Our systems let us move heavy equipment that weighs up to 1 million pounds, sometimes in hard-to-reach sectors of petrochemical and electric utilities facilities. We’re talking heavy, expensive equipment with not a lot of elbow room to maneuver.
Sometimes, however, we don’t have to bring out the big guns to get the job done. Manual chain hoists (also called hand chain hoists) are ideal for a variety of lifting jobs where the load is five tons or less.
In fact, if you can lift 40 pounds or so, you can use a manual chain hoist to lift several tons. Of course, the weight limit a hoist can handle depends on the model and manufacturer. The quality of the hoist depends on how well it was made and the materials used to make it.
So what are they? An updated version of the ancient pulley, modern hand chain hoists lift (or lower) a load using a drum or lift-wheel with rope or chain wraps attached to a lifting hook. They can also be operated electrically or pneumatically.
Safe Chain Hoist Operation
You can imagine how useful these tools are in an industrial setting. As with any lifting equipment, however, the unsafe or unskilled operation can jeopardize the lift, resulting in damaged equipment, damaged loads and employee downtime.
Successfully completing the lift and the move, as well as ensuring the safety of the work crew, means following some basic do’s and don’ts. At risk of dwelling on the negative, let’s look at some of the “don’ts.”
Here are five things amateur riggers can do to screw up a job by misusing a chain hoist:
- Overload the Hoist. The quickest way to damage your chain hoist and screw up your lift is to miscalculate your load. The hook (which grabs and lifts the load) is rated for a certain payload weight. Modern hoists often come equipped with load limiters for automatic overload protection. If that hook is stretched, you’ve got yourself a doorstop at this point. It won’t be useful for much else.
- Pull the Chain Too Hard. Apply too much force to your chain, and you could stretch the links. You might also cause the chain to pull out of the hoist completely. Keep your grip loose and let the hoist do the work.
- Jerry-rig Your Equipment. Not only will DIY modifications make the manufacturer’s warranty null and void, but you’ll also see what other problems they cause when your load hits the ground. Popping off the latches to make lifting a load “easier” is a bad idea, just to give one example. If you don’t see how shortcuts like this put everyone around you at risk, you may want to consider a new line of work.
- Let the Chain Twist. If the load twists during the lift, it’s because the chain is twisting. This will run the chain into the hoist, which in turn jams the gears. And now you’ve got headaches, so don’t do it.
- Twisting the Hoist. Don’t let the hoist twist or spin when you are lifting your load! When the hoist isn’t directed properly, the load and the hoist could bump into nearby walls or equipment. When you’re rigging equipment that weighs thousands of pounds, the result isn’t going to be pretty. Pull the hoist nice and steady, and don’t let it swing.