Working around hoisting equipment can become monotonous, especially with constant repetition. Some work sites are all too focused on the end goal, while the most important goal of all may be forgotten, get everyone home safe.
Equipment breaks – even with diligent inspections, equipment can fail. Motor’s strain, slings fray, weight can be altered, (wet, muddy, icy, etc.), hydraulic pressure can be lost. A useful motto to have while preparing a lift, “expect the unexpected.” If any of the aforementioned devices were to fail, the last place you want to be is directly under the load.
Poor Communication – team work makes the dream work, and the number one ingredient in that saying is communication. Ensure you can have clear communication with the operator at all times. If possible, it is good practice to keep visual contact with the operator during the entire lift. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you!
Maneuvering a load in the air – While it might seem beneficial to push a load into place during a lift, try and refrain from doing so if at all possible. The further you can put yourself from a crush point, the better. Tag lines are a necessity for landing loads accurately and safely. The most common hoisting injury in Canada is from workers and bystanders being struck by a load. Mitigate the risk, use a tag line, or be tagged yourself!
In conclusion, have a plan for a safe lift before you ever touch a sling. Everyone involved with the lift should inspect all the equipment, walk the job site to identify hazards, and understand everyone’s roles in the procedure. Review all appropriate hand signals and communicate clearly, and don’t forget one of the most crucial pieces of equipment, the TAG LINE!