Refocus on Safety – Safe Lifting Operations

04 Aug 2020

CIF Safety & Training Executive, John Egan, provides an update on safe lifting in the workplace. 

As part of the CIF’s Refocus on Safety campaign, the focus for week commencing 4th August is “Safe Lifting Operations”.

Michael Norton, Managing Director, Proactive Safety has kindly facilitated a brief video to advise of safe lifting practices; this may be accessed here:

The most common causal factors behind past accidents involving cranes may be attributed to:

  • Failure to undertake a task-specific risk assessment prior to lifting.
  • Lack of implementation of control measures identified in the risk assessment.
  • Absence of an adequate ‘Lift Plan’.
  • Improper rigging methods / equipment.
  • Inadequate maintenance of lifting equipment, including safety devices, lifting gear.
  • Failure to provide a safe exclusion zone beneath lift.
  • Subsidence of ground.
  • Collision with overhead electricity lines.

When planning a lift, there is a need to consider:

  • Site conditions (access and egress, site gradient, load bearing characteristics of the ground, excavations, underground structures, services, overhead electricity or telephone cables, and any other potential hazard specific to the work area).
  • Weather conditions.
  • Margin of safety for lift (may equate to 20-25% crane lift capacity).
  • Size and type of crane, its duties, outrigger settings and loadings, radius for intended work and boom length.
  • Select appropriate load handling equipment including chains, slings, lifting beams, spreaders, lifting eyes etc.
  • Load weight and dimensions, lift points, sharp edges and location before and after lifting operations.
  • Weight of the equipment to be used and impact on the overall weight to be lifted.
  • Determine the method of attaching the load to the crane (i.e. the slinging technique).
  • A full risk assessment to identify any hazards, the associated risks and appropriate controls.

If you are engaging a crane, you must consider the following:

  • A valid safety statement signed by the company management.
  • Insurance details.
  • GA1 certificate for crane (yearly, and at 4-year intervals) and lifting gear (every 6 months).
  • Appropriate training (i.e. valid CSCS) for crane operator and slinger/signaller.
  • Mobilisation document or method statement (signed by crane operator before work commences).

Key roles and responsibilities pertaining to lifting include, but are not limited to:

  1. Crane Operator – shall be physically able to operate crane safely, to judge distance, height and clearances. Individual must be appropriately trained for the type of crane being operated, have sufficient knowledge of the crane, its operational control and safety devices and be fully competent in the slinging and signalling approach used onsite for relaying signals.
  2. Site Management – required to plan the lifting operations, ensure adequate resources are employed, clear communication of work to appropriate persons and oversight of lift.
  3. PSCS – coordinating role to ensure proper planning and supervision of lifts and to ensure that ground conditions and load-bearing characteristics are appropriate for intended work – mindful of the potential for soft, uneven or sloping ground, presence of trenches, services, excavations or poor foundations.
  4. Appointed Persons – responsible for implementing a safe system of work and for ensuring this is clearly communicated to all personnel involved; this includes selection of crane lifting gear, personnel, providing instruction and supervision, and consulting with others as required. The Appointed Person is responsible for access and egress of the crane onsite, for crane set-up, operation, and demobilisation. Typically, the appointed person would prepare a task-specific risk assessment and method statement.
  5. Crane Supervisor – controls the lifting operation in accordance with the method statement. They are the eyes and ears of the Appointed Person and have suitable experience to carry out their duties which includes the authority to stop work if safety could be compromised.
  6. Slinger/Signaller – responsible for attaching/detaching accessories to the load, for the correct use of the accessories and for directing the safe movements of the crane during lifting operations. The signaller is responsible for relaying the signals from the slinger to the crane operator. It is common practice to combine the duties of the slinger and the signaller when the term slinger/signaller is used. The slinger typically checks the weights, selects and inspects appropriate lifting gear, prepares load for lifting, facilitates lift, positions load, loosens load, cleans-up and carefully stores lifting gear for subsequent use.
  7. Banksman – a banksman is not a recognised term in the context of lifting operations, except where guiding a manoeuvring vehicle.

Safe lifting is as much about load preparation as it is about safe load securing and transportation. Fatalities have resulted from the unsafe loading, transportation and unloading of materials and equipment.

In recognition of this, a video recording on Load Securing of Construction Plant and Attachments was filmed for Construction Safety Week 2019 in conjunction with the HSA, Gills Driving School, Coffey Group, Ward & Burke, EPS, Murphy and Glan Agua, which outlines best practice for load securing. This may be viewed here:

Additionally, Michael O’Connor, Group EHS Director, Mercury has shared a video on behavioural safety, which may be viewed here:

Please use the hashtag #CIFSITESAFETY to highlight your safety initiatives on social media and the CIF will endeavour to provide support.

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