ANSI Z359 Versus ANSI A10
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a non-profit organization that oversees creating, standardizing, and implementing thousands of regulations and guidelines that impact businesses in almost every industry. ANSI also ensures that the organizations involved in creating the regulations and guidelines are legitimately experts in their respective fields through a process they call accreditation. Although ANSI’s accredited standards are not law, they are nationally accepted as safety standards that every organization should follow. Two important standards in the fall protection industry are ANSI Z359 and ANSI A10.
ANSI Z359 was originally a safety standard for general and non-construction industries. Originally published in 1992 and later revised in 1999, this standard was intended to be the first part in a series addressing comprehensive fall protection programs. This standard initially addressed only fall arrest systems and equipment. In 2007, ANSI released the ANSI Z359 Fall Protection Code was released as the umbrella for a series of 17 fall protection standards. These 17 standards address not just fall arrest systems and equipment, but all fall protection systems and equipment for general industry. To date, the ANSI Z359 committee has released 10 of the 17 sections.
ANSI A10 is the safety standard for construction and demolition industries. The construction standards cover safety requirements for scaffolding, steel erection, safety nets, and fall protection. The demolition operating standards cover debris net systems, rope-guided and non-guided workers’ hoists, commercial explosive and blasting agents, digger derricks, rigging qualifications, and hearing loss prevention. ANSI A10.32 is the standard for fall protection systems in the construction and demolition operations. To date, the ANSI A10 committee has released 37 standards in ANSI A10 and has 9 standards that have been proposed but not completed.
So should your business follow ANSI Z359 (general industry) or ANSI A10 (construction and demolition industries)? The short answer is ANSI Z359. Unlike OSHA, the existing ANSI standards do not define what constitutes construction or can be left classified as general industry. This fact could be because although OSHA attempted to define clearly what constitutes construction and general industry, there are still plenty of companies confused as to which classification they fall under. However, ANSI Z359 committee has proposed making ANSI Z359 applicable to all industries. If this transition were to take place, ANSI A10 would compliment or reference ANSI Z359. In fact, ANSI Z359.2 should be considered the most important fall protection standard to follow for any industry because it “establishes guidelines and requirements for an employer’s managed fall protection program.” ANSI Z359.2 explicitly states, “This standard is for use by organizations where employees are exposed to fall hazards.” If you are unsure of which standard to follow, ANSI Z359 is probably your best bet.
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