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Mention lifting equipment, and most laymen think of those heavy cranes seen working on construction sites and dockyards. But the term lifting equipment covers a much wider range of machinery and accessories used in workshops, manufacturing plants, and by DIY enthusiasts on a daily basis.
Other than the likes of pallet-trucks, which only lift loads clear of the floor for moving purposes, most other lifting equipment such as electric and manual chain blocks, lever hoists; and beam clamps and beam trolleys, are subject to all the Health and safety requirements and LOLER safety inspections as the larger cranes. Similarly, used in an unsafe manner, they are just as likely to cause serious injury or death. So what lifting heavy equipment safety precautions should be taken to minimise lifting equipment accidents? We detail a number of vitally important lifting equipment safety checks below:
Make sure you use the correct lifting equipment
When you consider the HSE suggest 25kg should be the maximum weight lifted manually to waist height in the workplace, you realise why there is such a large number of different types of lifting equipment available for particular lifting tasks. In most instances, a pallet truck, sack truck, or forklift is all that’s needed to move the load from A to B, but in many operations, regular lifting of materials, products, or equipment has to be undertaken as part of the operational or manufacturing process.
Lifting equipment safety checks
In these workplace situations, a permanent beam clamp, beam trolley, or gantry may be fitted in the lifting area. If you have your own lifting equipment, it needs to be thoroughly checked prior to any operation for wear or damage, to comply with LOLER requirements. Lifting accessories, such as slings, shackles, and strops also need to be checked for damage such as fraying or kinks. Should the lifting equipment provide any cause for concern, the lift should be cancelled until the problem has been rectified. This is an incredibly important aspect to implement to ensure optimum lifting equipment safety at all times.
Get the right kit for the job
The operator must also know what the weight of the object to be lifted is, and ensure it is below the Weight Load Limit (WLL) of the equipment to be used, including the lift accessories. In instances where heavy lifts are undertaken on an ad hoc basis, hiring the lifting equipment from businesses like Universal Lifting Hire Services (ULHS), ensures you will get the right equipment for the project. All equipment is hired with full LOLER safety checks undertaken. They will advise on the correct equipment for the job, and ensure it can lift the required weight. Even their webbing slings are colour coded to denote their maximum WLL, so as to minimise the risk of weight-related lifting equipment accidents. A reputable company will ensure that all lifting heavy equipment safety precautions have been carried out in order to maximise the safety of each and every customer.
Know what you’re lifting
Although knowing the weight to be lifted is of paramount importance, you also need to know what the item is made of, and its peculiarities. What material the load is made of, wood, steel, concrete etc. will have a bearing on the type of lifting slings that should be used, to avoid damage to the object, and the risk of the slings slipping as they take up the load. So, factoring each aspect of the lift is important to ensure maximised lifting equipment safety.
Prepare your operational lifting area
Once you are satisfied your lifting equipment is the right type, and capable of lifting the required weight, you need to prepare the lifting area. All relevant lifting heavy equipment safety precautions should be put in place, such as the area being coned-off for operations, any debris or loose equipment moved from the floor area, and distinctive safety signs fitted. The only person present should be the operator and possibly an assistant. Both should be familiar with the particular lifting equipment, and what the job entails.
The lifting operation
The lifting equipment operator should also know the loads centre of balance. For instance, heavy concrete or clay pipes will often have a large collar on one end, meaning to get a smooth straight lift the CG will be closer to the end with the collar, rather than the centre of the pipe. Industrial machines such as lathes are another case in point. With all their operating equipment at one end, motors, electrics, large chucks etc, the CG will be substantially closer to that end, than the centre of the bed.
Unless the job specifically entails pulling the load up a ramp using a hoist winch, your lifting equipment should raise the load vertically to avoid damage or lifting accidents. For instance, an engine or gearbox being lifted from its bay, could swing into other components causing damage if the lift is off the vertical. In a worst-case scenario, if using a portable gantry to take the load, the momentum could be serious enough to cause the gantry to tip over, with the increased risk of damage to the load, and injury to nearby employees.
Whether you need to lift 2t of machinery, or 2cwt of cement, once it’s two feet off the ground the danger of any lifting accidents increases. If you have a new project coming up which requires the use of lifting equipment, contact ULHS today here. They have years of experience in the lifting equipment business, and can provide all the necessary equipment and advice required, to ensure the job is undertaken safely, and without incident, through providing you with lifting equipment that has undergone rigorous safety checks.