Rigging and hoisting are some of the most dangerous jobs in a construction site. The latest data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) recorded a total of 297 crane-related deaths, or approximately 42 per year between 2011 to 2017. In lifting and rigging procedures, even the smallest mistake can immediately result in serious injuries and fatalities.
Common causes of rigging injuries fall into two categories: equipment failure and unsafe rigging procedures.
When hoists and winches are defective, misused, poorly maintained, or unsuitable for the job, serious accidents can occur. In this article, we highlight common rigging and hoisting hazards to watch out for as well as safety practices every rigger must know.
Many high-risk rigging accidents involve crane contact with overhead power lines. Research shows that electrocutions cause one of every ten construction worker deaths.
When moving materials, a crane's hoist line, safety hooks, or boom may touch a high-voltage power line. While those directly in contact with the crane face the greatest risk of electric shock, anyone in the vicinity is also at risk. With crane-related electrical hazards, a single accident can result in multiple deaths and injuries.
OSHA regulations recommend that rigging and hoisting workers maintain a 10-foot radius from power lines to protect them from electrical shock. Insulated barriers, fences, tape, and other physical indicators must also be set up when working near power lines. Safety gear should always be worn as well to avoid contact with wires and power sources.
Falling materials can hit workers, causing severe injuries and deaths. It can also result in serious structural damage if large objects fall on buildings.
This type of hazard is often due to rigging failure, loose or shifting materials, equipment breakdowns, and improper securing of the load. When the sling, load, or other attachments are incorrectly secured, the load can swing or tip, causing materials to slide off and fall.
Incidents related to falling materials can also be attributed to human error such as when the operator is unfamiliar with proper hoisting protocols or the type of crane being operated. They can also be caused when one or more parts of the lift and/or crane malfunction while a load is being pulled up.
There are several ways to prevent injuries from falling objects. First, use netting and barriers to catch falling objects before they injure anyone. Second, triple-check if loads are secured properly before proceeding with the lift. Lastly, workers should wear hard hats and complete personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
Cranes have weight limits to prevent them from tipping over. If the lifting capacity is exceeded, the boom could collapse, resulting in broken bones, head injuries, or spinal cord damage.
Routine load testing should be performed to ensure that your workers know your crane’s lifting capacity and that they don’t exceed it.
While modern cranes are designed to lift heavier loads, it’s still possible to make an incorrect estimation of a crane’s maximum capacity. To avoid this mistake, ensure that your employees are well-trained on the crane’s load dynamics and lifting capacities.
Many hoisting-related accidents could have been prevented simply by implementing safe rigging practices and procedures, properly training operators, and using proper equipment.
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