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The Basics of ANSI/ASSP Z359: Fall Protection Standards System

Every year, thousands of workers face the dangers of working at heights. With this comes the saddening fact that falls are one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities and injuries. There are over 100,000 fall related incidents annually, all of which could be prevented with the use of proper fall arrest and restraint systems, underscoring the critical importance of using such measures to ensure worker safety and prevent tragic accidents.

To address these risks comprehensively, the Fall Protection Standards System was created. Developed by ANSI and ASSP, these standards, first published in 1992 and continually added to since, are designed to outline the best practices, equipment requirements, and safety protocols necessary to minimize the risk of falls and protect workers in elevated work environments.

The following is a basic list of the current Z359 Fall Protection Standards at the time of writing. The following provides a basic understanding of the standards and is intended to provide an overview only and is not all-inclusive of every change in included or planned standards.

ANSI/ASSP Z359 Fall Protection Standards

Z359.0-2018 — Guidance Document for Definitions and Nomenclature Used in Z359 Fall Protection and Fall Restraint Standards

This Standard was developed to be used as a reference for all terminology and definitions uses in the ANSI/ASSP Z359 series of standards for fall protection programs, systems, and equipment.

Z359.1-2020 — The Fall Protection Code

This standard focuses on the design, testing, and usage guidelines for personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), including harnesses, lanyards, and anchor points. It outlines minimum performance criteria and requirements for equipment inspection, maintenance, and usage instructions. Safety professionals should use this Standard to develop comprehensive managed fall protection programs and design active fall protection systems.

Z359.2-2023 — Minimum Requirements for a Comprehensive Managed Fall Protection Program

Z359.2 emphasizes the importance of implementing a robust fall protection program within organizations. It covers elements such as hazard assessment, training requirements, rescue procedures, eliminating and controlling fall hazards, incident investigations, fall protection procedures, and program evaluation to ensure a proactive approach to fall prevention.

Z359.3-2019 — Safety Requirements for Lanyards and Positioning Lanyards

This standard addresses lanyards and positioning lanyards, which are crucial for preventing falls in situations where workers are at risk of reaching edges or unstable surfaces. It specifies equipment design, usage limitations, and training essentials for these systems. This Standard is intended to be used primarily by the manufacturers and test labs of this equipment.

Z359.4-2013 (R2022) — Safety Requirements for Assisted-Rescue and Self-Rescue Systems, Subsystems and Components

Z359.4 outlines requirements for assisted rescue and self-rescue systems, enabling workers to respond effectively in emergency situations. It covers equipment design, training protocols, use, maintenance, and rescue plan development to ensure timely and safe rescue operations. Those that are part of rescue operations will benefit the most from information in this Standard.

Z359.6-2016 — Specifications and Design Requirements for Active Fall Protection Systems

This Standard was developed for engineers trained as qualified persons and who have expertise in the design of active fall protection systems. It focuses on active fall protection systems such as horizontal lifelines, vertical lifelines, and fall arrest tracks. It provides criteria for system design, installation, inspection, and maintenance to enhance reliability and performance in real-world scenarios.

Z359.7-2019 — Qualification and Verification Testing of Fall Protection Products

This Standard focuses on qualification and verification testing of fall protection products. It was first published in 2011 with the goal of standardizing testing procedures for fall protection products labeled according to the Z359 Fall Protection Code. Prior to 2011, testing requirements for each product and related test equipment were included within individual product standards1. This standard ensures that fall protection equipment meets safety and performance criteria, providing confidence to users and safety professionals that the products are reliable and effective in preventing falls.

Z359.9-2021 — Personal Equipment for Protection Against Falls – Descent Controllers

This Standard focuses on descent controllers used for protection against falls. The standard establishes minimum requirements for both automatic and manual descent controllers intended for use in various workplace scenarios, including rope access, rope descent, and evacuation. Descent controllers play a crucial role in safely lowering workers during emergency situations or routine maintenance tasks at height. It ensures they meet stringent safety criteria including requirements about design, performance, testing, marking, use, and maintenance and removal, providing confidence to workers and safety professionals that these devices are reliable during critical moments when working at height.

Z359.11-2021 — Safety Requirements for Full Body Harnesses

This standard focuses on full-body harnesses. It defines safety requirements for performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, test methods, inspection, use, maintenance, and removal from service of full-body harnesses.

Z359.12-2019 — Connecting Components for Personal Fall Arrest Systems

Z359.12 specifies requirements for connecting components used in personal fall arrest systems, including connectors, energy absorbers, and deceleration devices. It ensures compatibility, strength, and reliability of these critical components during fall incidents by setting requirements for performance, design, marking, qualification, test methods, and removal from service.

Z359.13-2013 (R2022) — Personal Energy Absorbers and Energy Absorbing Lanyards

This standard focuses on the performance and design criteria for personal energy absorbers and energy-absorbing lanyards used in fall arrest systems. It addresses factors such as energy absorption capacity, deployment characteristics, testing procedures, inspection requirements, maintenance, and removal from service. All personal energy absorbers and energy absorbing lanyards are required to reduce the forces implied on users to less than 10 times the normal gravitational pull of the earth – 10G.

Z359.14-2021 — Safety Requirements for Self-Retracting Devices for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems

Z359.14 outlines safety requirements for self-retracting devices (SRDs) used in personal fall arrest and rescue systems, including self-retracting lanyards (SRLs), self-retracting lanyards with integral rescue capability (SRL-Rs), and self-retracting lanyards with leading edge capability (SRL-LEs). It covers aspects such as design, performance testing, inspection procedures, usage guidelines, and more to ensure effective fall protection.

Z359.15-2014 — Safety Requirements for Single Anchor Lifelines and Fall Arresters for Personal Fall Arrest and Rescue Systems

Single anchor lifelines and fall arresters play a critical role in personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). This standard lays out safety requirements specifically for these components, including design criteria, materials used, strength testing, installation guidelines, inspection procedures, and usage limitations. Adhering to Z359.15 helps ensure the reliability and effectiveness of these vital safety devices.

Z359.16-2016 — Safety Requirements for Climbing Ladder Fall Arrest Systems

Climbing ladder fall arrest systems are commonly used in various industries, especially for tasks involving vertical ascent and descent. This standard specifies safety requirements tailored to these systems, covering aspects such as ladder design compatibility, attachment points, clearance requirements, load capacity, energy absorption capabilities, and user training guidelines. Compliance with Z359.16 is essential for safe ladder climbing practices.

Z359.18-2017 — Safety Requirements for Anchorage Connectors for Active Fall Protection Systems

Anchorage connectors are key components of active fall protection systems, such as horizontal lifelines, and their safety is critical to overall system effectiveness. This standard focuses on safety requirements specifically for anchorage connectors, including design specifications, materials used, strength testing, compatibility with anchor points, installation guidelines, inspection procedures, and usage limitations. Adherence to Z359.18 ensures reliable and secure anchorage for fall protection systems.

Z459.1-2021 — Safety Requirements for Rope Access Systems

ANSI Z459.1-2021 establishes safety requirements specifically for rope access systems used in work-at-height scenarios. These systems involve the use of ropes, harnesses, and associated equipment to enable workers to access and perform tasks in elevated or difficult-to-reach areas safely.


While it may initially appear burdensome to adhere to guidelines, by doing so, organizations can mitigate risks, ensure compliance with regulations, foster a culture of safety, and ultimately ensure their workers get home safe and the numbers of fall-related incidents are lowered.

Take proactive steps to enhance your workplace safety today. Contact a sales rep for a personalized fall protection solution for you or explore our range of fall protection. Together, we can work towards making every worksite a safer place for everyone.


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