To prevent serious workplace injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), recommends three steps: plan, provide, and train. In the case of lifting equipment, it helps to pay close attention to details. Doing so will likely prevent serious injury, destruction of property, and possibly accidental death. Workers who know how to properly use lifting equipment, from hook rigging to slings, know to give proper consideration to the lifting gear to be used, the load to be lifted, and the conditions in which the work will be done.
When using web slings, hook rigging, or wire ropes, there is a checklist before the load can be lifted. An inspection by a competent, designated worker of the equipment should be completed. The worker will check the hook rigging, if being used, for chemical damage, cracks, or other deformation. Slings should be checked annually when used under normal service conditions, and monthly for severe service conditions. However, a cursory inspection for abrasions, heat damage, kinking, or signs of wear are in compliance with proper consideration for safety.
Additionally, no sling should be used if its Individual Sling Capacity Tag is missing, as OSHA 1910.184 requires it. The reason why is that the wrong piece of equipment might be used, meaning a sling that is insufficient to lift a heavy load many be mistakenly used. The chances of the sling breaking and dropping the load becomes high. Remember: identify the appropriate equipment to use; properly identify the capacity of the hook rigging or sling; and ensure the equipment is properly inspected before using.
Once the appropriate equipment is chosen and found to be in good working condition, it is time to consider the load to be lifted. What sling angle will it require? Will it need to be side-loaded? It is better to know what is needed beforehand, and not when there is pressure to finish the job quickly.
The last consideration to be taken before the load is lifted is the environment. If working in a temperature controlled warehouse, there is little concern. But for outside jobs, the workers need to take note of the wind, the temperature, and any rain, sleet, or snow. These will effect the working conditions, which could lead to an accident. High winds can change the center of gravity of the load when it is in the air, making it difficult to control. Water in any form can make working conditions slippery.
With proper consideration for the load to be lifted, the conditions it will be lifted in, and the equipment required to safely lift the load, most accidents can be avoided. Safety requires close attention to details, and should be afforded when working with items that could easily crush a worker. When in doubt, do not use worn or insufficient equipment or lift in unfavorable conditions. The safety of workers and property is important.