Hoisting is used to lift and lower loads using a drum or wheel with ropes or chains wrapped around it. Hoists can be powered manually, electrically, or pneumatically. Hoists effectively move heavy and/or awkward equipment, but they require training and safe work procedures.
To operate a hoist, you must be properly trained. Know the rated capacity of your hoist; it should be clearly labeled on the equipment. Read the manufacturer’s operating instructions and warnings. Get training in how to use the hoist machine and how to properly rig and safely maneuver loads. Perform regular maintenance on the hoist and lifting rope/chain.
Conduct daily hoist inspections using a check sheet for recordkeeping. Guards on moving parts should be in place. Inspect hooks for deformations or cracks. Before lifting a load, test the brake stop, and upper and lower limit switches. Watch that the hoist operates smoothly; grinding sounds or vibrations indicate a problem. All operating switches should be properly labeled. Hook travel should be in the same direction as it is labeled to avoid mistakes.
Check ropes and chains for wear, stretch and twisting. Look for areas that have a thinner diameter, frayed fibers/strands or a “bird-cage” where the fibers/strands are lifted away from the core. Check the rope reeving on the drum and sheave grooves to ensure that it is properly seated. Don’t try to lengthen or repair ropes or chains. If hoist parts or operations don’t pass inspection, place it out of service for repair.
The most common hoisting hazard is electrocution when hoist lines, loads, etc. come into contact with overhead electrical wires. Survey your worksite for electrical hazards before you begin work. Maintain proper distances from electrical lines and de-energize them if you must work near them. Use proximity alarms to warn if your equipment comes too near an energized line.
Improper rigging or over loading capacity can cause loads to suddenly fall. Check load slings for wear and tear before each use. Slings should be labeled with their rating capacity. Calculate your load weight and use the proper amount of rigging and latches to secure the load. Never shock load a sling; it could abruptly fail.
Properly set up your hoist so that it is on stable ground or a secure structure. You may need to use outriggers, cribbing, or other devices for stability. Survey the work area so that the load will not run into obstacles, equipment, or workers. Never exceed the rated load capacity; this could cause the hoist to fail, tip, or collapse. Take into account wind factors that may add stress to the hoist. Use properly rigged tag lines to keep the load stable and straight during movement.
When you start to hoist the load, take up the slack slowly and carefully. Hold the load in action for a moment while you watch for stability and balance. Keep the load centered under the hook. If the load sways or looks unstable, lower it to the start position and reconfigure your rigging. Communicate when you are hoisting so that others in the work area know. Don’t hoist loads over workers or let them ride slings or loads. Hoists can’t be used to support working surfaces.