8 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Rigging Heavy Loads

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a construction or manufacturing site that doesn’t contain rigging hardware of some kind. Rigging and lifting heavy loads is a critical operation across multiple industries. And, while experienced riggers make hoisting loads look easy, the reality is far from it.

There’s a reason why OSHA lists ‘struck-by-an-object’ accidents as one of the four leading causes of construction fatalities. Improperly rigged loads often give way to catastrophic consequences. Few things are as dangerous as unsecured thousand-pound equipment that’s several feet off the ground and at risk of breaking lose any moment.

Worse still, human error is one of the root causes of overhead crane accidents. It is not uncommon for workers to make simple (but entirely preventable) rigging mistakes on/off-site, most of which may lead to devastating disasters.

To avoid these blunders, you must understand them first. This post will walk you through eight common errors you should steer clear of when rigging heavy loads.

Choosing the Wrong Rigging Equipment

Just as how loads come in all shapes, weights, and sizes, different rigging hardware have different capacities and weight limits. If you plan on picking slings and wire ropes at random, you’ll be setting yourself up for a world of trouble. Think of it as putting truck tires on a car and expecting it to run without hitches.

Hence, you must find the right rigging equipment for the right load to keep accidents at bay. Before purchasing any hardware, take the time to comb through your requirements diligently. Compare the dimensions of your loads against the lifting device’s capacity to gauge whether or not it is suitable for the task at hand.

Not Reading Identification Tags

Most rigging hardware have detailed identification tags that display their rated load limits and other viable information in crystal-clear detail. When an equipment doesn’t have this tag, it’s a serious red flag.

OSHA advises riggers against using equipment without legible identification markings, as they’re the only way to determine a device’s lifting capacity.

First and foremost, you must ask your riggers to check for identification tags on the rigging supplies. Besides, ensure that they know how to read and understand the information given on the tags. Advise them to report any losses immediately without neglect.

Failing to Clean and Store the Equipment Appropriately

All too often, workers store rigging equipment without cleaning it first. This simple oversight can have far-reaching aftereffects. Leftover moisture and debris on the rigging hardware can lead to corrosion, causing the device to weaken.

Also, lifting equipment tend to lose their integrity if they aren’t stored properly. You’ll want to keep your lifting devices somewhere dry, cool, and free from movement. Try and protect synthetic slings from UV radiation as well. The further they are from environmental corrosives, the better.

You may feel tempted to leave your slings and ropes on the floor, but this will leave them exposed to foot traffic, weld splatter, and grinder sprays. Instead, keep your rigging devices on racks and shelves to make the most of their service life.

Using Rigging Equipment Without Inspections

When it comes to lifting heavy loads, a single misstep can cost you a fortune. Fortunately, inspecting rigging equipment before use can help you avoid a good number of accidents. Moreover, it can minimize the risk of equipment failure.

Here are a few common things that you should keep an eye out for during each equipment inspection.

  • Missing/unreadable identification tags.
  • Cuts, tears, and chemically damaged synthetic slings.
  • Stretched links on alloy chain slings.
  • Signs of deformation on wire ropes.
  • Indications of welding repair.
  • Amateur below-the-hook lifting devices.

Ignoring the Load’s Structural Integrity

As mentioned, not all heavy loads are made the same. Some containers may be partially filled, in which case their contents may shift from one side to another mid-air. Others can disassemble when hoisted. Either way, these circumstances may cause the rigger to lose control of the load.

It’s up to the rigger to account for the contents in the load, thereby taking adequate safety measures to stabilize it as best as they can. Plus, they should establish if the load itself is fit enough to be lifted from multiple points.

Not Paying Enough Attention to the Load’s Weight

Generally speaking, most objects are lifted to a rigging equipment’s working load limit (WLL), or the maximum weight a particular lifting device can handle under normal conditions.

Although this seems fairly straightforward, many riggers struggle with determining the weight of the load. Working with heavy loads that have not been carefully weighed is dangerous, to say the least. Unless you know how much the load weighs, you won’t be able to select a lifting device with an appropriate WLL.

In case you’re hoisting a device/equipment that’s made to be lifted, it should have its weight marked front and center. However, if the weight isn’t specified, you need to work it out yourself. Here are a few ways to do this.

  • Go through the bill or shipping documents. They usually contain some information about the weight of the load delivered to your site.
  • Use an industrial scale for lighter weights.
  • Browse the catalog data.
  • Manually calculate the weight.

Bear in mind that weight loads should factor in every single piece of rigging hardware used, including slings, beams, hook blocks, and shackles.

Using the Wrong Slings for the Lifting Job

Industrial lifting slings play a vital role in rigging and lifting heavy loads. Often used in combination with other kinds of rigging equipment, slings help enhance capacity and provide added support to the load.

That said, a poorly chosen lifting sling can throw the entire overhead lifting project off-balance, endangering lives and destroying expensive equipment in the process. Not to mention, it can damage the hoisted load as well.

As with other types of rigging hardware, you must analyze multiple variables associated with the lift before settling upon a sling. Doing this will save you a lot of stress, frustration, and expenses down the line.

Slings should always be paired with appropriate protection. Edge guards and sleeves can save your slings from constant abrasions, making sure they last longer.

Hiring Inadequately Trained Workers

Employing inadequately trained riggers is one of the worst mistakes you can make during an overhead lifting project. When workers don’t know what to do, there’s a greater chance of things going wrong.

Since there’s very little room for rigging mistakes on a construction site, having qualified riggers is critical to guaranteeing workplace safety.

In this regard, note that OSHA does not require riggers to be certified by an accredited organization. Employers may choose third-party regulatory bodies to assess a rigger’s skills, but it is entirely voluntary.

According to OSHA’s guidelines, a qualified rigger has extensive hands-on experience with material handling, but no formal training or certifications. In contrast, certified riggers are required to pass stringent written and practical examinations.

Regardless of whether you choose a qualified or certified rigger, they must have enough lifting and rigging training. Moreover, they should be capable of handling complex rigging equipment safely and effectively.

In Conclusion

Given that rigging can be highly hazardous, it’s important to exercise caution every step of the way. Knowing these common rigging errors will help you build an appropriate action plan that prevents them at all costs.

At Holloway Houston Inc, we can be your go-to for well-made rigging equipment that ensures safe lifting. Feel free to reach out to us or browse our inventory today!