We know there are select times that are perfect for things like air conditioning maintenance and lawn care, but what about lifting inspections? When is the best time of year to check your rigging hardware, and how often should your inspections be?

Before we launch into this article, it’s important to know that both OSHA and ASME require a minimum documented inspection of lifting and rigging equipment every 12 months. In more serious conditions, you may even be asked to conduct monthly/quarterly inspections, depending on:

  • Frequency of use
  • Your loads and handling activity
  • The severity of service conditions

As long as you’re not under requirements from OSHA and/or ASME to do more frequent inspections, it’s up to you to set the schedule. So, let’s talk about when you should check different kinds of rigging equipment – and why.

Rigging Slings

Rigging Slings

First on our list is slings. These must be inspected “periodically,” but what does that mean for you?

Our suggestion is to check your slings at the beginning of each new season. Not only will this ensure that you’re inspecting them frequently enough, but it will also give you the chance to prepare your slings for new weather conditions/temperatures.

Keep in mind that nylon and synthetic slings can be impacted by warm weather and lots of sunlight. Therefore, it’s especially important to inspect these items at the end of the summer when they’ve experienced heat and exposure.

What do you need to check at these seasonal inspections? We recommend watching out for:

  • Illegible sling identification information.
  • Pits.
  • Corrosion.
  • Cracks.
  • Twists.
  • Broken fittings.
  • Burns (acid or caustic).
  • Melting or charring of any part of the sling.
  • Holes.
  • Tearing.
  • Snags.
  • Broken or worn stitching.
  • Excessive wear.
  • Knots.
  • Discoloration.
  • Brittle or stiff areas.

If you notice any of these problems on your slings, synthetic or not, it’s important to remove the item from service ASAP. Even the smallest abrasions or burns can seriously decrease the safety of the product.

Hooks

damage on any of your rigging equipment

Next on our list are hooks. ASME B30.10 requires that all of your rigging hooks be visually inspected periodically by a qualified individual. However, the frequency of these inspections depends heavily on your schedule and the use of your particular hooks.

At Holloway Houston Inc., we recommend inspecting your hooks at least once a year based on wind. You might be thinking, “Wind? How am I supposed to know that?”

Traditionally, spring is the windiest time of year, which means inspecting your hooks at the end of the winter is a smart idea. Why? Because wind, more than other weather conditions, affects crane operations the most – and therefore your hooks’ capabilities, as well.

Here are the hook conditions to watch for during your spring inspection:

  • Deformation, especially at the hook’s throat opening.
  • Wear and corrosion that exceeds 10 percent of the original section.
  • Nicks/gauges that are bigger than a fingernail’s thickness.
  • Non-operable latches.

If any of these issues are spotted, it’s time to take that hook out of operation – especially before the winds pick up and crane accidents become more common.

All hook inspections should be performed by a designated qualified person. Keep records of the hooks you have in service, as well as the ones that are removed due to problems.

Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices

Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices

Now it’s time to talk about your below-the-hook lifting devices. When do they need to be inspected?

First, we need to address the fact that “lifters,” or below-the-hook lifting devices, come in several different forms, including:

  • Structural and mechanical lifting devices.
  • Vacuum lifting devices.
  • Close-proximity lifting magnets.
  • Remotely operated lifting magnets.
  • Clamps.
  • Scrap and material-handling grapple.

Each of these should be inspected at least once a year. Our recommendation? Do so right before the time of year in which your lifters see the most work.

For example, do you use below-the-hook lifting devices on your stage? Have your inspection scheduled before the big show season. Are you lifting many heavy loads right before the holidays? Schedule your checkup around Halloween.

Any inspection for below-the-hook lifting devices should look for issues with:

  • Broken accessories (chain alloys, wire rope slings, metal mesh/natural/synthetic fiber rope, synthetic web).
  • Spreader beams.
  • Coil hooks.
  • Sheet lifters.
  • Magnets.
  • Balancers.

If you find glaring issues with any of the items listed above, it’s time to take the lifter out of service – immediately. Don’t risk further safety issues and/or accidents by leaving potentially problematic below-the-hook lifting devices in action.

Lever Hoist

Lever Hoist

Lastly, let’s talk about the best time of year to inspect your lever hoist(s).

Our professional recommendation? Inspect your level hoists on the anniversary of their installation date, every year. Doing so on a specific date every year ensures that you notice problems as they arise instead of after it’s too late.

Problems to watch out for during your periodic level hoist inspections:

  • Unusual sounds in the operating mechanisms.
  • Worn, glazed, or oil-contaminated friction disks.
  • Excessive wear.
  • Corrosion.
  • Loose bolts, nuts, or rivets.
  • Cracks.
  • Illegible warning labels or information.
  • Corroded, stretched, or broken pawl springs.
  • Damage to hook-retaining nuts/collars/pins/welds.
  • Problems with the load sprockets, idler sprockets, hand chainsaw wheel, or drums.
  • Distorted connections

Another important thing to remember about lever hoists is that you need to complete load tests, as well as periodic inspections. You should always test loads as light as 50 lbs and as heavy as 100 lbs.

In Conclusion

Having rigging equipment that fails inspection isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great chance to avoid accidents and become 100 percent certain that your job site is safe. OSHA won’t penalize you for gear that fails inspection, as long as you remove it from service immediately.

However, you will be penalized for any accidents, injuries, and/or fatalities that occur on your worksite, especially if they’re the result of faulty gear. Don’t let it get to this point – conduct our inspections as often as necessary and at the proper time.

Remember, rigging safety doesn’t stop with inspections. Employee knowledge and training is one of the biggest parts of proper gear use, checks, and removal. Ensure that all of your workers can quickly spot damage and take dangerous hardware out of service.

If you ever need help with rigging equipment inspections or employee training, reach out to our team at Holloway Houston Inc. We’re dedicated to ensuring quality standards within rigging products and sites.

Keep in mind that as a part of our value-added proposition, we provide “Fundamentals of Rigging Safety” training seminars for free to existing or prospective clients. You’ve got nothing to lose. Let us invest in your people’s knowledge, focus on risk management, and provide you with a better understanding of inspections.

Typical seminars are 4 hours long and can be offered in either English or Spanish.