Working with rigging hardware is arguably one of the most dangerous professions. While the number of severe and fatal injuries involving overhead lifting equipment has been steadily declining, hundreds of accidents are reported every year.

Of these reported incidents, the vast majority are attributed to unsafe hardware installations, setups, or applications. Most of these accidents were caused by a load dropping, swinging, or slipping out of a sling, ultimately landing or crushing a person. When rigging hardware is not used as intended, it can lead to dangerous outcomes.

Thankfully, so many of these incidents can be avoided entirely simply by applying safety rules when installing hardware and using cable rigging products.

Here are 6 tips to follow for safer rigging equipment hardware practices:

1. Double Check Worker Qualifications

Perhaps one of the simplest safety precautions to take is to ensure that all operators are fully qualified for the task at hand. Workers themselves may be unaware of their training limitations or certification expirations. Managers and team leaders must take the time to check on the crane operator and rigging equipment handler’s training and licensing are up to date.

OSHA has set general requirements for crane operators that outline exactly what type of training is necessary for this position. Note that some types of cranes or rigging equipment do require additional training for special applications. All crane operators are also required to renew their licenses every 5 years and a re-certification test may be necessary.

2. Follow Inspection Protocols Thoroughly

Conducting a quick visual inspection of a rigging setup is not enough. Little mistakes can be easily missed, causing a load to fall or move unexpectedly during the lift. Team leaders are responsible for enforcing thorough rigging inspections and ensuring that only qualified personnel handle the job.

Inspectors should take the time to carefully check multiple aspects of all cable rigging products used in a set-up, including:

  • Ensuring that all rigging hardware has been installed and secured correctly
  • Matching the weight load limit of all equipment to the intended load
  • Looking for signs of wear, damage, or corrosion such as rust, warping, or cracks
  • Thoroughly checking that all clips are fully secured to hold cable elements, hitches, and slings in place
3. Prioritize Load Balance

Uneven loads are one of the leading reasons for accidents, as this could cause added tension on the rigging equipment and lead to breaks. According to the latest reports, 64% of accidents related to overhead lifting equipment were caused by a load swinging, dropping, or becoming unstable.

Again, allowing only qualified operators to handle overhead lifting can help to reduce the risk of unstable loads. All personnel involved with installing the rigging hardware or applying the load should be looking for signs of unbalanced weight. This includes checking that the suspension from the sling forms straight lines to the load hook and noting the crane’s center of gravity.

4. Utilize Multiple Load Spotters

A load spotter (also known as a signalperson) is responsible for monitoring during the lift and alerting if the load shows signs of imbalance or slippage. They must have a higher vantage point than the crane operator – and it is beneficial to utilize multiple spotters, especially for heavy lifts.

This position does require specific education. Be sure that all of your signalpersons come completed adequate training and know the proper voice and hand signals to use to communicate any safety issues.

5. Keep Up with Rigging Equipment Maintenance

Poor handling of your equipment will cause it to break, wear down, corrode, and be less useful. Even the most durable pieces of rigging equipment can be damaged if they are installed or stored improperly.

Be sure to follow all of the recommended steps for maintaining industrial rigging hardware:

  • Following a routine inspection schedule
  • Lubricating wire ropes
  • Cleaning hardware properly and drying completely before storing
  • Enforcing proper handling procedures
6. Stick to Using Top-Rated Equipment

Perhaps one of the underlying reasons why so many overhead lifting accidents occur can be linked back to poor hardware quality. Rigging equipment made from cheap metals will wear down faster and may warp or snap more easily.

Be sure to only purchase rigging equipment that meets strict safety ratings and is tested for quality assurance. All of your rigging hardware should clearly state that its safety factors and weight load limits have been tested and certified.

You should also only purchase equipment through a trusted rigging hardware supplier. Check that they have positive reviews and also note any affiliations they have with associations ensuring their product’s quality.

Over to You

Overhead lifting can be dangerous, but by following just a few safety precautions, the process can be much safer. If you are looking for top-quality rigging hardware that you can rely on, look no further than Elite Sales. We offer industry-specific equipment that is tested for quality assurance – and our team is here to answer any questions before placing your order.