Industry news — Why Lifting Equipment Breaks

Why Lifting Equipment Breaks

Lifting operations are inherent to this industry however both manual lifting and mechanical lifting operations can put workers at great risk of injury or death. This article captures 7 key risks associated with lifting operations and solutions to reduce these risks and costs associated.



Risk assessments and lift plans are designed to reduce the risks associated with each lift and in most cases a lift plan has not been completed, or it has not been amended for non-routine lifts.


    Plan! A lift plan should routinely be followed for every lift. The plan must be amended when a non-routine lift is due to take place.


    A pre-assembled roof structure needed to be lifted into place. A lift plan was completed based on lifting each section at a time. However, a decision was made on the day to bolt sections of the roof together to save time and the lift plan was not amended. The crane could have been easily overloaded or operated outside of its radius or the lifting gear could have failed.



Competency isn’t achieved through simply working around equipment for a long time. It’s also bad practice to take advice from others who might have never been trained properly themselves.


    Train your staff. Weed cultural assumptions out which starts by everyone respecting and understanding proper and safe use of equipment.


    An employee joined a company and was asked to move a piece of pipework. In his interview he indicated he had worked alongside a rigger for many years and used lifting equipment all the time. During the lift, the load failed and injured a worker below. SafeWork NSW investigated and neither the worker nor company could prove competency according to the standards.



Poor equipment selection often stems from people using what is available, not what is best suited to the task. It is also common for people to not pay attention to the working load limit (WLL) of the equipment they are using.


    Product training is key. Understand the equipment and select it wisely. Wider availability is necessary on most sites as well. Refer to the manufacturer or supplier


    An 11-tonne load needed to be lifted. The worker had two 10mm, twolegged chain slings available that had a WLL of 5.5t and used them lift 11t. He thought that by using two 5.5t slings he could double the working load. It is easy to do, especially when people think that they know what they are doing and don’t want advice from others



Loads come in all shapes, sizes and weights. Never guess how much a load weighs. Various factors go into the weight of a load and even if it is known, centre of gravity can lead to overload scenarios.


    Plan! Ask a supervisor or third party to review the lift and equipment selection. Refer to an industry professional or the manufacturer for product advice.


    A transformer needed to be moved on a busy construction site. The crane operator knew the weight of the transformer and assumed it was a straightforward lift however he failed to notice that it was bolted to the ground. As he attempted to lift the load the crane toppled and the worker narrowly avoided injury.



Shock loading usually stems from rushing, carelessness and a lack of knowledge. Understanding stability and centre of gravity are key, as is consideration of the lift path and journey of travel.


    Slow down, take your time and don’t rush your lifts. Eliminate the chance of surprise by limiting
    or removing the risks.


    A 10t electric EOT crane was rigged with a 10t spreader beam and was being used to lift a 8t box. The box contained a heavy steel component that was supposedly fixed to the bottom of the box. It wasn’t and as
    the load was lifted the component shifted and left the load hanging on one end, causing a second shock
    load that led to the load falling to the floor.



Even if you have recently used a product, it is important to look at it again quickly before reusing it. A visual inspection is often the easiest and fastest ways to avoid injury and damage when lifting or moving heavy objects.


    Always complete a pre-use equipment inspection. If you are not sure what
    to look for, ask a professional. If in doubt, discard it and get it checked.


    A concrete clutch was used to transport goods around site by a pick-andcarry crane and due to the bouncy movement of the ride across site it formed a stress fracture in the knuckle. A quick pre-inspection identified
    the issue and the item was put in the out-of-service bin on site.



Even when training and planning has taken place, safety comes down to the user making the right decisions on the day. In the end the responsibility to make sure that every lift is safe falls to the individual.


    Don’t rush. Take your time and stop to think. Always check your gear for each and every lift. If in doubt,
    stop, reassess, or ask for help.


    A worker was asked to move metal plates from one location to another. It was the last lift on a Friday
    afternoon. Rushing to clock-off as quickly as possible, the employee did not lock off the arm on the magnetic lifter correctly and was not careful to ensure his feet were not positioned under the load. The load gave way,
    the plate landed on his feet and he lost his toes.