The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific and set rules to keep workers safe while on the job. Workers who use rigging equipment or in a position where a fall is a possibility are protected by rules specifically designed for those jobs. There are a lot of accidents that cannot be prevented but there are a number that can with the proper preparation work. For example, whenever there is personal protective equipment (PPE) being used, the workers who are using it need to be trained on its proper use. Here are some tips for safely using rigging equipment:
Provide proper training.
Make sure all your workers are properly trained. Workers need to be trained on several aspects of the using rigging equipment. The training needs to include the proper way to use all your tools and equipment but also the proper way to inspect it. There should also be maintenance procedures that they know and will follow.
Mandate the use of PPE
Use of PPE cannot be optional. All appropriate PPE need to be used when workers are on the job site. This includes head, eye, foot, hand and hearing protection. Fall protection equipment needs to be used whenever a worker is going to be at a height of six feet or more. By the same token, any time a load will be lifted to a height of five feet or more, the workers on that job must use hard hats or other protective gear on the head.
Check all rigging equipment before use.
Before every shift, all of the heavy equipment needs to be inspected and prepared. There need to be safety procedures in place for the proper inspection of the site and the equipment that is being used. This should start with a visual inspection. The chains, hooks, slings and any rigging supplies should be looked over for potential problems that include cracks, broken wires, wear, kinks and other issues. If something looks not right, that should be reported and the equipment should not be used until it has been found to be safe. Warning signs needs to be visible and legible. The work site should be inspected to make sure there are no problem areas that may cause slips or falls. The lighting also needs to be sufficient to allow for the safe operation of all equipment.
After all of the area and the equipment has been inspected and found to be ready and safe, the rigging and hoisting equipment should be tested. Doing a dry run with nothing on the hoist is one way to make sure that it is actually working properly. Look at the drift and the stopping distance. Listen to the equipment for any unusual or troublesome noises, that can be an indication that there is a problem that you were not able to detect in the visual inspection process. Use a light load that is under 50 pounds to check the brakes on your equipment.
Operate your equipment safely.
Bad rigging and rig overloading are two of the main problems that cause accidents. Before your workers use any piece of equipment, they should take the time to read the manual. This is a step that many workers and business owners overlook or ignore. It is important to know the hoisting capacity so that operators do not exceed it. In that same vein, it is important to not guesstimate when it comes to the weight of a load. It is very easy easy to underestimate how much a load weighs and that can lead to overloading the rigging equipment. There are instances where a load cannot be weighed directly. In these instances, talking to an engineer can help with the determination of the weight of a load.
Make sure your workers understand the limitations of your hoisting equipment.
Hoist equipment is designed to be used by one person. If two people are needed to hoist a load, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Most commonly, that means the system is being overloaded. Check the weight of the load and the specifications of the equipment you are using.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility on a job site. By taking these simple precautions, your workforce can be kept safe.