Rigging Safety

Originally published 03/15/2017

Construction workers may think rigging looks like an easy operation, but, don’t be fooled. Many people who’ve thought that “anyone can do it” have lost fingers or hands, or caused much more serious injuries. Below are guidelines for safe rigging practices.

  • All rigging and lifting operations should be supervised by a qualified operator (a person having training and knowledge to be capable of identifying existing and potential hazards associated with hoisting and rigging activities, and having the authority to stop the work).
  • Your rigging is only as good as the clamps holding it together. All job-fabricated rigging must be designed and certified by a qualified engineer, and field tested at 125 percent of the rated safe working load.
  • In any kind of lift, only rigging that uses forged clamps should be used. Malleable clamps can fail and should not be used.
  • Each day before use, the sling and all fastenings and attachments shall be inspected for damage or defects by a competent person designated by the employer. Additional inspections shall be performed during sling use when warranted by service conditions.
  • Daily inspections must be recorded in a logbook and kept for reference. There are no excuses for equipment failure from rigging that should have been recognized as defective or worn. Any and all defective or worn rigging must be immediately removed from service.
  • Observe OSHA guidelines for use of cable clamps, safety latches, chains and slings.
  • Know the rated capacity of the cable, chain or wire rope being used.
  • Avoid overloading and sudden jerks.
  • Wear appropriate personal protection equipment consistent with the hazard, including hard hats, safety glasses and work gloves.
  • Check loads and inspect rigging to ensure a safe and balanced condition.
  • Do not stand, walk or work under suspended loads.
  • Awkward loads should have taglines attached to control the load.
  • Review signals and operator communications. Only one person should direct the operator. The signal person must not order a move until getting an “all ready” from each crew member.
  • Review the area for utility lines, tree limbs and other overhead safety hazards.
  • The qualified operator should determine when a spotter is required.
  • Personnel working taglines should review the area for slipping, tripping and falling hazards. If it isn’t possible to eliminate them, then take precautions to avoid them.
  • The role of the crane operator is one that must be understood by everyone on the job site. The crane operator is the ultimate authority on all lift decisions and must be a qualified, designated individual trained to operate these delicate pieces of equipment.
  • The cranes themselves must be inspected, although the frequency is based on the manufacturer’s requirements.

Download the recording form here.

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.