Have you ever seen a load dropped seven stories from a crane? I have and it was traumatic, thankfully no one was hurt. Poor rigging and defective rigging equipment can lead to serious injuries and death. The cost of damaged equipment and materials can also be factored into that equation. Chains have the potential to break off and snap, or when you overload the equipment, swing uncontrollably and hit a person. As you can see in this YouTube video titled Blue Lever Hoist Accident, when stretched too taut, slings and chains could snap and hit a person’s head.
Workers should be trained under an OSHA-approved training program for cranes and hoists and should wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) when doing their job. The agency’s approved general hoist and crane safety program (under Construction safety training) also covers information on rigging, inspection procedures, how to not overload equipment, identify load capacities, and measure sling angles.
What are the things every worker should keep in mind when it comes to chains, crane hoists and sling safety? Workers should mind the following, according to a training video from The National Resource Safety Center:
– Inspect the hoisting equipment daily—before and after using it—to make sure that it is not damaged. Should you find out any signs of wear and tear on the equipment, or if you find out that a component needs to be repaired, make sure you inform your foreman about it.
– Do not ever use the crane hoist chain or wire rope as a sling. It should only be used for lifting.
– Observe established rated load capacities. Never overload your equipment as it is often the cause of rope, chain and sling breakage and accidents.
– Lift the load slowly and do not jerk it (i.e. stop the load abruptly).
– When lifting, make sure that the crane is off-center from the load and always lift the load close to the floor and parallel to it as possible.
– Observe loading and lifting procedures by keeping the lifting load straight and parallel to the floor. To prevent stress on the chains or slings, make sure to keep their angle at ten degrees.
– Sling angles, meanwhile, have to be kept close to vertical as much as possible.
– Replace bent safety latches and hooks that are no longer in an almost U shape. To preserve the hook, lift only at the center of the hook, not by its tip.
When shopping for chains, crane hoists and slings, Cranehunter.org offers advice on choosing the right type for your project. For example, when choosing slings, the website describes different types of sling options such as wire rope slings, synthetic slings, nylon slings and endless slings. The website also explains how you should choose chains and warns about using chains available on local hardware stores.
For more technical and detailed recommendations on what chains, crane hoists and slings to use, you can also check out this series written by Mike Gelskey of Lift It. The linked article, in particular, provides readers information on chain link systems, chain grades, which type of chain is lighter, and even which brands should be fitted together and work best. Don’t be misled by the marketing- you’ll definitely learn how to carefully select chain slings, links, and hooks.