Rigging is one of the most demanding industrial processes. If often involves lifting and moving (sometimes dismantling) remarkably large objects such as concrete or steel pipes, structural steel elements, building materials, equipment, and even vehicles. As it requires you to use one or more cranes and several ropes, clamps or straps, pulleys, winches, cables, and chain hoists, it requires skill and planning.

The slightest mistake in calculating the load, tension or any other factor when rigging can cause considerable damage to the equipment. This, in turn, can lead to substantial economic losses as well as deadly accidents. In fact, around 80 lift and material handling equipment workers are killed each year on average. So, you need to take safety seriously.

Here are five tips that will help you make rigging safer than ever:

1) Let Only Qualified Personnel Do the Rigging

One of the first things you need to do is to ensure that the workers running a rigging operation are qualified to do so. Usually, certified rigging workers engaged in industrial hoisting and rigging activities have to undergo proper training and education for handling rigging equipment. They provide you with the first line of defense against potentially fatal rigging issues.

Most courses offer an overview of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) policies and ASME (American Society Of Mechanical Engineers) rigging standards and safe rigging practices. Different rigging courses with varying lengths, ranging from a few hours to a couple of weeks, are available online.

You can get your existing employees certified through a course or hire ones with the required qualification. The local law may also require you to hire certified workers for specific rigging tasks. So, try to enroll in local courses. For example, if you are from Houston, try looking for Houston rigging equipment training courses.

2) Ensure to Rig a Balanced Load

Keeping the load balanced is also a critical safety factor. You should keep the load stable, else it is likely to tip the crane over or cause the load to swing. Here is what you should do:

  • Make sure to keep the load tied properly to prevent it from shifting or dislodging during the lift.
  • Keep the load under your control until the task is complete. Use enough taglines to prevent it from swaying uncontrollably.
  • Keep the load blocked while it is getting unhooked and unslung to make sure it lands safely.
  • Always attach the load to the hook with slings or other rigging devices. You mustn’t wrap the hoist rope around the load.
  • The load line should always be over the center of gravity of the load.
  • Mark all the lifting beams with their maximum weight and working loads to prevent overloading.
  • Be sure to secure or remove unused sling legs before lifting the load.
  • Keep hands away from pinch points as slack is being taken up.
  • If you are using more than one sling, make sure they are made from the same material and have the same thickness.

3) Carry out a Thorough Inspection before the Project Starts

A thorough inspection is necessary before the start of each rigging project. You should inspect the load and various rigging equipment carefully to avoid potential accidents to damages. There are two types of inspections: on-site inspection and in-house inspection. You can use your own crew for a quick on-site inspection before the commencement of each project.

However, it is better to hire a qualified rigging inspector to carry out the in-house inspection of your rigging gear from time to time. Another set of eyes will provide you an impartial and honest review of your safety and other concerns before it’s too late. It will also keep your staff alert.

Both ASME and OSHA offer detailed guidelines for rigging gear inspection. These apply to all rigging systems whether you are using Houston rigging products or rigging equipment from Chicago. However, local laws may also apply. Make sure you adhere to local and national rigging inspection guidelines and laws when carrying out the inspection. Keep detailed records of all your inspections, issues detected, and the action taken.

4) Always Document Your Rigging Issues

During an inspection, you are likely to come across a variety of technical and safety-related issues. Make sure to document all these issues and the respective actions taken by your staff. These records will not only help you keep track of your rigging repairing and maintenance, but may also lower your insurance costs in the long run.

Most insurance companies will offer a lower premium to the rigging organizations with frequent inspections and detailed records as they have a lower risk of accidents and damages. Documentation also allows you to understand which employees handle your equipment with more diligence.

5) Use a Spotter during the Rigging

Sometimes, you may not have a clear view of the rigging movement. To avoid potential damage caused by blind-spots, use one or more spotters when moving the load. A spotter is a man who reduces the risk of accidents.

Always hire a certified spotter as they can understand the necessary spotting signals. Usually, certified spotters undergo training and need to pass verbal as well as a written test to get the certification. They also have a basic understanding of how rigging cranes work.

The spotter should remain at the designated position at all times during the lifting. They should also provide early and effective signals to the crane operator and the rest of the crew. Each spotter should focus on only one area of the moving load to avoid distraction. This is why you should use more than one spotter, if necessary.

Wrapping Up

That’s all! These six security tips will reduce the risk of accidents and damage resulting from manual errors when moving heavy loads. Reduced chances of accidents mean lowered costs of workers compensation, reduced maintenance and repair, and higher work output. However, this is not an exhaustive list. Have you used any other tips to make your rigging operations more secure? Tell us about how you increase safety during lifting heavy loads in the comments section below.