Be Prepared for the Fall Protection ANSI Update!

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) have jointly developed and updated the ANSI/ASSP Z359 Fall Protection Code. This fall protection ANSI update provides guidelines for the design, manufacturing, construction industry, performance, testing, and use of fall protection equipment and systems.

Do You Know About the Fall Protection ANSI Update to Z359.14-2021?

ALERT: ASSP has announced that the ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 standard for self-retracting devices used in personal and fall protection products and fall arrest protection systems, currently published with an effectivity date of February 1, 2023, has recently been granted a new effectivity date of August 1, 2023.

The fall protection ANSI update aims to improve worker safety and reduce the risk of injury or death when using SRDs as part of their fall protection systems. Compliance with this standard is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended by safety experts and regulatory bodies.

Self Retracting Device Types

  • Self Retracting Lifeline (SRL): A self-retracting lifeline is a cable or webbing attached to a worker's harness. The SRL releases the cable wire or webbing that has been wound around a drum or reel when the worker moves away from the anchor point. The self-retracting lifeline automatically locks and stops the cable or webbing from paying out when a worker falls, thereby shortening the fall and lowering the risk of injury.

  • Self-Retracting Lanyard, Personal (SRL-P): Anchorage refers to the secure attachment of a structure or component to a supporting structure or foundation, typically using bolts, screws, or other fasteners. Anchorage is a crucial component of building and engineering because it guarantees that components and structures stay put even when subjected to heavy loads or stresses.

  • Self-Retracting Lanyard with Integral Rescue Capability (SRL-R): An SRL that includes integral means for assisted rescue via raising or lowering the rescue subject, including by controlled descent.

  • Connectors: Connectors are used to attach a worker's body harness to an anchorage point. They include lanyards, lifelines, and self-retracting lifelines. Connectors must be able to withstand falling forces and be inspected regularly.

  • Safety Harnesses: Fall protection tools refer to equipment and procedures designed to prevent falling tools from causing injury or damage and raise safety concerns. OSHA requires employers to provide fall protection at elevations of four feet fall distance for their employees' maximum comfort, mobility, and a safe working environment, including proper fall protection for tools.

What does DBI-SALA stand for?

DBI-SALA is a brand name that is commonly associated with fall protection equipment for construction and. It combines the words "DBI" and "SALA," and is not an acronym. DBI is the initials of David B. Johnson, who founded the company that eventually became DBI-SALA.

SALA is an acronym for "Safety and Life Assurance," the company's original name when it was founded in 1935. Today, DBI-SALA fall protection is a subsidiary of 3M Company and is a worldwide leading manufacturer of fall protection and safety equipment for workers at heights.

Importance of wearing safety tools for fall protection?

Workers at heights or in elevated locations must wear the safety harnesses and equipment to keep construction workers safe, and prevent falls. By taking the necessary precautions and using the appropriate safety harnesses and PPE, construction workers can ensure their safety and reduce the risk of serious injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and head injuries.

When to Maintain or Replace your Fall Protection equipment

Fall protection equipment is designed to keep workers safe while working at heights and preventing falls should seen as a top priority. This type of workplace safety equipment however can wear out or be damaged over time reducing its effectiveness.

Per OSHA 1910.140(c)(18): Personal fall protection systems must be inspected before initial use during each work shift for mildew, wear, damage, and other deterioration, and defective components must be removed from service.

Fall protection systems must be regularly inspected and tested, workers must always adhere to safe work practices, and proper training must be provided to employees on how to use and maintain equipment. Additionally, employers should keep up-to-date with the latest regulations and standards related to fall protection to ensure compliance and continuous improvement of safety measures.

To be go to determine whether to maintain or replace fall protection products, you should consider the following factors:

  • The equipment's age: The manufacturer will usually specify the equipment's lifespan, which is finite for fall protection equipment. Equipment should be replaced if it has reached the end of its recommended lifespan.

  • Frequency of use: If the equipment is used frequently, it may wear out faster and require more frequent maintenance and replacement.

  • Environmental factors: Exposure to sunlight, moisture, extreme temperatures, and other environmental factors can damage fall protection equipment. You should inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is still in good condition.

  • Any visible signs of wear and tear: Check the equipment for any signs of wear and tear, such as frayed straps, cracks, or tears in the webbing, or any other visible damage. If there are any visible signs of damage, the equipment should be replaced immediately.

  • Compliance with safety regulations: Ensure that your fall protection equipment is compliant with safety regulations and standards. If it is not compliant, it should be replaced immediately.

OSHA Regulations & Standards for Fall Protection in the Construction Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a range of regulations and standards to ensure the safety of workers who are at risk of falling from heights.

To protect and prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).

  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.

  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.

  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails.

OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in long shoring operations industries.

  • Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.

  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.

  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.

  • Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.

Frequently Asked Questions about fall protection safety harnesses

Q: Is it mandatory that I must update my existing SRL’s to the new ANSI/ASSP Z359.14 standard revision after the August 1, 2023 effectivity date arrives?

A: NO, existing SRL equipment manufactured to previous revisions may continue to be used provided it continues to meet all inspection requirements as defined by the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Q: When is fall protection required?

A: Fall protection is required whenever a worker is working at a site at a height of 6 feet or more above a lower level. However, in some cases, fall protection may be required at lower heights depending on the situation.

Q: How should fall protection equipment be inspected and maintained?

A: Regularly inspect fall protection equipment for signs of wear or damage, and remove any defective equipment from service immediately. Following the manufacturer's instructions for maintenance is advised.

Q: Will my existing Fall Protection anchorage be sufficient to use with the Self-Retracting Lifelines newly certified to ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021?

A: With the ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 standard having new requirements for the allowed Average Arresting Force (AAF) increasing from 900 lbs. (4 kN) to 1,350 lbs. (6 kN), it is necessary to confirm the strength of your anchorage is sufficient for the increased values in AAF. Always check the product label for the actual AAF indicated on the Self-Retracting Lifeline, to validate use with appropriate anchorages.

Note: Some Self-Retracting Lifeline models may have a AAF of less than 1,350 lbs., and still meet the new ANSI/ASSP Z359.14-2021 standard.