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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Five myths about overhead lifting devices

Maralyn Kastel - Thursday, October 03, 2013

A main concern for anyone working around equipment of any kind is machinery safety. As is often the case, there are many mistaken ideas about safety. Here are five very dangerous myths that can prove fatal.

  1. The manufacturer built in safety features to keep me from overloading the lifting device

The fact is there are safety features built into several parts of the overhead lifting device, but not necessarily the whole system.  Besides that, a device may be attached to a building and this doesn't have safety features. Never overload an overhead lifting device.

  1. As long as the piece I'm lifting is well below the device's capacity, I can pull out a piece of steel from an adjoining bay

This is called side-pull and can cause numerous problems. Overhead lifting devices are designed to lift straight up and down only. Side-pulls can cause the wire rope to slip out of its groove and scrub against the pulley, creating a weak spot. Side-pull also creates pressure in points not designed to withstand such forces. This often causes failure within the device or its mounting system.

  1. I need all the height I can get so I have to lift until I hit the upper limit switch

The upper limit switch is a safety device not an operational one. It is designed to keep the hook assembly and the drum from colliding. If the switch fails they will connect most likely causing the rope to fail and the load to drop.

  1. All hoists are built with a secondary brake so I can work safely under a load

The most common braking system actually lowers the load at a "controlled speed" in the event of main brake failure. If you are under the load when it comes down, you will be seriously injured or killed. Never work under a load without proper bracing in place.

  1. The hoist worked yesterday, so it'll work today

Daily inspections are the most overlooked rule in the safe operation of overhead lifting devices. It only takes a minute and can save your life. Remember, parts can fail at any time. Close attention to detail, can uncover a hidden problem before it becomes fatal.

If you stay away from these five common myths you can work safer and with confidence. For more details on safety contact us today.

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