Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Each year roughly 300-400 construction workers fall to their deaths, usually when working on scaffolds, roofs, and ladders. While it is vital for employers to set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, fall protection still holds the top OSHA violation slot (i.e., when a company or employee willingly or unknowingly ignores potential and real safety hazards) at 5,260 citations. ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023: Minimum Requirements For A Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program details criteria for an employer’s fall protection program.
What Is ANSI/ASSP Z359.2?
ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023 establishes criteria and requirements for an employer’s fall protection. The program includes policies, responsibilities, training, survey and identification of fall hazards, procedures, controlling fall hazards, rescue planning, program implementation, incident investigation, and evaluating program effectiveness. The goal of this American National Standard is to help employers identify, evaluate, eliminate, and/or control fall hazards in the workplace. ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023 specifies that eliminating the fall hazard or preventing exposure to a fall hazard is the most effective control measure. Preventing exposure to fall hazards may include modifying the structure, isolating an authorized person from the hazard, changing a process, substituting equipment, or using specific work procedures.
Passive Vs Active Fall Protection Methods
ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023 distinguishes fall protection methods for passive and active systems. In short, a passive fall protection system is stationary and non-dynamic; an active fall protection system is dynamic, contain moving parts, and require human interaction.
Passive Fall Protection: Preventing Falls
A passive fall protection system does not move, adapt, nor change when it is in or out use. This means there is little to no reliance on human behavior/interaction required for the system to serve its purpose of preventing a fall. As a result, workers do not need to wear additional fall protection equipment in order to stay safe. Common types of passive fall protection systems include: aerial lifts and platforms; handrails; safety netting; barricades; covers over holes, fully decked and guarded scaffolds; and working platforms with guardrails or barrier protection.
Active Fall Protection: Stopping Falls
When passive fall protection is not feasible, ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023 states that active fall protection systems should be implemented. These systems do not require human behavior/interaction. Active fall protection systems involve the use of personal protective equipment. This means in order for an active system to keep workers safe, they must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). An active fall protection system includes the following movable components: overhead rigid rail; anchorage points; full-body harness; lifelines and lanyards (self-retracting and shock-absorbing); connectors (snap hooks and carabiners); and deceleration devices.
Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest Systems
There are two subcategories of active fall protection, fall restraint and fall arrest systems:
- A travel/personal fall restraint system restrains a worker from reaching a fall hazard leading edge, limiting travel in such a manner that the worker is not exposed to a fall hazard. For example, this system could involve a short, fixed-length lanyard attached to the worker’s body harness to prevent the worker from getting too close to the edge of a roof or from falling out of an aerial lift basket. This method of active fall protection is preferred because it is a preventive measure as it prevents any fall through the entire range of movement
- A personal fall arrest system is the action or event of stopping a free fall or the instant where the downward free all has been stopped. It incorporates a collection critical equipment component—anchorage, full-body harness, lanyard, deceleration devices, horizontal lifelines, vertical lifelines, and anchorage connectors—to safely decelerate and halt a free-falling worker before the worker impacts the surface below. This active fall protection system is required on construction sites where workers are exposed to vertical drops of 6 feet or more. Personal fall arrest systems allow a fall to occur, increasing the risk associated with impact forces, contact with obstructions and prompt rescue. ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023 maintains that positioning systems may be used in conjunction with other active fall protection systems to further reduce the risk of the authorized person when accessing, egressing, or completing a task at a location.
Check out ANSI/ASSP A10.32-2023: Construction Fall Protection Systems to expand your knowledge about fall protection systems.
ANSI/ASSP Z359.2-2023: Minimum Requirements For A Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program is available on the ANSI Webstore. Interested in learning more about the ANSI Z359 series? Z359 Fall Protection and Arrest Package covers the other ANSI Z359 standards in this Fall Protection Series.