The risk of falls still remains one of the top dangers within an industrial work environment. Workplace falls may attribute to injuries and even cause death. It is the employer’s job to provide a safe work environment for all employees and it is a right of employees to be able to work in a safe work environment. So if there are fall hazards present, an employer should provide the protection needed. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) provides helpful guidelines related to fall protection in the ANSI Z359. The ANSI Z359 was originally created in 1992 and has since been updated to include even more safety requirements for fall protection. However, even though the safety requirements are highly recommended to ensure safety, they are not considered a part of the U.S. law.
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The updates to the ANSI Z359 fall protection code were introduced in 2007 and include a variety of changes and added guidelines from the original more simplistic 1992 version. Let’s take a look at the additional guidelines.
· ANSI Z359.0 – Definitions and nomenclature used for fall protection and fall arrest. This was a part of the original standard and is meant to help further clarify terminology, scope, and purpose.
· ANSI Z359.1 – Safety requirements for personal fall arrest systems, subsystems, and components. One of the significant changes with the incorporation of 359.1 is the requirements for gate strength on fall arrest systems. This change affects all manufacturers of fall arrest equipment. Furthermore, additional requirements and markings for harnesses were made among other changes.
· ANSI Z359.2 – Minimum requirements for a comprehensive managed fall protection program. This element of the code urges that all employers provide a consistent and formally managed fall protection program.
· ANSI Z359.3 – Safety requirements for positioning and travel restraint systems. This section provides information regarding the minimum guidelines for travel restraint systems.
· ANSI Z359.4 – Safety requirements for assisted rescue and self-rescue systems, subsystems, and components. This section is very similar to 359.3 but also includes requirements for design, performance, qualifications, marking, instruction, and training regarding assisted-rescue and self-rescue systems.
Additional Fall Prevention Tactics
In addition to the resource of ANSI Z359, there are also an abundance of techniques that can be practiced to help eliminate the risk for falls. Such tactics include keeping work area floors clean, organized, and dry and by training employees on known fall hazards and how to work safely in conjunction with them. In addition, employers should provide pertinent fall protection equipment at no cost to employees.
ANSI provides very helpful guidelines regarding fall protection; however, OSHA also outlines some useful tactics to prevent workplace falls as well. For instance, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when any employee is working at a height greater than four feet in general industry work environments. When thinking about fall hazards, most times people assume that the risk for falls only occurs up high. The truth to the matter is that falls can happen nearly anywhere, they just don’t happen when working above ground level. For example, falls can easily happen on slippery, wet, and un-level walking surfaces as well. Make sure your work environment is safe and suitable for employees, and if fall hazards are present be sure to engage in the use of fall protection equipment.