General Industry Fall Protection Standards have application for Steel Erectors
Date:  9/26/2016
ArticleType:  Industry Reports


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Courtesy of MSC Safety Solutions and Steel Erectors Safety Association of Colorado.


General Industry Fall Protection Standards have application for Steel Erectors

In order to keep up with rapidly changing fall protection products and methodologies, the American National Standards Institute has issued new standards related to fall protection. ANSI Z359 is for General Industry, not Construction, but many companies and government entities have adopted it. “Most larger general contractors and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now requiring compliance with the standard,” said Troy Clark, President of MSC Safety Solutions, Westminster, Colo. “In fact, effective September 1, 2016 the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers requires that when working at height, Competent Persons be 24 hour fall protection trained, to ensure compliance with ANSI Z359,” he said.

Approved by ANSI in August, new Z359 standards take effect in January 2017. Several sub-standards provide specific guidance on fall restraint, work positioning, rope access, fall arrest and rescue systems. (Grainger provides a good 
overview of the standard and sub-standards.) The standards also provide requirements for performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, inspection, use and maintenance of each type of fall protection equipment. According to an article published on in August 2016, the standards are intended to prevent falls. “We want to keep workers from falling as much as possible,” said Thomas Kramer, P.E., CSP, vice chair of the Z359 Committee. “We concluded that systems that kept workers suspended in the air once they fell, resulted in other injuries we hope can be avoided.”

Clark explains that the 2017 update will give the industry an update on minimum requirements for corporate fall protection programs and training requirements. “Contractors will most likely be asked to submit Fall Protection Plans and training that meets this requirement. I recommend that each company review their clients fall protection program, purchase only product that meets the ANSI Z359 standard, and ensure its training is sufficient to qualify trainees to meet the requirements,” he said.

While steel erectors should first choose to comply with ANSI A10.32, which applies to Personal Fall Protection for Use in Construction and Demolition Operation, it’s a good idea to be familiar with ANSI Z350 also. ANSI standards are not required by law, but they do represent industry best practices and can be cited by reference in OSHA regulations.  Want to better understand the difference between ANSI Standards and OSHA Regulations, read this article from