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Lifting Chain Grades Explained – How To Choose The Right One

Did you know that pile of rusty chain you have sitting in the corner of your workshop falls under Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment (LOLER) regulations? Okay, so maybe it’s only used occasionally, in combination with your chain block, lever hoist, gantry clamps, or overhead crane, to lift an engine from its chassis, or move other heavy items around the workshop. Nonetheless, if you attempt to lift above its maximum lifting weight, or age and neglect have weakened the links and the chain snaps, you could have serious litigation on your hands if anyone is injured. Here we have a look at lifting chain grades, to help you choose the right lifting chain types for your needs.

lifting chain grade

UK chain steel-grades

Chain steel grades in the UK fall generally into one of three types, G8, G10, and G12, although there is also a G80, which will be referred to a little later. The higher the chain’s code number (G8, G10), the better the steel quality, and the higher the weight that can be lifted. However, when it comes to safety and heavy weights, nothing is that straightforward. Although chains are used for towing, securing loads, or dragging large tree stumps out of the ground with a tractor, they are classified ‘lifting’ chains for good reason.

All Working Load Limits (WLL) for a chain, are based on the maximum weight the chain can lift vertically (straight up). If you need to drag a load up a 45° platform, the WLL of the chain needs to be higher, to allow for the additional forces exerted on the load.

As well as the quality of the steel used in manufacture, the diameter of the chain will also have a bearing on its WLL. The thicker the links, the heavier the load it can lift. Lifting chains are generally available from 5mm to 32mm diameter.

Lifting chain grades G8, G10, and G12

The higher the quality of the steel, the more weight a chain of a given diameter can lift. In a hypothetical scenario, you need to lift a weight of X tonnes. A G8 chain of 10mm diameter is required to safely perform the lift, but the chain’s weight makes the sling heavy and difficult to manage. A G10 grade chain of the same diameter is capable of lifting an additional 25% of weight, so a lighter G10 chain of say 6mm diameter may solve the problem. G12 chain steel grades can lift an extra 50% weight compared to a G8 grade chain of the same size, and an extra 20% more than G10 chain of the same diameter. All lifting chain types, no matter what their grade, have to comply with BS-EN818.

The G80 chain steel grade mentioned earlier is often manufactured from a boron alloy, rather than pure steel, and will likely have fittings, (hooks etc) which are not compliant to BS-EN1677. Although the WLL is rated the same as G8 grades, in certain situations its performance may differ from G8 chains, so careful consideration needs to be given to their use.

Sling configurations and their effect on WLL

As well as the lifting chain grades having an influence on the WLL, so too does your sling configuration. Sling configuration generally falls into:

The type of sling used, one, two, four legs, and the angle of each chain leg to the vertical, can all have a bearing on the maximum working load limits. It is for this reason that such things as lifting beams and lifting spreaders are added, to keep each chain as close to the vertical as possible, increasing the maximum weight it can safely lift.

Understandably, all of these aspects have a vital part to play in ensuring both safety and efficiency. Considering which lifting chain grade is best for your particular project as well as the appropriate sling configuration will undoubtedly save a considerable amount of both time and hassle. 

Chat to the experts

If all this talk about lifting chain grades sounds a little confusing, when all you want is to lift a piece of machinery or equipment from A to B a couple of times a month, then get in touch with the team here at Universal Lifting Hire Services. Whatever the weight or type of object you want to lift, we have a sling of the correct lifting chain grades to suit the particular material and weight of the piece you want to move. We also have the industry knowledge and experience to ensure that we provide you with the most beneficial option for you. Give us a call today on 0203 488 0966 to find out more.