In a safety product area that has evolved rapidly over the last decade, the ten-year-old standard guiding fall protection use was in need of an update.

That assessment by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) led to the formation of a Z359 Committee, which developed new sub-standards that address fall restraint systems, work positioning systems, rope access systems, fall arrest systems and rescue systems.

The new standard, was approved by ANSI on August 15, 2016, said Thomas Kramer, P.E., CSP, vice chair of the Z359 Committee.

From performance to maintenance

“We wrote standards for each piece of equipment to make it much easier to use,” Kramer said. “We wanted to ensure it would be a guide to the whole Z359 Fall Protection Code by establishing requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, inspection, use and maintenance of this equipment.”

The Fall Protection Code encompasses standards for personal fall protection systems that incorporate a full body harness, intended to protect the user against falls from height. The new standard provides guidance to systems that prevent a free fall over systems that arrest a free fall. That means the proper selection and use of service of connectors, full body harnesses, lanyards, energy absorbers, anchorage connectors, fall arresters, vertical lifelines and self-retracting lanyards comprising personal fall protection systems for users within the capacity range of 130-310 pounds.

Injured in the air

“We want to keep workers from falling as much as possible,” Kramer said. “We concluded that systems that kept workers suspended in the air once they fell, resulted in other injuries we hope can be avoided,” Kramer said.

ANSI is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary standards for United States industry through a process that allows all stakeholders to participate in a carefully followed process that builds consensus towards standards that can govern products, services and industry processes like the protection of workers from safety and health risks. ASSE is a Standards Development Organization managing standards voluntary standards developed through ANSI to help industry manage workplace risks. A variety of Z359 standards protect workers from falls.

The new standard will go into effect beginning in January 2017. For more information on Z359.2, visit