As we discussed in a recent webinar on fall protection equipment standards, the ANSI Z359 family of standards is transitioning from system-based standards to component-based standards. The standards released in 2007 provided safety requirements for personal fall arrest, fall restraint, work positioning and rescue systems. Beginning with the .12 and .13 standards (released in November 2009), the ANSI standards are now focused on each component of a fall protection system—to provide more specialized guidance for each component.
You can essentially follow the standards numbering system starting at the body (.11 – harnesses) and moving toward the anchorages (.18 – anchorage connectors). In our recent series of webinars, we asked participants which of the upcoming standards they had the most questions about. Horizontal lifelines (.17 standard) received the most votes (36%), with ladder climbing systems (.16 standard) coming in second (32%). The focus on horizontal lifelines is not surprising, considering there is little guidance on these systems in existing ANSI standards or OSHA regulations.
As chairman of the ANSI Z359.17 subcommittee, I have good news for those interested in this particular standard. I estimate that the standard will be released later this year or early next. You will soon have some overdue guidance on these important safety systems.