Addressing the Needs of the Heavier Worker in Fall Protection

An Interview with Randall Wingfield

This interview is posted with permission from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), publisher of Professional Safety. Click on the PDF icon to the right to read this article as it appeared in the October 2008 issue of Professional Safety.

 

In this interview, Randall Wingfield, president of Gravitec Systems, Inc.,and chair of the Z359 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) on Fall Arrest and Protection, explains how those in fall protection are addressing the needs of the heavier worker.

Q: Give a brief overview of your professional background and responsibilities.

A: As an officer in the military, I was responsible for designing and teaching courses in mountaineering, rock climbing and winter survival. Later, I used these skills to start a mountaineering company. The transition from recreational climbing to industrial fall protection was natural, and I founded Gravitec in 1986. The company specializes in fall protection and rescue.

Q: With respect to fall protection, how is a heavier worker defined? How often do the criteria for defining heavier workers change?

A: Typically, we use the term capacity when referring to workers’ weights in standards writing for fall protection equipment. The current capacity weight range given in the Z359 Fall Protection Code is 130 to 310 lb. If we look at the upper range, 310 lb is the maximum capacity for a fully equipped (tools and clothes) worker. Most people in the industry define workers who weigh more than 310 lb as heavier workers.

The criteria for defining capacity have not changed since 1992, and the Z359.1 standard has remained constant. We have discussed going beyond the 310-lb range, but since we are governed by science and available data, the committee is holding to that capacity range as is.

We recognize that the North American population is getting heavier and that we may need to exceed 310 lb while taking into account energy absorption, clearance requirements and ultimate protection of the heavier worker. We are at the limit of what science can offer…Read More >>

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