April 3rd, 2013
The lingo of the world of fall protection can get convoluted pretty quickly, especially when it relates to different regulatory standards. CSA (Canadian Standards Organization), OHS (Occupational Health and Safety Act), ANSI (American National Standard), and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) all have their own language and areas of applicability that must be navigated in order to both manufacture and use fall protection equipment correctly. Not all of these standards are legally obligatory (only OHS and OSHA carry any formal legal weight), and not all of them necessarily apply at once (CSA and OHS apply to Canada, and ANSI and OSHA apply to the United States, although portions are used in other countries as well).
But, with all that said, the interplay between all of these standards is very much a reality, and the better one’s understanding of how all these regulatory bodies function, both in isolation and in conjunction with one another, the better shape they will be in when it comes to maintaining compliance with the standards.
A key to accessing these regulations is to understand the tiers in which they function. OHS and OSHA, as already mentioned, are legally obligatory, and are enforceable with fines or other penalties by their applicable governmental bodies. These regulations, however, are presented on a broader scale than their partners, CSA and ANSI, which, while technically voluntary, provide much more in-depth detail about how equipment must be manufactured, tested, and used. Considering CSA and ANSI to be voluntary though, can be a dangerous path to tread, since, for example, OHS at times cites specific CSA standards, and the General Duty Clause in OSHA (which requires an employer to “…furnish…a place of employment which [is] free from recognized hazards…”) can easily draw upon an ANSI standard to make its case.
As Norguard and Guardian Fall Protection move forward together in both Canada and the United States, it is clear that our strong knowledge and proper application of OHS, CSA, OSHA, and ANSI regulations will be important to our success.
Fortunately for all users of these standards, when they are looked at side-by-side, there are many more similarities than differences, especially between CSA and ANSI. In fact, many of the new or updated CSA and ANSI standards draw directly from one another, which is a trend that will continue into the future. This isn’t to say that CSA and ANSI don’t have their differences, which range from labeling requirements, to testing, to device classifications, which makes it a necessity to always carefully read and apply any and all applicable product standards. At their heart, however, the purpose of all these standards is the same, which is to keep people safe when working at heights.