So, the ANSI committee may be considering another postponement of the new standard on self-retracting lifelines. It would be best if the new standard disappeared.
ANSI Z359.14-2012 was approved on January 26, 2012 and became effective on August 20, 2012. It was an extensive revision of standards for self-retracting lifelines. It introduced new terms to the fall protection industry: Class A, Class B, and Leading Edge self-retracting lifelines (changed to self-retracting devices).
The new products made it easy for users to determine which products would work in a variety of applications in the field. Class A was the best innovation in fall protection since Clarence Rose introduced the DynaBrake shock absorber in 1957. Finally general industry had a product that works when the employee is working four feet above the next walking surface without the risk of striking the level below.
The new version changes everything. Gone are the Class A, B and Leading-edge designations. Also gone are clearance requirements that will work at four feet. Their own clearance chart for an overhead SRD requires 6.5’!
One of the reasons for this is that ANSI has once again changed the test weight. What started at a 220-pound steel weight, went to a 282-pound steel weight, and now features a 310-pound steel weight. I have yet to see the testing that proves this is accurate for a human. My own jump indicated 260 might be more appropriate.
Most egregious of all is the warning card that must be included for the new version of their renamed leading edge SRL (they claimed the name change was that is confused with OSHA’s definition of leading edge, which anyone in the industry has no problem with the alleged confusion).
The warning states in part: “The user, the competent person and/or qualified person should all acknowledge that normal use of this device MAY NOT PREVENT A SERIOUS INJURY.
When was the last time you issued any type of safety product to an employee, and you had to provide that type of warning. Why would any employee want to use that type of product? Would you? If this is true, why would they develop a product like this?
Elon Musk said of engineers that their most common error is to work to optimize a thing that should not exist. I think we have reached that point with fall protection.
Some are arguing that the standard should move forward because they have developed products that meet this new standard. Put me in the camp that says we are developing the wrong products.
Keep .14 the way it is. It works.
By Mark Damon, Damon Inc.
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