Steps to rigging safety

15 April 2008

Using slings with synthetic armor pads, two cranes gently lift and place a 672 ton yacht into the wa

Using slings with synthetic armor pads, two cranes gently lift and place a 672 ton yacht into the water

Planning is the most important element of a safe rigging task. Some rigging projects are very complex, requiring technical engineering and specialty equipment to plan and execute the job. Others are basic lifting or moving operations that are not as complicated. The planning principles for most rigging jobs are the same.

1. Identify the rigging task and define the job

What is the scope and purpose of the job? What are you moving? Where is it going?

Review the following: drawings; the weight of the load; how the load will be moved and transported; the travel route; time considerations; floor requirements; head room, aisles, access and egress and loading docks; equipment requirements; environmental hazards such as heat, rain, ice, snow; and soil and ground conditions. Check for chemical and material hazards, including asbestos, lead, oil and other chemicals, that may be inside or part of the equipment.

In addition, consider the lighting in the work area, overhead obstructions, possible electrical hazards, adjacent machinery and the type of tools that must be used for the project. The work area may limit static electricity, hot work or require special personal protective equipment. Identify requirements for barricading the work area and emergency procedures.

Conduct a job hazard analysis. Select the personal protective equipment and safety equipment needed for the job. Consideration may also require evacuating a building or closing a public or private road. Permits and notification to local authorities need to be included in the schedule and plan.

2. Determine requirements

Review the drawings and information provided by the client. Obtain a copy of the manufacturer's relevant information on the equipment that will be moved. Determine the weight of the load and center of gravity. Select and size the hardware and moving equipment based on the current position of the load, the method of attachment, where it will be relocated and that the supporting structure will support the load. Be sure to review overhead height limitations and the route of travel. Then evaluate the size and weight of the moving equipment. In multi-story buildings, account for the live loading of each floor.

Prepare a diagram of how the rigging hardware will be assembled and identify the size of each component. Complex issues may require a hardware manufacturer's assistance and the services of a rigging engineer.

If the route of travel is difficult, multiple pieces of equipment, properly sized cribbing, dollies, jacks, hoists and cranes may be necessary. The rigging plan must be in compliance with all local, state and federal requirements. Check the project site rigging operation procedures and have the rigging plan approved in writing. Be sure you can complete the job within the time requirements. Make sure the load is decontaminated, de-energized and disconnected.

Develop an emergency plan and a contingency plan. Keep a file that includes all correspondence, diagrams, sizing calculations, a job hazard analysis, contact phone numbers, list of employees, employee training, pre-job inspection, equipment inspection, minutes to any meetings, milestones, schedule, change orders and weather. Keep a daily diary of events to help you remember the times and dates of significant activities.

3. Making the lift or move

Planning and communication will provide your employees with a safe working environment. A meeting shall be held with all employees to schedule, assign and clearly define each employee's responsibilities. Train all employees of their role and the safety requirements in the rigging task. Review and double check the load and sizing calculations, hoisting equipment and supports. Also review the possibility of impact loading, pinch points and a plan to keep employees from passing under the load.

The rigging supervisor must inspect the equipment and hardware before the work begins. That same supervisor must also ensure the area is safe and secure. Then lead and direct the rigging crew. Weather conditions and the possibility of a plant emergency are additional considerations that could change the rigging plan. Again, a good contingency plan is mandatory. Recheck the rigging load and equipment after you begin the lift, and during the course of the move.

The proper rigging plan or guide will provide the information for safe rigging work. It is best to develop a “Rigging Planning Guide” for management to use when estimating and planning a rigging project. act


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