The Complete Guide to Industrial Spreader Bars

A spreader bar works by distributing a load across more than one point, increasing the stability and decreasing the load applied during hoisting. They typically have two lifting points going up to transmit the load to the crane and two going down to attach the object required to be lifted.

In this post, we have shed light on how does spreader bars work, safety instructions, best operating practices, and all other key aspects that you must remember if you are deciding to avail spreader bar rentals.

A. What Are Spreader Bars?

Spreader bars have simple anatomy and serve as a crucial piece of equipment in the lifting industry. They comprise a long bar holding wire rope slings apart to the lifting distance. Spreader bar for lifting converts the lifting loads into compressive forces in the bar and tensile forces in the slings. This makes lifting and moving heavy loads easier.

The best thing about spreader bars is that they allow a single crane to lift loads from multiple locations. With these bars, it’s also easy to spread the load and provide balance to the lift.

You can also adjust the length of the spreader bars by altering the length of the shackles to accommodate a range of lift spreads. Since the loads are placed axially, spreader bars are either square or round tubes. Now that you know what is a spreader bar, let’s understand why you need them.

B. Why Do You Need a Spreader Bar?

A spreader bar allows the user to attach the load at two points. This evenly spreads the load throughout the bar and wire rope slings and make it easier to lift. Moreover, the attachment points are positioned so that the bars seamlessly allow vertical hoists.

This make it possible to lift loads that are likely to get damaged from angled slings. Spreader bars are highly durable and can handle the loading points without bending or breaking.

Due to their efficacy and ability to lift loads, spreader bars are primarily used to lift objects that are too large to balance from a single point. This is particularly true if they are not designed to handle adverse loading conditions because of the tension force caused due to slanting when they are being lifted. These types of loads primarily include concrete pipes, portable toilets, skip bins, dongas, and removable housing blocks.

Thanks to the nature of spreader bars, the load doesn’t cause any stress or bending on the bars and shackles while the load is being lift. The lifting points are inclined at specific angles so that the load is entirely compressed through the bar, making it behave just like a column. This allows spreader bars to lift heavy loads without causing any damage to man or machinery.

C. Safety Instructions for Handling Spreader Bar

Spreader bars are fabricated devices that serve specific requirements. So, it’s advisable not to use them for a purpose they are not designed for. Here are few things you should keep in mind before availing spreader bar rentals. You should never:


  • Exceed the rated load or lift loads deemed unsafe by the manufacturer
  • Use a bar that is damaged or malfunctioning
  • Use it to lift people
  • Leave suspended loads unattended
  • Remove the warning labels
  • Use the bar without thoroughly understanding the procedures involved
  • Stand underneath or near a suspended load
  • Make modifications to the bars

After the don’ts, let’s discuss the dos of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of spreader bars.


  • Make sure to understand the instructions for using slings and attachments
  • Calculate the load imposed on the spreader bars before use
  • Ensure that the load will remain stable when lifted
  • Always use tag lines to control long loads
  • Inspect the lifting apparatus before and after every use

Remember that spreader bars should be examined every six months by a professional, even if you have taken spreader bar rental. Avoid using the device if you notice any distortion, damage, corrosion, wear, loose or missing bolts, cracked wields, worn-out attachment points, or any other type of fault.

D. Operating Practices

When using a spreader bar, you must know how to use a spreader bar and ensure to comply with the safety instructions. Here’s what you should remember:

  1. Spreader bars should be operated by trained professionals. They should be used by designated individuals, persons under the designated person’s direct supervision, inspectors, and maintenance and test personnel.
  2. The designated person should provide the operator with the necessary instructions for using the device. The instructions should include performing a visual inspection, the procedure for assembling the spreader bar, the rigging requirements, and proper lifting techniques. It should also include specifications regarding examining the condition of the load, not exceeding the rated load, ensuring the proper attachment of the adaptors, and more.
  3. The operator should not use any bar that has been marked “out of service” or designated as non-functional.
  4. “Out of Service” tags should not be removed without the consent of an authorized individual.
  5. The authorized individual should perform a thorough visual inspection of all the components. The person must affirm that it’s properly assembled and free from defects.
  6. All rigging equipment present in the spreader bar should satisfy the recommended rigging geometry and have the manufacturer’s capacity rating label.
  7. Tag lines must be used wherever necessary to stabilize and direct the load from a safe distance.
  8. The bar should not be used to carry people or lift a load over people.
  9. No one should be allowed to remain near the bar when it’s being lifted or moved.
  10. Adequate care should be taken to ensure there is no sudden acceleration or deceleration of the load or motions that may cause a swinging motion of the load.
  11. The spreader bar should be used in a manner that minimizes or eliminates shock loads.
  12. The spreader bar should never be used for side pulls or sliding the load.
  13. Proper care should be taken to ensure that the bar does not come in contact with any obstruction when being used.
  14. No modifications or alterations should be made to the spreader bar.
  15. The tags, labels, and any markings present on spreader bars should not be removed or altered.
  16. The spreader bar should not be used for any purpose for which it was not designed.

E. Common Spreader Bar Mistakes

It’s essential to maintain workplace safety, especially when heavy industrial machines are being used. Here are three of the most common mistakes that should be avoided at all costs for ensuring the well-being of site workers.

  1. Often, the spreader bars are not properly attached to the telehandler. The bars should always be attached to each fork with locking pins and safety chains. The chains should be latched to the forklift carriage, ensuring that the chains are not sagging. Failure to do this when hauling or lifting may lead to workplace hazards.
  2. In several cases, the bar doesn’t remain perfectly level with the bar’s left and right anchor points. It sits at different angles, leading to unnecessary straining of the bar’s hook. This can compromise the stability of the lift and put workers’ lives in danger.
  3. Sometimes, the load is not evenly distributed under the spreader and hangs more to the right than left. This may lead to tipping or spinning of the load. Adhering to the guidelines meant for proper forklift and telehandler usage can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

F. Wrapping Up

Spreader bars are manufactured to withstand heavy loads.  They are designed to be durable and not bend or break due to large tension force. They are now extensively used in the lifting industry to lift and move heavy loads from one location to another.

Knowing how to use these bars and understanding the need for maintenance and inspections, safety instructions, and mistakes to avoid will definitely help you get the best out of them.  You can avail spreader bar rental, rigging rental, and shackle rental at competitive rates from trusted organizations like HHI Lifting so that you don’t come across any issues pertaining to lifting loads at your construction site or workspace.