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Safety: 108 questions for safer lifts PDF Print E-mail
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Issue Archives - March-April 2010 issue


Planning repetitive or one-of-a-kind lifts? Ask these questions to help assure safety.

Lifting construction materials safely takes by-the-book planning and execution. The Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York, builds and maintains facilities for government departments, universities and industrial facilities that require highly repetitive as well as one-of-a-kind lifts. This work has led it to develop a 108-question exercise that helps identify lift challenges before the first piece is rigged for a pick. Brookhaven lift professionals emphasize this questionnaire is not all-inclusive; it is up to the project engineer or manager and the lift safety committee to assure all facets of the lift are considered and executed. They must also all agree to any lift plan changes before lifts take place.

Questions needing answers

Subsurface and foundation:
What is the maximum weight of the crane and load and can the surface safely support those loads?
Has a soil investigation been performed?
What is the assumed load distribution through the timber mats?
Could the lift weight affect any underground structures?

Transportation and storage:
Has the site manager planned for material delivery?
Are permits required to move the loads?
How will the load be stored safely on the site before installation?
Has the route to the site been checked for overhead obstructions?
Can bridges, culverts, and other underground structures in the delivery path support the loads?

Crane positioning and use:
Where will the crane be assembled?
How will it move the load from storage to the installation site?
What is the minimum actual clearance between the load and the boom during the lift?
Has the radius been double-checked by actual in-field measurements?
Will the crane load change as the lift progresses?
How many parts of line are needed?
Will spreaders and other rigging hardware remain safely clear of the boom, the load, and other objects during the lift?
How was this determined?
If the crane walks the load, can the path support the load?
Have lift and swing path obstructions been identified in the lift plan?
Can outriggers be deployed correctly?
Can riggers safely control the load throughout the lift?
How will crane stability be monitored during the lift?
How will load line position (plumb in two directions) be monitored?
Does an engineering drawing show crane elevation and all clearances throughout the lift?
Has the crane’s tail swing been considered and will it be monitored during lifts?

Crane repair, modifications and upkeep:
Do all crane repairs or modifications meet manufacturer’s written instructions?

Are they certified?
Are safety alarms and interlocks checked for operation/ accuracy?
Have required nondestructive examination (NDE) of crane components been completed/ documented?
Is the lift line new or a piece of the line pull-tested?
Does the crane load chart in the cab match the current lift?
Does the headroom maintain the minimum allowable two-block distance for the reeve configuration used

Load weight and center of gravity:
How was the load weight determined?
Has a margin been added to calculated weights?
Does the actual load weight match the calculated weight?
How was this performed?
Was the weight of any jib, auxiliary boom head or additional rigging considered in the calculations?
Who determined the center of gravity and how was it determined?
Is the center of gravity marked on the load and is it only on the lift drawings?
Can any internal component shift during the lift?
Has snow or ice accumulated on the load since weight was determined?
Can the load’s surface area create control problems in windy conditions?
Has all hydro-test water been drained from the load (vessel) before lifting?
Has any insulation on the load absorbed moisture?
If the load is being removed or demolished, have all anchors/ fasteners been removed?

Will rigging be working within its safe working load?
Are sling angles greater than 45 degrees?
If so, can rigging handle the increased loads?
Is rigging protected from sharp load corners?
Does the rigging positively prevent load slipping or shifting?
Are shackles and hooks positioned to avoid side-bending?
Have qualified personnel designed and tested special rigging hardware in accordance with regulations?
How will lifting tackle be removed once the load is in place?
Will a pin extractor be needed?
Has rigging been inspected for wear or damage?
Will slings be pull-tested?
Are the shackle pins and lifting eyes compatibly sized?
Does the rigging position the crane hook directly over the load’s center of gravity?

Chain of command:
Who is the person in charge of the lift?
Is he or she qualified for the job?
Who will signal the crane operator?
Has the appropriate department/ safety personnel been involved with developing and reviewing the lift plan?
Are the crane operator, riggers and others completing the lift familiar with the lift plan?
Are nearby supervisors and workers aware of the lift and its plan?
What is the chain of command for the lift and how are they identified?
Has a final pre-lift safety meeting been scheduled?
Are there any language difficulties/barriers?

Weather considerations:
What is the maximum allowable wind speed for the lift?
How/where will wind speed be measured?
Will crane or other component capacity need to be derated due to low temperatures?
Will that de-ration affect load capacity for the lift?
Is auxiliary lighting available if the lift goes past daylight hours?
Are required personnel available if the lift extends beyond normal work hours?
If overhead power lines are in the lift zone, have minimum clearance requirements been established?
If operating near overhead power lines, are nonconductive taglines being used?
Is there a dedicated signal person to monitor the boom, load and/or load line position relative to power lines?

Accident preparedness:
Are adjacent departments/divisions and local security and rescue services aware of the lifts?
Are any notifications required or mandated?
Is there an agreed-upon plan of action if an operational alarm occurs during the lift?
Have the lift steps been reviewed before the lift?
Are safety barriers and safety plan in place?
Has an evacuation plan been developed and communicated?
Have emergency plans been communicated and understood by operating personnel?
Do operating personnel understand how to isolate toxic or flammable material lines?
Are important valves identified?

Load knowledge:
Does the load need additional framing or attachment points to prevent damage?
Is the framing designed by a competent engineer, and inspected and loadtested?
Are any nondestructive tests needed to assess weld quality of lifting lugs, pad eyes, or other connecting points?
Do the lifting lugs/pad eyes match the shackle?
Can the shackle turn as the load goes from horizontal to vertical?
Have impact factors been used in designing the lifting lugs, shackles, or other components?
Is there enough clearance to get the nut on the shackle pin?
Who will inspect the lifting attachments, and what must be inspected?
Has the load and tower design been analyzed for localized buckling and bending shear stress, based on loads?
If trays or internal components are installed before the lift, has load shift been considered?
Are lifting components designed to ASME B30.20 below-the-hook lifting devices specifications?
(Show calculations.) Are lifting lugs designed about the weak axis using a force equal to a minimum of 5 percent of the force of the sling?
(Show calculations.) Who designed the lifting lugs/ trunnions?
Who is responsible for double-checking the design?

Lift communications:
If radios are required, who will provide them?
Can they be safely used on the site?
Has the communication plan for the lift been completed?
For example, which radio channel will be used?
If anchors are involved, has the pattern been checked to confirm the load can be landed properly?
Are critical crane spare parts available during the lift?
Are mechanics or crane maintenance personnel available during the lift?
Has the operator(s) undergone a drug test?
Is a back-up operator available in case of emergency?




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