When using any kind of lifting equipment, including gantry hoists, safety has to be taken into account as the very act of lifting something to a height causes an inherent danger to anyone underneath.
This is even more apparent on a construction site where the items being lifted are often extremely heavy. A bucket full of bricks could make quite an impression on anything they land on.
The Lifting Equipment Regulations discuss the effective and safe use of equipment at length, however the documents from the HSE are dense and maybe difficult to follow, when all that’s often needed is some common sense.
So, here’s a “common sense” approach to how best to handle the sage use of gantry hoists, or indeed any other lifting equipment.
It’s all about risk
Health and safety often gets a bad rap from the media, but that’s usually because it’s taken out of context and used by people who are really just looking for an excuse to stop something happening.
The fact is, health and safety rules have saved lives, and they’re based on real-life situations. They’re also not designed to hinder the use of equipment or the very act of getting on with the job at hand. They’re simply there to make the job safer for everyone involved.
And so, the first thing any site manager or foreman should do before using any kind of lifting equipment is to assess the risk.
Remember, lifting is inherently dangerous – the point here to ensure it’s as safe as possible and not to take unnecessary risks.
In the case of a gantry hoist, it’s simply matter of deciding whether its use would be the safest way of getting the object into place.
It’s usually best to try not to lift any objects if at all possible. If there’s a safer way of getting a heavy object from A to B without lifting it then that needs to be investigated first.
But if you do need to use a hoist, then consider what is being lifted and whether it’s within its safe tolerances.
Is the equipment fit for purpose and serviced?
It’s not just the hoist itself that needs to be examined, but also everything that it attaches to or is attached to it.
Everything needs to be checked to ensure there are no faults, breakages or anything else that could affect its safe operation.
This is especially the case in busy yards where equipment can often be treated quite badly, getting knocks and scrapes all day and being moved from one area to another.
Remember that if the Health and Safety Executive turn up, they might want to see the paperwork for the equipment being used, so keep maintenance up to date and ensure someone knows where all safety policies are kept.
Are staff competent?
Equipment is often designed to be very easy to use. On a construction site you don’t want to be referring to the manual every half an hour just to find out which lever to pull to make your hoist go up.
But still, it’s not just about the use of the equipment.
Staff will need to know the capacity of the equipment and whether it’s fit for this particular purpose.
This takes training, and usually plenty of experience.
It’s also essential they know about all the safety requirements that should be met in order to ensure nobody in the vicinity is in any danger.
If in doubt – check it out!
Of course, the regulations and advice regarding any lifting in a commercial environment takes up a lot of space on the shelf (for good reason!), and it can seem overwhelming, so if you have any doubt at all, check the HSE’s own website, speak to us, or contact your own company’s safety officer.