When it comes to rigging loads in construction, you really don’t want to mess around. Your safety and the safety of your coworkers is at stake.
We have compiled a list of some common problems that you may encounter in rigging loads and what you can do to make sure everyone is safe and loads are not damaged.
1. Crushing, Pinching, & Crashing
Some of the most serious dangers on a construction site are related to crushing and pinching hazards.
Many of these hazards can be limited significantly with the use of taglines. Taglines should be free of knots. You should not be making direct contact with a load above your waist level.
Nobody should attempt to secure a load by hand until it is completely set down.
A Few Ways To Avoid Crashing And Pinching:
- Use Taglines Whenever Possible
- Keep Taglines Free Of Knots & Tangling
- Make Sure That Rigging Is Seated Properly
- Do Not Make Direct Contact With A Load Above Waist Line
- Only Adjust Loads By Hand Once They Are Set Down Completely
2. Stretched, Bent, Damaged Chain Links
Damaged chain links are another serious rigging hazard. In addition to checking the Working Load Limit of a chain, link by link inspections should be conducted frequently.
Things To Look Out For In Link By Link Inspections:
- Proper WLL
- Heat Damage
- Bends In Links
- Friction Damage
3. Apathetic Inspectors
For inspections to be effective, the people inspecting job sites need to care. Inspectors who are burnt out, in a hurry to get a job done, or inexperienced can put workers in grave danger.
Ways To Increase The Quality Of Inspections:
- Provide Frequent Training
- Do Wellness Checks With Inspectors
- Make Sure All Riggers Are Trained Above Industry Standards
- Provide Visual References Around Job Sites (Flyers, Posters, Signs)
4. Unclear Weight Loads
Aside from being straight up illegal, working with weight loads that have not been carefully calculated are dangerous.
Weight loads need to factor in every single piece of rigging gear used, including lifting slings, beams, shackles, and hook blocks.
Usually the weight load will be labeled right on the device. This is an industry standard and makes your life easy. However, if the device is not labeled correctly, there are some other places you can check to get the information you need.
Where To Find Weight Load Information:
- Shipping Paperwork
- Manufacturers’ Specs
- Design Plans And Printed Materials
5. The Wrong Slings, Bad Slings, Unfit Sling Capacities, Unprotected Slings
Getting the right slings, using the right slings, protecting slings, and replacing slings as needed are all extremely important measures in a rigging process.
The first rule for slings is that ALL SLINGS HAVE TO BE LABELED with the Working Load Limit. Any sling that is missing this label must be taken out of service. This is non-negotiable.
It is extremely important to use extra strong slings for flat angle rigging applications.
Slings made from nylon, polyester, or similar materials are common in rigging for good reasons. They are non-abrasive, lightweight, and incredibly strong. These materials do have limits though; they are sensitive to heat and friction and susceptible to cutting. All synthetic slings need to have protection for their corners and edges.
Some Tips For Slings:
- All Slings Must Be Labelled With A WLL
- Do Not Clean Grease From Slings With Solvents
- Use Extra Strong Slings For Any Flat Angle Rigging
- Synthetic Slings Should Include Additional Protection
6. Bad Morale
People who are overworked and feel underappreciated are less likely to do good work. That is no secret. That is especially a big deal when safety is such a big concern on a jobsite.
It is not uncommon for workers in construction to get asked to do a lot of overtime work, especially when building projects are running behind. Getting paid overtime rates is great, but in the long run burnout inevitably will set in.
From an employee perspective, it is important to set boundaries with your company and make sure that you are achieving work-life balance. From an employer perspective, it is equally important to make sure that everyone on the job is getting enough rest time and people are pulling their weight equally.
7. Foreign Made Gear
OSHA standards often dictate that some rigging equipment needs to be made in the United States or Canada. These regulations are particularly stringent for shackles.
This is because the 5:1 safety standards are strictly observed in the United States and most other countries do not regulate up to American standards.
Outside contractors sometimes may not observe these standards closely. It is not uncommon for a job to be put on hold if a more diligent worker discovers a Chinese made shackle being used on site.
Typically this will lead to all gear on a site being re-inspected and work not continuing until every shackle that is not clearly labelled as being American or Canadian made is replaced.
8. Mismanaging Structural Stability
The Structural Stability of a load is determined by many different variants, from weather conditions, to attachment points for hitches, and the weight of a load. This is another area where taglines will help prevent hazards.
Tips For Properly Managing Structural Stability:
- Use Taglines
- Be Cautious Of Heavy Winds
- Be Mindful Of Containers That Are Partially Full
- Hitch Loads At The Most Secure Spot On The Load Body
9. Poorly Serviced Cranes
Just like any other vehicle, cranes need maintenance done. However, they also are much more complex than cars or a pickup truck.
In addition to Pre-Operational Hoisting Inspections, more thorough inspections should be performed with some regularity.
Poorly serviced cranes can make jobs harder, less efficient, and sometimes less safe.
Areas That Should Be Inspected Often:
- Speed Controls
- Emergency Switches
10. Damaged Hardware, Homemade Gear, Modified Gear, General Jerry Rigging
It is super frustrating when gear needs to be replaced, especially before its expected shelf life. Gear can get damaged in the middle of a rigging job pretty easily.
Eye-bolts get bent, chains get deformed, things just don’t work out. It can be tempting to come up with home made, jerry rigged solutions. Modified hoist rings can be found on jobs way more than they should be.
It is especially important to avoid “below the hook” gear modifications that are common violations, but particularly dangerous.
How To Make It Happen
The key to making your life easier and safer in rigging comes with prevention, preparation, and clear communication.
Before a lift is performed, a Pre-Lift Meeting should occur. During this meeting, hand signals should be reviewed to make sure everyone is clear on what each signal means. The general plan should be discussed, as well as potential hazards around the job. Any concerns should be addressed and safety guidelines should also be reviewed.
By putting in those few minutes before a job to communicate between crew members, the likelihood of most common errors being made can decrease significantly!