Chain Use

Originally published 07/22/2015

Chains are common on every construction site, and you should be aware of the best chain to use for a particular purpose.

There are different chain grades, and each one has a different use or application. These can be separated into three main categories:

  • Overhead lifting chains – only use grades 80, 100 or 120 for overhead lifting.
  • Transport hauling chains – grade 70 is excellent for load securement and tie-down applications when hauling loads.
  • Other welded industrial chains – choose 30 and 43 grade chains for pulling, agricultural and load securement applications.

Select a chain designed for the job you are doing. For instance, if you are planning to pull a vehicle out of the mud with another vehicle, you should use a chain that has a grade of 80 or above. A chain of lesser grade might break, and the snapback could injure or kill someone. While stronger chains typically won’t snap, the pulling force may cause the pulled vehicle’s hooks, bumpers and frames to bend or break.

Inspect chains on a regular basis. Wear points indicate that the chain is weaker than its original grade level. Look for wear at the points of contact between each chain link and for stretched, twisted or deformed links. Make sure that the chain flexes easily, and there is no heat exposure damage like discoloration and weld splatter.

Lifting chains should have metal tags showing the grade and load rating. If the tag is missing, do not use the chain. Never assume that an unmarked chain is strong enough for lifting.

While chains are rugged and useful tools, they will break when we exceed their limits. Use common sense with chains. Never stand directly under a load, and never modify or improperly use a chain.

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Rigging Safety

Originally published 11/04/2015

Failure to properly secure static loads for transport causes injury to people and damage to property. When securing a load against unwanted movement during hauling, employees should use the same rigging techniques for tie-down as for lifting. The consequences of rigging failure during transport can be just as disastrous as dropping a load during a high crane lift.

The quality of the rigging equipment is important. Rigging materials such as chains, straps, hooks, eye bolts and clamps are not required to meet the same standards as similar gear used for lifting. However, when using come-alongs, strap winches and other tightening devices, the strain on rigging materials can begin to approximate lift strain. When the strain on equipment caused by tightening is combined with the strain of a truck when turning quickly, climbing a steep grade or making sudden stops, the strain on equipment can equal that of lifting, and cause rigging to fail.

Most chains used for hold-in-place rigging are grade 70. While these chains are very strong, they do not meet OSHA standards and are not safe for overhead lifting. Chains that are rated for lifting are typically SGG grade 100 chains. It stands to reason that a 70-grade chain is more susceptible to wear and tear than a heavier grade chain.

To ensure safety, inspect all tie-down equipment before use as follows:

  • Test chain links for stretch and breakage.
  • Inspect hooks for deflection at the throat and twist.
  • Inspect eye bolts and other terminating attachment points for wear and deflection.
  • Test tie-down points on the truck or load surface for wear and damage.

The same procedure should be used for straps and other tie-down equipment. If the equipment shows extreme wear, don’t use it.

Additional tips for load management include:

  • Place lighter items at the bottom of the load so that heavier items can help hold them down.
  • Block items against each other, or bundle them together, to minimize shifting and movement.
  • Lay tall items flat in the truck bed or trailer, when possible.
  • Block the wheels of equipment to prevent rolling. Wrap straps around and through wheeled equipment to further secure it.
  • Cover items with a solid, waterproof tarp to prevent damage from rain and airborne debris.
  • Tag all load corners with red flags if the load extends four feet beyond the bed of the truck or trailer.

Well-secured loads provide safety for your employees as well as the motoring public.

Download the recording form here.

Danger: Fall Zone

One of the most important steps in planning for, and making, safety a reality on the worksite is knowing where people are going to be working while high hazard activities are taking place. So far in the 2015 construction season, there have been several types of dangerous conditions taking place repeatedly. We must stop these behavior patterns before a life-threatening injury takes place. One of those dangerous behaviors is allowing non-essential personnel in fall zones.

Today we will talk about the necessity to keep the fall zone clear when we lift materials with a crane. The OSHA Crane Standard Subpart CC defines a fall zone as:

“Fall zone means the area (including, but not limited to, the area directly beneath the load) in which it is reasonably foreseeable that partially or completely suspended materials could fall in the event of an accident.”

Suspended loads can fall, and they can seriously injure anyone under, or near, the load in the fall zone. There are times when workers must be in a fall zone area, and OSHA regulations allow for this if they are working on an essential job related to the suspended load. The following standard identifies the essential jobs:

29 CFR 1926.1425(e)(2)

“Only employees essential to the operation are permitted in the fall zone (but not directly under the load.) An employee is essential to the operation if the employee is conducting one of the following operations and the employer can demonstrate it is infeasible for the employee to perform that operation from outside the fall zone: (1) physically guide the load; (2) closely monitor and give instructions regarding the load’s movement; or (3) either detach it from or initially attach it to another component or structure (such as, but not limited to, making an initial connection or installing bracing.)”

Only workers directly involved with managing or rigging the load should ever be in the fall zone. When workers are in the fall zone, the crane operator must know where they are in relation to where the load is and where it’s going. They should either be in the crane operator’s line of sight or in communication with the crane operator. All other employees should stay out of the fall zone until the crane operator delivers the load.

Plan ahead, and stay out of a fall zone. If the lift or rigging fails, you will have saved lives.