As of October 2012, all fall protection products must be tested by an accredited lab, according to the new ANSI standard for Qualification and Verification Testing, Z359.7. The new standard is considered an umbrella standard, meaning it does not relate to only one specific type of product, but instead relates to all personal protection products addressed in the ANSI Z359 Fall Protection Code. “This includes things like full body harnesses, lanyards, anchorage connectors, and self-retracting devices,” says Craig Firl, technical manager for Capital Safety.
What are the new requirements?
The new standard development has been in the works for a few years. As the ANSI Z359 Fall Protection Code continued to grow and develop, “it made sense to take steps that would further solidify the importance of this voluntary standard and increase the validity of products that meet ANSI Z359,” notes Firl.
According to the new standard, there are three important requirements a fall protection product must meet to be compliant. A product must comply with:
- Both ANSI Z359.7 and the applicable Z359 product standard;
- All aspects of the standard, including performance, design, markings, inspections, instructions, maintenance; and
- The most current edition of the standard.
To meet ANSI Z359.7, all products must be tested in an ISO 17025-certified lab. The accreditation includes written training and process/procedure instructions, having properly calibrated equipment, and, of course, having the capability to perform all applicable product tests based on the ANSI Z359 testing requirements. Certified labs are also regularly audited by an accredited third party.
What does it mean for you?
The standard sets requirements for the testing and verification of products to help assure that they fully meet the applicable ANSI Z359 product standard. “In the past,” says Firl, “there was no assurance that each product was actually tested and there was no verification of compliance.” This new standard requires testing by an ISO 17025-accredited lab, and retesting every few years. As a part of the standard, the end-user is also allowed to request compliance verification by way of certifications and testing documents.
Ultimately, it gives assurance and peace of mind to end-users working at height. “Knowing that the ANSI Z359-compliant product that a concrete contractor uses has been tested in an accredited lab setting assures him or her it is a quality product that will perform when called upon to protect someone,” Firl says.
Firl adds that while ANSI is voluntary, “this standard is clearly the most up-to-date and comprehensive fall protection standard we have available. Using an ANSI Z359-compliant product means that the product has been tested, it meets the latest fall protection criteria, and it performs at a very high level.”