Chain blocks, lever hoists and slings are commonly-used lifting equipment in the lift industry. Chain blocks lift loads vertically with a Safe Working Load (SWL) limit much greater than a lever hoist. Lever hoists, however, lift loads in multi-directions. There are also different types of lifting slings available that provide support for larger loads. All of these devices are essential pieces of equipment used when installing a lift, and like all tools, come with their risks. We look at the importance of lifting equipment safety and measures you can take to ensure a safe working environment.
A basic rule of thumb
One of the most important rules when using any equipment is to check it first. This may seem like common sense, but it is easy to forget or become distracted on the job. Examining equipment should come as second nature before starting work to ensure there are no signs of corrosion, wear or damage. Faulty equipment could result in loads being dropped, causing damage to the load and lift, or harming you or a fellow engineer.
Essential checks for chain blocks
For both chain blocks and lever hoists there are essential checks you should always undertake before a job. These include ensuring they have a current test certificate, checking the hook and spring clip for damage, making sure the chain is not twisted or kinked, and checking the SWL of the equipment. Never exceed the SWL of either the chain block or lever hoist you will be using. Overloading can cause wear and tear and increase the risk of failure.
Essential checks for slings
There are a range of belt slings available in different materials and sizes. The correct slings should be selected for the lift you intend to carry out, taking into account the material and capacity. When it comes to material, slings are either made from: polyester, which is resistant to moderate strength acids but damaged by alkalis; polyamide (nylon), which is immune to alkalis but damaged by acids; or polypropylene, which is rarely affected by acids and alkalis. The sling you choose should be both long and strong enough for the load and slinging method.
Similarly to checks on chain blocks and lever hoists, you should be aware of the SWL for the sling. Check the conditions of the sling, looking out for cuts and frayed fibres, and make sure slings are protected from sharp edges to avoid damage to the fabric. It is also wise to use a wooden platform under the load if isn’t rigid enough to support its own weight.
When problems arise
If there are any problems with the equipment or they do not have a current certificate of examination (for chain blocks and lever hoists) do not use them. It is also your duty to report any problems should they arise. This falls under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1991 (LOLER)*, which states that any defects found must be reported to both the person responsible for the equipment and the relevant enforcing authority. LOLER also stipulates that operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned and carried out in a safe manner. The emphasis on being safe, should therefore be drilled into your work ethos to ensure you use lifting equipment in the correct way.
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*Source on LOLER can be found here.