Damaged and Faulty Lifting Equipment – What to Look Out For
Pre-use inspection is essential, especially where rigging gear is involved.
There are a lot of standards and documents that reference lifting equipment, as below:
- OSHA 1910.184 – Slings
- ASME B30.9 – Slings
- ASME B30.26 – Rigging Hardware
- ASME B30.10 – Hooks
- ASME B30.20 – Below-the-Hook Lifting Devices
ASME B30.20 and ASME BTH-1 standards are recognized in the United States as the go-to industry standards. ASME B30.9, meanwhile, also includes provisions that apply to the fabrication, attachment, use, inspection, testing, and maintenance of slings used for load handling purposes.
It is necessary to get to know all of these documents if you’re going to be involved with lifting products. However, it is important that our motivation to inspect our lifting gear isn’t simply to adhere to standards and avoid a fine. In fact, in many instances and applications, it is crucial that users go beyond legislation due to the demands their work places on cranes, hoists, rigging equipment, and other products.
This hook has several issues, including a crack in the neck of the hook.
Have a think about the equipment you use every day. How often do you give it a visual inspection to check there are no defects? Every day? Once a week? Occasionally? Never? The answer should be, before every use. Even minor damages can lead to a sling being inefficient. Tests have been conducted that show how a sling rated for, say, 1 ton, is compromised by certain damage and actually breaks when much less force is applied.
Rigging equipment is hugely important because cranes and hooks rarely make direct contact with the load; there is nearly always a shackle, sling, beam, or combination thereof in between. Did you know that an item should be withdrawn from service if a problem is found and it may need to be discarded permanently?
This modified machinery eyebolt was found during an inspection. Someone had welded two threaded bolts to the eyebolt, which of course ruined the heat treat and the working load limit (WLL) is no longer predictable.
Wire rope slings
Wire rope, which is commonly used to manufacture slings, is a consumable item, meaning it wears and expires. Environment, bending, stresses, shock loading, abrasion and mechanical damage are just a few things that impact the life of wire rope slings. A competent person will be able to examine and detect issues that compromise the integrity of the sling during a thorough visual inspection. A keen eye will spot a reduction in outer wire diameter, shiny areas that indicate wear, broken wires, distortion (sometimes called bird-caging), and missing or broken hooks, latches, etc.
Roundslings are a useful rigging tool because they support the load with a soft, flexible contact surface that limits damage to the load. Many users also like them because they are lightweight and easily stored. But for all the positives and widespread use, synthetic roundslings are susceptible to damage by cutting or abrasion, especially when they come into contact with sharp edges or surfaces. In your visual inspection, look out for tears or cuts, distorted fittings, burns, damaged yarn, chemical damage, and welding damage especially.
- TOP TIP: It is possible to prolong the life of a synthetic sling. In fact, slings should always be protected from cutting and damage. Remember, the edge of the load does not have to be extremely sharp to cut or damage a sling, especially if the load moves and slips against the sling. Protection materials must be selected based on the application. The goal is to ensure that the sling securely lifts the load while avoiding contact with damaging surfaces under tension. But it remains a specialist marketplace: it is never a case of reaching for nearby cardboard or clothing to protect the sling.
Chain is a popular rigging tool too, but it isn’t bulletproof either. Here, look at the shape of the master link, checking for twisting and distortion in other directions. Also inspect the integrity of the components coupling the chain to the master link. Ask yourself: what condition is the chain in? Modern chain wears well but not if it is misused. Think about the chain shorting device or chain clutch too. Finally, check out the lower terminal fittings. These are usually a type of hook but can also be links. Hooks can be distorted at below their working load limit if they are loaded on the tip instead of in the bowl.
Removal from service
Whenever an item doesn’t pass an inspection, and for whatever reason, it must be disposed of or marked and placed somewhere so it isn’t used by mistake. Think about a busy jobsite; how will someone know if a sling that has been left on the floor has been inspected, passed fit for use, or removed from service? Marking the piece of equipment with a non-removable tag and having a designated disposal area is a good idea. Lifting equipment experts can then be called in to decide if repair or replacement is necessary.
During an in-the-field inspection, it was apparent that this non-shouldered eyebolt was being angularly loaded. If you apply an angular load to an eyebolt it must have a shoulder.
Even if an item passes a visual inspection, it is still important to follow the standards and protocols about periodic inspection. Again, check the standards.
Remember your pre-use inspections next time you go to work.