Whether you work with forklift trucks, cranes or hoists, using lifting equipment is an everyday task in the construction industry. If you’re not using it safely though, the consequences can be severe.
Why is it important to take safety precautions when using lifting equipment?
The very reason you’re using lifting equipment could present a grave risk to you: the loads you’re lifting are heavy enough to require extra help. If you get stuck between equipment like a telehandler or a vehicle lift and a wall or floor, you can suffer life-changing or even fatal injuries. You should also be cautious around moving parts on smaller machines, taking care that your limbs, digits and hair stay clear of them.
Even tools such as winches or pulleys can cause severe injuries if somebody on a site loses control of them. All kinds of equipment can cause blunt trauma injuries, cuts and abrasions. There’s also the potential for machine parts and equipment to become dangerously hot, while emissions can also be harmful.
No matter what kind of equipment you’re using, regular checks and maintenance are a must. Otherwise they can become unreliable or even fail, resulting in loads falling.
Six precautions to take when using lifting equipment
If you hold an up-to-date LOLER certificate for a piece of lifting equipment, it’ll have been checked for safety. However, there’s no room for complacency and you must always be mindful of your personal safety on site.
So what precautions should you take when lifting heavy loads? Here are six ways to keep you safer when using lifting equipment.
Always check equipment before use
Lifting equipment safety checks save lives – and livelihoods. If you’re in any doubt about how to check, consult the equipment’s operating and maintenance manual. As a general rule though, you should ensure the equipment isn’t missing any parts and is free of defects.
You can also use a safety inspection checklist for vital features, where any deterioration in condition would cause a risk.
Keep up to date with safety training
It’s absolutely vital that everybody on site is up to date with their safety training needs. As well as ongoing training for lifting safety, workers must also receive specific training for any new equipment introduced.
Ensure lifting loads are within limit
Not overloading equipment may sound like an obvious tip, but it can be easy to select the wrong equipment or overload it when you’re in a hurry. The weight must also be distributed evenly, with the equipment placed on a level, sturdy surface, where appropriate.
Prevent access to dangerous areas
Wherever possible, fixed guards should be used to enclose dangerous parts on machinery. Trip systems can also provide protection, as can interlocking a guard so that machinery cannot be accessed while it’s still moving. When guards can’t offer full protection from risks, holders, jigs and push sticks are a good idea.
Never stand under a load
As obvious as this sounds, it’s surprisingly common for construction site workers to get themselves under a load, particularly when trying to solve an issue with the load. People should remember to always keep a safe distance from the load, protecting themselves in the event of human error or equipment failure.
Perform regular inspections and maintenance
No matter how busy your schedule, you should always make time for checks on equipment and upkeep. If you build maintenance into your company’s routine, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of having an accident.
For instance, there’s no substitute for regular scaffolding inspections. Workers rely upon scaffolding to hold their weight while they undertake complex tasks. If scaffolding fails, the consequences can affect multiple workers. Inspecting scaffolding when it’s not in use almost completely removes this risk.
Detailed inspections of equipment should take place at least every 12 months – or every 6 months for equipment that holds people.
If you use our lifting equipment hire services, you can be sure that the equipment you’re working with has been regularly inspected and is well maintained. However, safety precautions when using lifting equipment should still be followed so that they become habitual.