Standards Report: Z359 ASC's October 2008 Meeting

Z359 Committee meetingThe American Society of Safety Engineers hosted the ASSE/ANSI Z359 Accredited Standards Committee on Fall Protection meeting on Oct. 7-9, 2008, at ASSE headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill., with more than 60 committee members from various organizations and industries attending each day. Sub-committees met on Oct. 7-8 to discuss the progress of 12 proposed Z359 standards projects, and the full Z359 committee met on Thursday, Oct. 9.

There was also a meeting of the ANSI/ International Standards Organization (ISO) US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Fall Protection on Wednesday, Oct. 8, of which ASSE is the Secretariat. The Z359 Committee members attending the meeting came from across the United States, including from Alabama, California, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington state, as well as from Canada. They represent companies and organizations from various sectors, including government, for-profit, and not-for-profit industries.

One of the items discussed during the full committee meeting on Oct. 9 included a possible technical report to accompany the proposed Z359.6-200X "Safety Requirements & Specifications for Personal Fall Arrest Systems" and Z359.7-200X "Safety Requirements for Third Party and Self-Certification for Personal Fall Arrest Systems" Standards. The Z359 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) requires that a technical report undergo the same public review and approval procedures as required for standards by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Unlike a voluntary consensus standard, a technical report essentially provides more details and explains parts contained within standards to make them more accessible to their users and easier to interpret. A final decision on this project is still pending.

Also, the proposed Z359.13-200X "Safety Requirements for Lanyards & Energy Absorbers" Standard was voted on prior to the Z359 ASC committee meeting. The decision at the meeting based on voting results is to address the comments and then re-circulate the standard. This standard establishes requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instructions, inspection, maintenance, and removal from service of energy-absorbing lanyards and personal energy absorbers. It is the intention of this standard to require all energy-absorbing lanyards and personal energy absorbers to reduce the forces implied on the user to less than 10 G's (10 times the normal gravitational pull of the Earth). Users must be within the range of 130 to 310 pounds (59 to 140 kg).

TAG Hopes to Raise Awareness of ISO Fall Arrest Standards

Prior to the full committee meeting, seven Z359 subcommittees met on Tuesday, Oct. 7 to discuss the progress of their standards projects, including the subcommittees on: Z359.0-2007 "Definitions & Nomenclature Used for Fall Protection"; Z359.5 "Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS)"; Z359.15 "Safety Requirements for Vertical Lifelines for PFAS"; Z359.16 "Safety Requirements for Fall Arresters for PFAS"; Z359.11 "Safety Requirements for Full Body Harness for PFAS"; Z359.17 "Safety Requirements for Horizontal Lifelines for PFAS"; and Z359.18 "Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for PFAS."

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, six Z359 subcommittees met to discuss progress on: Z359.8 "Requirements for Rope Access"; Z359.12 "Safety Requirements for Connecting Components for PFAS Connectors"; Z359.13 "Safety Requirements for Lanyards & Energy Absorbers for PFAS"; Z359.6 "Safety Requirements & Specifications for PFAS"; Z359.7 "Requirements for Third-Party and Self-Certification for PFAS"; and Z359.14 "Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for PFAS." All of these proposed standards are in various draft phases of the ANSI standards development process, except for the Z359.0-2007 standard, which has been approved by ANSI and is available as part of the Z359 Fall Protection Code.

Information on the Fall Protection Code and its availability is located at

The US TAG on Fall Protection, which met on Oct. 8, hopes to raise more awareness of the TAG and generate more awareness of ISO Fall Arrest Standards. In addition, a recommendation was made in the TAG meeting that that the Z359 ASC adopt ISO 22159-2007 "Personal equipment for protection against falls -- Descending devices" as an American National Standard, though the recommendation still has to be voted on and approved by the Z359 committee before moving forward with any initiative.

The next Z359 committee meeting is scheduled for April 2009.

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