ANSI Z359.9 – Committee on Descending Devices

Kelly Streeter traveled to Boulder, CO during the week of March 21st to participate in the semiannual meeting of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359 Committee on Fall Protection. Vertical Access has been an active member of the Z359.8 subcommittee, which addresses Rope Access work practices, for more than 5 years. During the last meeting in November of 2010, Kelly was elected as the chairperson of the Z359.9 subcommittee on descending devices.

The Z359.9 subcommittee is lucky enough to have an excellent seed document from the Canadian Safety Association (CSA), which adopted the ISO 22159 Descending Devices document, with a few significant changes. The mandate of the subcommittee is to review the ISO document and to edit, where necessary, to reflect the ideal environment of equipment manufactures, testing and work at height in the United States.

The ISO document identifies eight different types of descenders by characteristics such as the presence or absence of an integral line or a panic brake. Whereas the CSA opted to exclude certain types of descenders, the ANSI subcommittee is hoping to include all of the types of descenders that are currently being used in general industry today. This community is wide and varied and includes consultants investigating and documenting buildings and structures, window washers, arborists and workers in both traditional and emerging power generation industries as well as in many general industry rescue applications. Our goal is to ensure that the testing requirements for individual devices and the training requirements for each type of device are specified so that workers can continue to descend safely in the workplace.

During our meeting in March we identified next steps.

  • It was decided that a sub-sub committee would be created to concentrate on reviewing the 56 pages of testing specifications currently in the document.
  • Editorial work will be completed so that units reflect the ANSI specified units of measure.
  • Other subcommittees will be consulted to ensure that any conflicts between the Z359.9 subcommittee and other subcommittees (specifically Z359.2 on training and Z359.4 on rescue) are identified and resolved.

Our next conference call to discuss progress on these tasks is on May 18th at 1pm EST. If anyone is interested in joining in, please contact Kelly Streeter.