Overhead cranes and hoists can be very dangerous when on the job site, and it's vital that any crew manager or contractor understand how to operate them as safely as possible. Telling your crew to stay clear of an overhead hoist is not the only step you need to take to keep everyone safe. Consider some additional safety tips you'll need to remember if your facility operates overhead cranes.

1. Have regular heavy load testing done

The rated load refers to the amount of weight your crane or hoist is able to hold, and it's good to have your equipment tested with heavy loads. This might be 80% to 100% of that rated load. Your hoist should be filled with a heavy load and then inspected to note if any parts seem worn or if it seems to lag during lift. This can tell you if it needs maintenance or repairs and will ensure its safe operation.

2. Always note the rated load and lift below this amount

If heavy load lifting is 80% of your crane's rated load, you want to ensure you never lift above this amount and try to load your hoist or crane with a much lighter load when possible. This will keep it from excessive wear and tear. The heavier the load and the closer it is to the hoist's rated load, the more maintenance and repair your crane will need and the greater the risk of having it break during a lift.

3. Have regular severe load testing done

Severe load testing refers to lifting in nonstandard environments. This might include severe weather, when the crane or hoist is exposed to dust or fumes, or in extremely hot or cold temperatures. There are companies (such as WA Fink & Son Pty Ltd) who can perform this test for any crane or hoist and it's good to have this done regularly throughout the year, but even more so if the crane or hoist will be exposed to such factors. This testing can ensure the chain is thick enough so that it won't crack in extreme temperatures and that other components won't freeze up when exposed to dust and contaminants, keeping the crane operating safely.

4. Use proper techniques for shifting directions

One common safety hazard with overhead cranes and hoists is when shifting the load to one direction or the other. It's vital that a load be completely lifted vertically before direction is changed; this is the only way to ensure that there is nothing clinging to the bottom of the load and that it will easily clear any obstructions. Ensure that this is done with each and every load and that an operator doesn't start swinging the crane or hoist or moving the load before it's properly elevated.