Critical Mistakes That Impact the Safe use of Rigging and Hoisting Equipment

LiftingRigging and hoisting equipment is a part and parcel of all construction sites and it needs to be used adhering to the highest standards of safety to make sure there are no accidents. One of the reasons that accidents occur at the workplace is because the people in charge of this equipment make critical errors. These errors could be anything ranging from choosing the wrong rigging equipment, inexperience, or not keeping the weather conditions in mind before setting up the rigging for a particular application.

But out of the many errors that are made, there are four that stand out for their seriousness and the fact that they can lead to some catastrophic results including damage to the construction site and/or the loss of lives. Let’s take a look at them:

1.       Assuming the Working Load Limit of the Equipment

Assumptions on construction sites are a recipe for disaster, and if these assumptions concern the use of rigging equipment, they are a recipe for a huge disaster. One big mistake made by rigging personnel is choosing equipment not really knowing the working load limit (WLL) of this equipment. They assume the WLL and you know what they say about assumptions, “Most assumptions are wrong”. This results in the choice of the wrong equipment, which essentially cannot carry the load of the application. The equipment is tasked to carry a load beyond its working capacity, leading to damage and on-site accidents.

Therefore, it’s important not to assume the WLL of the equipment. Do not choose equipment that has not gone through a manufacturing integrity test (proof test) and whose WLL you are not really sure about.

2.       Irregular Inspection

Another mistake is made, when equipment like wire rope etc. is not inspected regularly. Ideally this equipment needs to be given a once over, every time before use. This inspection must be conducted in accordance with modern practices and conforming to the manufacturer’s requirements. The inspection procedure followed must keep in mind all the guidelines of Occupational Safety Health and Administration (OSHA).

A rigging system has the job of lifting heavy objects and you should make sure that the equipment isn’t damaged in any way or form. For e.g. wear and tear can lead to excessive broken wires or localized damage of wire ropes. If such wire ropes are not removed from service, they can impact the safety of the rigging operations. At other times, equipment can get corroded due to exposure to water or the humidity in the air. Even such equipment is dangerous to use. Equipment damage can only be identified through inspection. If you don’t inspect it properly, you won’t be able to locate the chinks in the armor, and will be compromising the safe use of such equipment.

3.       Not Conforming to Safe Lifting Practices

Choosing the right equipment is just one of the ways you can ensure their safe use, but what is also important is following safe lifting practices. For e.g. the hoist hook must be located directly above the center of gravity of the load. If this fact is not taken into consideration, it will result in a dangerous tilt and create an imbalance during hoisting operations. As can be imagined, this isn’t safe for anybody working on or around such equipment.

This is just one example of how the lack of safe lifting practices can impact the safe use of such equipment. This is also the reason why it is important to hire personnel who know their way around such equipment.

4.       Lack of proper training of Personnel

 If you do not pick the right personnel to handle this equipment, you are committing another cardinal error. The people who work with rigging and hoisting equipment must be well aware of how to pick the right equipment for the job and more importantly, how to set it up. They must also be aware of the established procedures for inspection, care and maintenance of this equipment. If they are unaware of such procedures or don’t know the importance of following these procedures, your construction site will be susceptible to unacceptable risks. To avoid such a scenario, make sure you hire only those people who are well versed in the use of such equipment.

If you have gone through these mistakes, you must have realized their seriousness and the various ways in which they can impact the safety of the work equipment. By compromising their safety, you will actually be putting the safety of the construction site at risk. If you don’t want that to happen, you must avoid these mistakes at all costs.