While many new topics are addressed in the draft ANSI Z359 fall protection standard, one of the critical concepts presented is certified and non-certified anchorages for fall protection systems. Since the consequences of failure can be so dire, it is imperative that persons involved in the selection and design of anchorages understand the limitations and risks involved with using both certified and non-certified anchorages.

Regulations and Standards

The safety requirements set forth by OSHA represent the regulations that must be followed by law. Consensus standards, such as ANSI, represent the best practices in the industry and many times become the precursor for the direction in which the regulations are headed. For fall protection, OSHA requires that fall arrest anchorages be capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs. per employee attached. Alternately it is stated that fall arrest anchorages be designed, installed and used under the supervision of a qualified person as part of a complete personal fall protection system which maintains a safety factor of at least two. But, who is a qualified person? According to OSHA 29 CFR 1926.32(m), " Qualified means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project."

The ANSI standard for fall arrest equipment is Z359.1, which was originally released in 1992 and reaffirmed in 1999. The existing document references anchorages as needing to be capable of supporting at least 5,000 lbs. in the absence of certification or 3,600 lbs. with certification. In the original standard, part of the definition for certification (section 2.13) states it is "[a]n act or process resulting in the documentation that determines and attests to criteria that meet the requirements of this standard."

For the past several years, the ANSI Z359 committee has been working on a new draft family of standards to reflect the changes in the industry and provide a more comprehensive and informative document. Full understanding of certified and non-certified anchorages is best achieved within the context of the draft Z359.2-200X standard, Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program. The draft standard describes this comprehensive program and includes:

  • Policies, Duties and Training

  • Fall Protection Procedures

  • Eliminating and Controlling Fall Hazards

  • Rescue Procedures

  • Incident Investigation

  • Evaluating Program Effectiveness

Included in the fall protection procedures section is the need to first identify fall hazards within a facility. Once the hazards have been identified and prioritized, they can be systematically abated following the Hierarchy of Control. If a solution with anchorages and personal protective equipment is chosen, then one must understand the different types of anchorages, the issues associated with selecting anchorages, design loading and other important design considerations.

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