Transparency is an important part of the new Z359.18 standard.

A New Standard for Fall Protection Anchorage Connectors

ANSI Z359.18-2017 increases testing rigor—and it introduces field application testing, anchorage connector types, and labeling requirements.

The introduction of ANSI Z359.18-2017 Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for Active Fall Protection Systems marked a watershed moment for fall protection equipment manufacturers. Prior to Z359.18 (which became effective in August 2017), manufacturers relied on the guidance of the admittedly "overly simplistic" Z359.1-2007 Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems, and Components standard during the manufacture and testing of fall protection anchorage connectors.

The updated anchorage connector-specific standard introduces significant changes, including: testing in mocked-up field applications to simulate real-world uses; anchorage connector types; dynamic, residual, and serviceability strength testing; and extensive corrosion resistance tests. Understanding these application-specific tests, anchorage connector types, and performance requirements will be an increasingly important factor as manufacturers transition from the outdated Z359.1-2007 standard (which ceased to be a product standard in 2016) to the new anchorage-connector-only Z359.18-2017 standard.

Field Application Testing
Until Z359.18-2017, ANSI-directed anchorage connector strength testing was limited to a static load of 5,000 pounds. Not only has the new standard updated testing procedures and performance requirements with the addition of dynamic, residual, and serviceability load testing, but now it also requires that manufacturers assess all compatible substrates, fasteners, and installation orientations to provide the most accurate installation guidance possible.

Three New Types of Anchorage Connector
Instead of a single, overarching category of anchorage connectors as found in Z359.1-2007, Z359.18-2017 creates three new anchorage connector "types" based on intended application or performance:

Type T—for a suspended component/tie-back line, or for an active fall protection system.

Type D—allows deformation or movement when arresting a fall to absorb fall energy and reduce the strength requirements of the anchorage to which is it attached. Deformation may be permanent or temporary.

Type A—any anchorage connector other than Type T or Type D for an active fall protection system.

Although many common anchorage connectors will fall into the Type A category, the purpose here is to better delineate an anchorage connector’s purpose and performance to ensure proper selection of the most appropriate anchorage connector for a specific application.

Enhanced Testing Procedures
To ensure tests are conducted in a methodical, repeatable, and accountable way, testing labs must now meet the requirements of ANSI Z359.7-2011 Qualification and Verification Testing of Fall Protection Products and are accredited to the ISO 17025 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories standard. Manufacturers must make available the results of compliance testing; transparency is an important part of the new Z359.18 standard.

Static Strength: Type A and Type T anchors must withstand a minimum 5,000-pound load. Type D anchors must withstand a static load between 2,700 pounds and 5,000 pounds, and their deformation must be measured so that it may be accounted for in fall clearance calculations.

Dynamic Strength: Type A and Type T anchors must not allow a 282-pound test weight to impact the ground when dropped with a 3-foot free fall, while Type D anchors must do the same but with a 6-foot free fall.

Residual Strength: Repeats the initial dynamic test for Type A and Type T anchors. Residual testing for Type D anchors is also a repeat of the dynamic strength test, but with a 3-foot free fall instead of 6 feet.

Serviceability Load Test: Serviceability load testing is not required for Type A anchors; however, for Type T anchors, it is done by applying the greater of twice the working load or 2,500 pounds, applied at up to 900 pounds per minute and maintained for at least three minutes. For Type D anchors, serviceability testing is done by applying the greater of twice the working load or 450 pounds, applied gradually over at least one minute and maintained for at least three minutes. Serviceability load testing ensures that an anchor’s strength will not be compromised when subjected to load forces generated by workers throughout their daily work.

Corrosion Testing: For Type A and Type D anchors, ferrous components of the anchorage connector cannot show evidence of red rust or other corrosion after two, 24-hour salt spray exposures. For Type T anchors, ferrous components of the anchorage connector cannot show evidence of red rust or other corrosion over more than 5 percent of their surface area after a 500-hour salt spray exposure.

Updated Labeling
Safety professionals also will notice updated labeling requirements due to the more stringent Z359.18 standard. As Z359.1-2007 sunsets as a product standard, manufacturers are not only required to mark products to the new updated Z359.18 standard, but also they must include information not previously required. Upon product compliance, manufacturers now also must identify the anchorage connector type, restrictions on loading angles, working load (if applicable), serial/lot/batch number, the maximum breaking strength (MBS), and minimum service temperature.

ANSI Z359.18-2017 is clearly a "next generation" standard and goes well beyond any existing performance standard for anchorage connectors. Compliance is intended to be challenging to push safety performance forward to meet the greater demands of the industry at large, and even anticipate some of the fall protection challenges of the future.


American National Standards Institute/American Society of Safety Professionals. (2017) ANSI/ASSP Z359.18-2017 Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for Active Fall Protection Systems

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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