circumstances specific to your worksite.
Q: I have a worker who exceeds the ANSI capacity
of 310 lbs. What EA lanyard can I use for him?
A: At this time ANSI considers anyone over 310
lbs. to be outside the scope of this standard. The
thought process behind the ANSI committee’s decision
to exclude heavy workers (over 310 lbs.) was the
unknown physical effects of a fall, suspension, and
rescue time of the heavy workers following a fall. The
capacity or strength of fall protection equipment was
never an issue. There is not enough research in the area
of fall arrest and suspension trauma, as well as rescue
time, with the heavy worker at the present time.
Q: Does the ANSI Z359 Standard Fall Protection Code
apply to the construction industry?
A: No, the ANSI Z359 Standard affects general
industry only. However, you may want to use fall
protection products manufactured to this standard due
to the increased security of the 3,600-lb. gate strength
and personal energy absorber changes that may
Click on the ASSE Resource Center at www.ishn.com, click on “Standards,” and click on the description of ANSI/ASSE Z359.2- 2007 Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program.