Choosing a Harness: Understanding Fall Protection Standards


ANSI/ASSP Z359 was originally a safety standard for general and non-construction industries. Originally published in 1992 and later revised in 1999, this standard was intended to be the first part in a series addressing comprehensive fall protection programs. This standard initially addressed only fall arrest systems and equipment. In 2007, ANSI released the ANSI/ASSP Z359 Fall Protection Code as the umbrella for a series of 17 fall protection standards.

These 17 standards address not just fall arrest systems and equipment, but all fall protection systems and equipment for general industry. To date, the ANSI/ASSP Z359 committee has released 10 of the 17 sections.


The ANSI/ASSP A10 standards apply to the demolition and construction industries. The construction industry standards cover important requirements for steel erection, scaffolding, fall protection, and safety nets. The demolition operating standards cover hoists for rope-guided and non-guided workers, debris net systems, commercial explosive and blasting agents, rigging qualifications, digger derricks, and hearing loss prevention.

ANSI/ASSP A10.32 is the standard for fall protection systems in construction and demolition operations. To date, the ANSI/ASSP A10 committee has released 37 standards in ANSI/ASSP A10 and has 9 standards that have been proposed but not completed.

Which Standard Is Right for Your Business?

So should your business follow ANSI/ASSP Z359 (general industry) or ANSI/ASSP A10 (construction and demolition industries)? The short answer is: refer to ANSI/ASSP Z359 for fall protection. Unlike OSHA, the existing ANSI standards do not define what constitutes construction or general industry. Although OSHA does define the construction industry and general industry, it is not always clear which one is applicable. Some businesses may even fall under different industry designations in different situations. For this reason, it is typically best to default to the standards of ANSI/ASSP Z359 to ensure both worker safety and standards compliance.

Did you know?

Additionally, the ANSI/ASSP Z359 committee has proposed measures to make ANSI/ASSP Z359 applicable to all industries. If this transition were to take place, ANSI/ASSP A10 fall protection requirements would compliment or reference ANSI/ASSP Z359. As it stands now, ANSI/ASSP Z359.2 should be considered the most important fall protection standard to follow for any industry because it “establishes guidelines and requirements for an employer’s managed fall protection program.” ANSI/ASSP Z359.2 explicitly states, “This standard is for use by organizations where employees are exposed to fall hazards.” If you are unsure of which standard to follow, ANSI/ASSP Z359 is probably your best bet.

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