Come-a-Longs & Chain Hoist Safety

Originally published 11/15/2016

Hand-operated hoists have many applications on a construction site. Typical applications include hoisting pipe or plates into position for welding or bolting, moving machinery, fence stretching and lifting engines or equipment during repairs. These devices are simple to operate, but misuse can result in sudden failure, property damage and serious injury. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Inspect the hoist to be sure it is in good condition. Do not use any hoist that appears to have been overloaded. Some things to look for include a bent handle, bent hooks, stretched chain links, broken ratchet teeth or stiff operation. Anything that is cracked, bent, distorted, deformed or broken probably indicates overloading.
  • You must know the weight of the load you plan to lift. Never attach a load greater than the capacity of the hoist. Never use two hoists to lift a load that is heavier than the rated capacity of either. A shifting load may place the entire load on one hoist, causing failure. Also, keep in mind that capacity ratings are based on a new hoist. Age, dirt, wear and improper maintenance will reduce the lifting capacity.
  • Never put a “cheater bar” on the operating lever or use more than one person to pull the lever. It is a sure sign that the hoist is overloaded if the load can’t be moved by one person using a normal pull.
  • Make sure that the structure your hoist is hanging from is strong enough to support the load you are lifting, as well as any possible shock load.
  • Use these devices only in locations that will not expose you to a hazard if you lose your grip or slip; use a site that permits you to stand clear of the load at all times.
  • Never operate a hoist in a manner that causes the load chain to bend or slide around objects such as corners or sharp edges. Do not use load chains or cables as a substitute for a sling.
  • Apply the load evenly. Do not jerk, bounce or allow the load to swing. Any violent motion or shock loads could easily exceed the capacity of your hoist.
  • Always be sure the load is centered on the hoist before lifting to avoid a swinging load.
  • Never leave a suspended load unattended, and never work or walk under a suspended load or allow anyone else to do so.

Remembering these guidelines will enable you to use hoists safely.


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