The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Z359 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) has extended the effective date of the new Z359 Fall Protection Code from October 15 to November 24, 2007.

The committee says it recognizes the need to allow environmental, health and safety (EHS) professionals more time to adjust to safety practices recommended in the code.

The ANSI/ASSE Z359 Fall Protection Code is a series of newly approved voluntary national consensus standards written to offer more resources for employers to protect workers from fall hazards. By offering employers these new standards, the code intends to prevent fall-related injuries and deaths.

In 2006, fatal work-related injuries due to falls in the private industry amounted to 809 deaths, a 5 percent increase since 2005, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since the fatality census began in 1992, the 809 fatal falls in 2006 was the third highest total. BLS also noted that in 2005 non-fatal injuries and illnesses involving falls in the private industry totaled 255,750.

The revised effective date will aid in an orderly transition to compliance, according to Joseph Feldstein of Mine Safety Appliances and a Z359 ASC member.

“Since this is a voluntary standard, there is not provision for ‘grandfathering’ as in some regulatory programs,” said Feldstein. “The extension of the effective date provides time for employers, safety professionals and suppliers who have not yet seen the document to review and understand its impact.”