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The Ultimate Safety Guide to Hoisting and Rigging Heavy Machinery

Moving heavy materials from point A to point B is vital for the efficiency of any operation working with massive loads — construction materials, pipes, shipping containers, building structures and more. But lifting and rigging procedures demand trained and skilled workers to ensure a safe environment. Your crew should be aware of the different hazards associated with hoisting as well as the various rigging safety factors.

When it comes to holding and moving suspended loads, Equip Trucking & Warehousing, LLC is an expert you can trust to get the job done safely and accurately.

Rigging Safety Hazards

Rigging heavy machinery demands safe practices on a range of worksites. Paying attention to detail is crucial, and any neglect can result in harmful or fatal accidents.

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 220 crane-related fatalities occurred between 2011 and 2015, averaging about 44 deaths each year.

Cranes support construction and industrial projects as operators hoist and rig heavy and often oversized loads. Heavy machinery is necessary when the materials at hand are too substantial or bulky to move manually or by using other equipment. The cranes rely on slings to hold suspended loads overtop construction sites.

Common accidents when hoisting heavy machinery include:

1. Dropped Goods

Hoisting and rigging allow you to carry goods at excessive heights across worksites. Done right, you and your operators can securely transport a multitude of materials to their appropriate locations. However, improper rigging can lead to dropped goods, which can endanger workers, equipment and your site’s progress. Faulty rigging is often a result of human error. Products slide off or drop altogether.

2. Electrocutions

The key to operating heavy machinery is always to be aware of your surroundings. For example, overhead powerlines can cause electrocutions and can even collapse if your crane strikes them. An electrical path forms when parts of the load line, hoist or load itself contact energized electrical lines. Keep a safe distance and adhere to the minimum permitted distances when operating any machinery.

3. Faulty Components

Not all rigging hazards result from human error. Make sure you conduct regular and preventative maintenance on your machines by inspecting the slings, hardware and tackle before each operation. Replace any defective parts and never use the unit if you think it’s unsafe or not running well.

4. Incorrect Weight

Before operating the rigging and hoisting machinery, always know the unit’s working load limit and never exceed that number. Failure to adhere to its weight limits can cause the crane boom to collapse. Because different machines have varying weights they can handle, make sure to follow the indicated weight limits by considering load weight and sling boundaries.

5. Tipped Cranes

Tilted cranes can be the outcome of improper outrigger setups. Other factors that can cause tipped units are poor ground conditions, empty spaces, depressions and uneven grading. It can be challenging for a worker to control the crane’s operation if the machine is on an unstable surface or the ground is wet. Remind your team only to operate when the load is on a plumb hoist line, and conditions are steady.

Although crane tipping is rare, it’s vital to be aware of its dangers when safety is ignored.

6. Weather Conditions

Don’t operate a hoisting or rigging operation if severe weather or wind is apparent. You want to avoid swinging or rotating loads. First, assess the load size compared to the weather. Then, consider visibility in the elements like snow, rain, dust or fog. Be aware of dangerous weather conditions, time of day, wind and freezing temperatures that can affect load safety.

Hoisting and Rigging Safety Manual

Safety advice for hoisting and rigging comes down to creating a safe atmosphere for both your operators and ground workers.

When you know how to hoist and rig heavy machinery properly, it can help reduce injuries and fatalities. Proper training will help your crew recognize safe vs. unsafe procedures, including weight limits, outrigger positions and ground conditions. When you and your team are aware of the possible rigging hazards, you can better combat any issues and adhere to the right safety measures.
Hoisting and Rigging Safety Manual

1. Communication Is Key

When so many other operations are happening on a single worksite, communication is vital between heavy machinery operators and ground workers. Use radios, walkie-talkies, hand signals, whistles and other clear communication techniques that everyone understands.

Crane operators will need to know the direction, weight, material, distance, obstacles and other factors of each hoisting and rigging maneuver. Training will help everyone communicate effectively and help limit disasters, accidents, misunderstandings and miscommunications.

2. Proper Hoisting and Rigging Methods

Slings are the most common way to suspend loads on different lifting devices, including wire rope, mesh, chain and synthetic options. Wire ropes are often used for heavy loads, while chains have great strength for harsh lifting conditions. Mesh is ideal when working with hot or sharp objects and can aid with load balancing. Synthetic slings help protect your loads from damage.

Before going in on a project, you will need to know the load weight, the capacity of the hoisting machine and the working load limit of the rope, sling and hardware.

3. Understand Outrigger Positions

Always inspect machines, analyze the ground conditions and take care of deflection levels before hoisting and rigging.

Though working at great heights with massive loads can increase your risk for accidents, proper training can help you understand the correct safety procedures to maintain a safe workplace. When assembling the material, use the machine’s outriggers in the right conditions. Implement perimeter safety techniques and safety nets, too.

4. Use the Correct Machines

Different machines have different capabilities, and depending on your fleet, the machines may have a mix of load capacities and weight distribution properties. Training will help your team know which machine is ideal for particular hoisting and rigging projects.

Ensure your crew recognizes how to calculate the load’s total weight — material, chains, hooks and other components — compared to the capacity of a machine. They should understand how to connect the ropes, slings and hooks and how to create the best knots and hitches.

An overview of safety tips:

  • Connect two slings using a shackle
  • Don’t attach a sling to a lifting lug
  • Don’t point load hooks
  • Figure out the load’s center of gravity
  • Inspect each sling and rigging hardware before using
  • Know the weight and the proper hitch of each load type
  • Never tie two or more slings together
  • Protect slings from tears and cuts
  • The sling shouldn’t bunch on the shackle
  • Understand tension and angle on slings
  • Use the right sling solution
  • Use the correct size shackle and hook
  • Work with the right hardware

Safety is a priority when transporting airborne loads. You need knowledgeable and trained operators to ensure safe rigging, lifting and landing procedures. No matter the distance, safety is the first step in any hoisting and rigging operation.

The best thing to do is to rely on professionals to help prevent accidents. Partnering with a professional rigging company with a history of proven success can support the safety of your operatives.

Rely on the Proper Rigging Practices and Techniques of Equip Trucking & Warehousing

Equip Trucking & Warehousing specializes in moving massive loads safely and efficiently by understanding your requests and developing a plan tailored to your situation. Our experts support single machinery operations or entire worksites. We provide lifting and rigging solutions, disassembly, transportation and more as a full-service provider.

Refer to our industrial rigging services or contact our support team online for more information. We come equipped with the necessary riggers, machines, professionals, millwrights and other solutions to get the job done.
Rely on the Proper Rigging Practices and Techniques of Equip Trucking & Warehousing