Safety Tips and Advice for using Electric Hoists

Electric hoists provide an effective solution for lifting operations and provides great mechanical advantage ensuring that heavy loads are transported safely. They are widely used as an attachment to gantries and cranes during lifting operations. However, important precautions must always be exercised prior to any lifting operation for compliance with regulations and in the interests of health and safety in the workplace. Take a look at our safety tips and advice below.

safety tips

Electric hoists are extremely popular in most lifting operations

Maintaining electric hoists

  • The first step is to always ensure that the hoist is kept clean. An unclean hoist could have grease and grime on it and can result in slippage of the load.
  • All hoists need to have regular maintenance carried out and must be free from defects.
  • Wire ropes and chains should be regularly lubricated for a hassle free operation.
  • Regular inspection of the hoist is an essential step that involves a daily quick inspection and a thorough inspection every week
  • Maintenance should not be a tick box exercise using cheap parts and cheap labour.
  • Being penny wise, pound foolish can often have serious consequences and result in liabilities worth millions.

Simply regular inspections are not enough. All hoists require annual servicing – that too by a trained and competent professional as per the LOLER 1998 guidelines. The law also requires that upon servicing, the examination date, the next due date for servicing and defects spotted and repaired be recorded. These records must be stored safely by the company that owns the hoist.

Safety when using hoists

While using a hoist, it is essential that all attachments – hooks, slings, etc. are properly secured. This needs to be checked every time before an operation, as negligence can lead to a serious industrial accident. Operators need to ensure that hoists are operated smoothly, avoiding hurried and jerky movements that can cause a potentially hazardous situation. The operation area should be clear of any obstruction during usage. The hoist should be fixed and anchored as per regulations to ensure safety of operation and prevent dislodging.

Overloading the hoist could lead to attachments breaking. Centering the load is important when operating the hoist, in order to prevent the load becoming unstable during operation. The load should be properly secured, and if the supervisor observes that the load is likely to become insecure, the operation should be stopped immediately. Lifting loads overhead when people are present in the area of operation poses a massive risk to life and limb and should be avoided at all costs. Use of the appropriate hoist for each job should be advised by a competent supervisor in the interests of safety at the workplace.  Hoisting should only be performed on static loads and never on loads that are moving or vibrating. This could cause instability during operation. Once the operation is in progress, it is important for it to be completed immediately. Leaving loads suspended in mid-air is an extremely dangerous practice and should always be avoided.

Environment for lifting operations

Work areas should be properly maintained at all times and all lifting operations should never be carried out in an area strewn with debris or rubbish in the interests of safety. Hoists are affected by humidity and will start to rust if stored or operated in moist conditions with high humidity. Signposting is another important factor and work areas where hoists are operated should be well demarcated using visible signs so that all workers and visitors are aware of the risks of entering that area. Pest treatment should be carried out periodically in all work areas, as pests can weaken cables or other attachments by chewing or gnawing through them. Inspection to ensure that such defects are identified well in advance is essential before commencement of any lifting operation.

Transporting a hoist

Hoists can often be transported from one place to another within the same workplace, or to other industrial sites. Strict adherence to health and safety norms is important during moving a hoist. All operations should be completed and no load should be attached to the hoist at the time of moving. If the hoist is attached to a crane or gantry, it must be removed, disassembled and properly stored prior to transportation. All power supplies, including electricity, for electric hoists and air, for air hoists should be cut off when preparing to move the hoist. Hoists are very heavy and may itself require other lifting equipment to load it onto the transporter. Manual lifting of a hoist can be dangerous due to its weight and may cause injuries to workers. A hoist may also have smaller components inside it, so it is essential that due care is exercised when preparing to move the hoist from one location to another.

Compliance with regulatory and legal guidelines

Compliance with regulations are important to the safe use of hoists. Hoists need to be CE marked, and should include a declaration of conformity clearly displayed and written in English. Operations must be compliant with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). It is important that workers follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and all warning labels attached to the hoist and its accessories. Lastly, all workers employed in lifting operations should have prior industry experience and should have a thorough understanding of industry requirements in order to fully implement the guidelines for safe operation.

Do you need advice and safety tips on hoists?

Our experts have been helping clients maintain the safety of their lifting operations for many years. We can advise you on the best way to transport your hoist, or help you maintain safe working procedures when using a hoist. We can even bring you up to speed with regulatory requirements. Whatever you need, our experts are just a phone call away. Call us on 01384 75182 or drop us a line through the contact page on the website. We will be in touch with you right away.


Image Credit: Johny Blaze




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