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Working with lifts, hoists & cranes

The hazard associated with static lifts and hoists is that of failure under load, which may lead to a falling weight or a flailing cable. There is also the potential for crush injury where personnel come between the moving load (or crane) and a fixed object.

Managing hazards

It's important to think about managing hazards when using lifts and hoists. The following advice is useful:

  • All lifting tackle (hoists, jibs, slings, lifts, cranes, cables, etc) must undergo routine testing and certification to ensure they are fitted to operate. All such apparatus must be marked with its safe working load (SWL), and this load never exceeded.
  • Only suitably trained and certified personnel may use mechanical lifting apparatus, and are responsible for ensuring it is operated in a safe manner.
  • Security of the load is paramount, as an unstable load is a danger to all in its vicinity. Even where a load is secure, never stand beneath an elevated load.
  • When guiding a moving load, it may be necessary to stand close to it. In such cases, avoid standing in the direction of load movement, and never stand between the load and a fixed object such as a wall, barrier or machine if there is a possibility of crush injury.
  • When lowering a load, keep feet well clear. Persons in the vicinity of moving loads must wear safety boots and helmets.
  • Palletised loads should be restrained by banding or otherwise where required, and the pallet constructed to withstand slipping and lateral displacement.
  • When using slings or straps, loads must be well balanced, and arranged so that the load cannot slip through the sling. Wherever present, lifting lugs must be used in preference to slinging a load.
  • Shackle pins must be securely screwed into place before lifting when used.
  • Any chains, cables, pulley blocks and other apparatus used must be capable of safety lifting the planned load.
  • Once the load has been raised very slightly, the security of the slinging/shackling arrangement and the stability of the load must be assessed. Only if this is satisfactory may lifting continue.

Emergency procedures

If apparatus is suspected to be unsafe, has failed, or is out of certification, it should be labelled as such and rendered inoperable. This restriction will stay in force until the apparatus is repaired and inspected.