If you were to ask most construction workers their definition of rigging, their answer would probably involve cranes. In fact, rigging goes far beyond the boom of a crane. Rigging is not just limited to moving things around a jobsite; it also involves restraining, suspending, pulling and lifting. Just for a moment think about a theatrical performance that involves actors and actresses being hoisted through the air on stage and some times over the heads of the audience. Or, hooking chain to the axle of a vehicle to pull it from a ditch? Does this involve rigging? The answer to these questions is yes. With this toolbox talk we would like to address the importance of safe rigging and to identify some common safety guidelines to follow when engaged in rigging operations.
Inspection of your rigging apparatus and the component parts are two of the most important steps of a safe rigging operation. Most accidents involving cranes and other rigging operations occur when the load is unexpectedly released. This happens when the rigging cannot support the load and gives way or when the load has not been properly secured. Prior to using slings or any other type of rigging it is critical to know that it is the appropriate rigging for the particular job and that the parts are in good condition. You should always examine your rigging to ensure that:
- Wire ropes are free from any excessive amount of broken wires in each lay.
- Wire ropes are free of kinking, crushing, bird caging or any other damage to the structure.
- Wire ropes are not damaged from heat sources or other corrosive exposures.
- End attachments are not cracked, deformed or excessively worn.
- Chains are free of stretching, bending and kinking.
- Chains do not show obvious damage of rust, nicks, gouges, pitting or corrosion.
- Chain links are not locked and have free movement.
- Nylon and other synthetic type components are free of rips tears and abrasions.
- Hooks have not been excessively opened or twisted beyond the limitations set forth in the OSHA standards.
Accidents involving rigging operations just don’t have to happen. They can be avoided simply by checking your rigging prior to each use and regularly thereafter. Be certain to remove any defective parts from service. You have heard the saying a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and a rope as its weakest kink. Don’t take chances with rigging. Know what can happen and guard against it.
Remember, safe rigging reaches much farther than the end of a crane.