Understanding the Benefits of ANSI Z359.15

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a non-profit organization that coordinates the development of voluntary U.S. standards for products, services, systems, and staffing/human resources. In fact, ANSI has coordinated the voluntary standardization system for the U.S. private sector for more than 90 years. As an established national standards organization, ANSI is always striving to improve their comprehensive safety standards and requirements; that’s why their new standard—ANSI Z359.15—is so important to the fall protection industry and to companies that use single anchor lifelines and fall arresters on a daily basis.

ANSI Z359.15 encompasses “Safety Requirements for Single Anchor Vertical Lifelines & Fall Arresters for Personal Fall Arrest Systems.” This standard establishes requirements for the design criteria, testing, marking and instructions, user inspections, maintenance and storage, and removal from service of single anchor lifelines and fall arresters for users within the capacity range of 130 to 310 pounds (59 to 140 kg). It is also important to note that training, use, inspection, and removal from service of single anchor lifelines and fall arresters is also addressed in ANSI/ASSE Z359.2, which provides the requirements for fall protection program management.

ANSI Z359.15 does have some important exceptions. The requirements of this standard do not address window cleaning and sports-related activities, horizontal lifelines, fall arresters used on horizontal lifelines, or rope adjusters used in positioning or travel restraint systems. Requirements for rope adjusters can be found in ANSI/ASSE Z359.3.

It is also important to note that not every rope can be used with every fall arrester. For this reason, it is best practice to purchase the rope and the fall arrester together to ensure compatibility. However, if you already have fall arresters and ropes and need replacements, manufacturers must tell you which ropes work with their fall arresters. In fact, ANSI Z359.15 requires a residual strength test for all combinations of ropes and fall arresters. This new testing requirement ensures the compatibility of the ropes and fall arresters that manufacturers claim work together.

ANSI Z359.15 also includes a dynamic performance manual override test to prevent death grip— a phenomenon where during a fall, the worker panics and grabs the fall arrester, preventing the fall arrester’s locking mechanism from engaging. This test requires manufacturers to include some type of panic feature to allow the fall arrester’s locking mechanism to engage automatically. In addition, the standard now allows for knots in lieu of manufactured termination. Manufactured termination, also called factory termination, is the term used to describe the end of the rope. ANSI Z359.15 section E3.1.7 states, “Using knots . . . in lieu of a manufactured termination in the field to anchor the lifeline is the responsibility of the local competent person and beyond the scope of this standard.” Knots are beyond the scope of the standard because variables make repeating the same knot exactly impossible, making knots untestable and therefore, unable to be standardized. Section E3.1.7 continues to say, “The competent person should ensure that the knot used is correct for the application and does not adversely affect the performance of the system in regard to strength or security.”

ANSI provides an ANSI Z359.15 overview online. If your company uses fall arresters and lifelines, make sure that you understand this standard. And as always, if you have questions, we are here to help.


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Nathan Muller

Senior Technical Writer | Rigidlifelines.com
Nathan Muller is the Senior Technical Writer for Spanco and Rigid Lifelines. Nathan has nearly four years of experience in technical communications and copyediting. He graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. in English and a minor in Professional Writing. He is also a member of the Society of Technical Communication.