Self-retracting lifelines have created a new level of fall protection for at height workers since they were first introduced. Fast-activating braking systems have lowered both fall distances and fall forces. As the use of SRLs (more broadly referred to as self-retracting devices or SRDs) has increased across a wide range of industries, the American National Standards Institute ( ANSI) has taken a close look at the use and maintenance of these life saving devices. Their findings have resulted in new requirements designed to keep the manufacturers in sync and the end users doing regular inspections.
The revised standards went into place on August 20th, 2012 for self-retracting devices (SRDs) both with and without integral retrieval mechanisms. Let's take a look at the specific requirements of the changes to ANSI Z359.14 and find out how the devices themselves will change and which parts of the new standards will have the greatest effect on the employers abiding by the regulations.
In order for an SRL to be stamped as complying with ANSI Z359.14 the manufacturer of that product is obligated to indicate in their user instructions just what inspections the end user must complete, and how often, in order to assure the unit is operating correctly and continues to be in compliance with the regulations. Depending on the amount of use an SRL gets, it will need either annual, semi-annual, or quarterly inspections by a competent person as well as factory authorized inspections (again varying depending upon usage).
These factory authorized inspections are in-depth, opened up inspection of the units by factory trained and authorized specialists. The person administering these inspections is certified to perform them above and beyond the normal qualifications for a competent person.
The new standards divide the devices into two groups. Class A has a shorter maximum arrest distance of 24 inches and are used in areas with reduced fall clearance. Class A average arresting forces cannot exceed 1350 lbs. The larger group of devices falls into the Class B which has a maximum arrest distance of 54 inches, and the arresting forces don't go higher than 900 lbs. Manufacturers are now required to have a third party test and verify these levels are met.
Although many SRLs already have visual indicators, it is now a manufacturing requirement that a fall indicator - typically a ring built into the snap hook or a tear away section revealing a fall tag or simply red stitching - be present on the device to visually announce the positive indication of a fall.
Leading edge testing is also now included in the ANSI standards. Specific test criteria has to be met in order for the devices to be labels for work where they may come in contact with sharp edges or be involved in longer unchecked falls.
In order to maintain the Z359 requirements for fall safety, self-retracting devices must meet these verified requirements before leaving the factory, and they must continue to be be inspected and properly maintained to remain in compliance. It undoubtedly means more work for the end user. It also means a large investment from manufacturers such as Capital Safety who produce both the DBI-SALA and Protecta brands who need to have their Z359 stamped products tested by third parties to verify adherence to these new regulations.
In the end, ANSI has done what it is designed to do - create safer, more reliable products for the workers who use them every day.
If you have questions about old ANSI Z359 SRLs (they are non-compliant as of October 3, 2012) please contact us online at pksafety.com or give us a call at 800-829-9580 Monday through Friday 7am - 5pm PST.
As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.