Moving large, heavy loads is crucial to today’s Marine Construction industries. Much technology has been developed for these operations, including careful training and extensive workplace precautions. There are significant safety issues to be considered, both for the operators of the diverse “lifting” devices and for workers in proximity to them. This page is a starting point for finding information about these devices and their operation.
The mishandling and misuse of slings are the leading causes of “working over water” accidents involving their use. The majority of injuries and accidents, however, can be avoided by becoming familiar with the essentials of proper sling care and usage.
Proper care and usage are essential for maximum service and safety. Slings must be protected from sharp bends and cutting edges by means of cover saddles, burlap padding, or wood blocking, as well as from unsafe lifting procedures such as overloading.
Before making a lift, check to be certain that the sling is properly secured around the load and that the weight and balance of the load have been accurately determined. If the load is on the ground, do not allow the load to drag along the ground. This could damage the sling. If the load is already resting on the sling, ensure that there is no sling damage prior to making the lift.
Next, position the hook directly over the load and seat the sling squarely within the hook bowl. This gives the operator maximum lifting efficiency without bending the hook or overstressing the sling.
Wire rope slings are also subject to damage resulting from contact with sharp edges of the loads being lifted. These edges can be blocked or padded to minimize damage to the sling.
After the sling is properly attached to the load, there are a number of good lifting techniques that are common to all slings:
- Make sure that the load is not lagged, clamped, or bolted to the floor.
- Guard against shock loading by taking up the slack in the sling slowly. Apply power cautiously so as to prevent jerking at the beginning of the lift, and accelerate or decelerate slowly.
- Check the tension on the sling. Raise the load a few inches, stop, and check for proper balance and that all items are clear of the path of travel. Never allow anyone to ride on the hood or load.
- Keep all personnel clear while the load is being raised, moved, or lowered. Crane or hoist operators should watch the load at all times when it is in motion.
- Finally, obey the following “nevers:”
- Never allow more than one person to control a lift or give signals to a crane or hoist operator except to warn of a hazardous situation.
- Never raise the load more than necessary.
- Never leave the load suspended in the air.
- Never work under a suspended load or allow anyone else to.
Once the lift has been completed, clean the sling, check it for damage, and store it in a clean, dry airy place. It is best to hang it on a rack or wall.
Remember, damaged slings cannot lift as much as new or well-cared for older slings. Safe and proper use and storage of slings will increase their service life.