Suspended Load Safety
There’s an old saying that it isn’t the fall that hurts you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. It isn’t very much fun if something falls on you from a distance, either. Whether you’re rigging a load, operating a crane, or part of the lifting crew, it’s important to know when and where loads are being lifted.
Before any lift, all handling materials should be checked. Even if everything was fine the day before, visual inspections should be the standard operating procedure. Frayed wire rope, damaged hooks, bent closing latches, worn slings and straps, and anything else that looks fatigued should be scrutinized for safety.
The rigging crew will need to be near the jib or boom when preparing a load for lifting. But once the load is in the air, it’s important everyone clear the area below. Even if the load itself is only a few feet off the ground, make sure to stay a safe distance away. A 2-ton load can do a lot of damage from two feet off the ground.
Especially if the load isn’t properly secured. While a bundle may stay in place when being lifted up, the directional movement may cause shifting and dropped materials. If need be, a tag-line should be used to let workers help steady a load from a safe distance. Never guide a load with your hands, no matter how light or steady the load appears.
The same rules apply when the load is being lowered into place. Don’t approach the load until it is on solid footing and the wire rope has gone slack. When preparing to unhook the load, be aware of any shifting the load may have endured. Make sure the wire rope and hook are well clear of the load to prevent any last-second snagging.
The best way to keep workers safe during a lift is to establish a work boundary before the work begins. This boundary should be marked long before work begins at the site during the planning stage. The locations of the load initially, the crane, and where the load will end up should all be accounted for.
From there, a circle or arc can be drawn in the plans and then established at the site. This boundary should be clearly marked on the ground as well as elevated surfaces that may be occupied by workers. If possible, move other vehicles, storage areas, and anything else that can be removed from the area.
A designated spotter should be employed as an extra set of eyes for the crane operator. While the lift should be engineered before the operator even gets into the cab, unforeseen circumstances could arise. Even higher than expected winds could cause the load to shift unexpectedly.
Even the most experienced crews need to follow these safety guidelines when a load is in the air. A moment of inattention can lead to long-lasting injuries as well as damaged materials. NessCampbell is proud of our safety division and has regional safety professionals available for every job. Contact us today if you would like more information about what we do.
And always wear a hard hat!