Top Considerations in Safe Rigging and Lifting

Industrial rigging and lifting call for workers to handle various materials and equipment, as well as set and erect large structures on a daily basis. These activities can prove to be hazardous. Workers often find themselves working in dangerous environments, wherein each operation may come with its own peculiar problems. Both workers and the employers acknowledge that industrial rigging is a hazardous occupation. We have read and heard about various instances where improper rigging practices have led to injuries and deaths of workers in oilfields. Such tragedies continue to happen.  Many a time, this is due to inadequate knowledge and training provided to riggers and other operational staff. With proper considerations, however, these jobs can be performed without causing any harm to the workers or damage to the equipment. It is important for industrial workers to know the proper methods of carrying out operations, rigging techniques and equipment, securing load, consequences of overloading rigging apparatuses beyond their capacity, and dealing with erratic moving machines.

What Riggers and Machine Operators Need to Be Aware Of

It is imperative that riggers and those in charge of handling heavy machinery and equipment are –

  • Qualified for carrying out assigned tasks
  • Trained adequately to be able to understand and identify the possible hazards linked with the assigned task
  • Aware of the surface conditions on which loading/lifting equipment is being operated. Note: The surface is required to be even and strong enough to support not just the lifting equipment, but the load as well. It is better to avoid loading unnecessary materials and objects, which can injure workers if they are struck by them.
  • Well aware of the proper rigging methods and equipment handling (e.g., slings, shackles, hooks, hoist, and blocks)
  • Knowledgeable about the relationship between the weight of the load and the rated capacity of the rigging gear and the lifting equipment
  • Capable of foreseeing problems before they occur, thereby preventing unfortunate circumstances from occurring. They must comply with all proper procedures while performing any given task.

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Precautions with Rigging Gear and Equipment

In order to minimize the probability of failed rigging gear and equipment, it is advisable that riggers thoroughly inspect them at the beginning of every shift and before resuming stalled work. Some precautions related to machine handling are –

  • Under no circumstances should the rigging gear and/or crane be overloaded. Doing so may cause them to fail, the crane to overturn, or cause damage to it.
  • Should the presence of defective gear and/or equipment be detected, make it a point to discard it immediately. Using such paraphernalia is inviting trouble.
  • Inspections of the rigging gear and the equipment should cover aspects such as checking wire rope slings for kinks, broken strands, and frayed areas, checking chain slings for stretched links, and checking bent or sprung hooks caused by overloading.

Safe Lifting Techniques

Apart from selecting the right sling and using it safely in order to hold and move a suspended load, there are four chief factors to consider when lifting a load securely.

  • Make a Level Lift

Most of the weight of a load may be concentrated at the center of gravity. In order to make a level lift, you need to make sure that the hoist hook is located right above the center of gravity. If the hoist hook is located away from it, it could lead to an imbalance and dangerous tilting of the load. Additionally, the slings will also experience stress from the unequal distribution of the load’s weight. It is, therefore, important to make a level shift.

  • Avoid Stress to the String Legs

Smaller angles between the sling legs and the horizontal (position of the load) will result in a greater stress on the sling legs. The increased stress decreases the capacity of the weight that can be lifted with the sling in a safe manner. It is advisable to move large and heavy loads by keeping this angle to the maximum so that the weight gets distributed evenly among the sling legs.

  • Focus on the Rated Capacity of the Sling

Typically, every manufacturer mentions the rated capacity of the sling in his catalogue so that workers are aware of it. It is based upon the type of material that the sling is made of, the size of the sling as the type of hitch. It is advisable that the rated capacity never be exceeded. Usually, alloy steel chains, wire ropes, and fiber rope slings are used when sling damage to the rope is of negligible or no consequence to the lifting of the load. Where sling damage is unacceptable, however, using synthetic web slings is advisable.

  • Expertise in Usage

A lack of adequate training and experience in handling and using slings are the top causes of accidents and injuries to workers. In order to keep hazardous incidents at bay, it is better to adhere to the manufacturer’s catalogues and instruction manuals which enlist recommendations for proper use, maintenance and increasing the longevity of the lifting gear and the equipment.

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Conclusion When it comes to being safe while handling heavy machinery and equipment, there is no substitute to being alert and receiving adequate and proper training. Being mindful of the above mentioned considerations should give you a perspective on some of the aspects of safe rigging and lifting.