Building Site Safety When Using Gantry Hoists

Building sites are already dangerous places, but when you start to lift things using hoists and cranes, things become far riskier.
This is why the Health and Safety Executive have a whole range of guidance on the safe operation of all lifting equipment, much of which is backed up by law governing the use of it.
For example, the law states that “all lifting operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a safe manner.”
Those three things are key because potential dangers are easy to overlook on a busy site, but they’re critical to ensure safe working.
With 30 people dying in the construction industry in 2019, it shows that safety needs to be taken seriously and shortcuts should never be taken.

Planning your lifting operation

It may seem pointless sometimes to plan a lifting operation, especially a common or regular one, but in reality, it’s essential that all aspects of the task are taken into account.
Consider a simple calculation – the speed of a falling object.
If a one-ton girder were to fall from five metres, it would take just one second to hit the ground reaching a speed of 22mph.
That would be extremely damaging to objects, and could seriously injure, if not kill, a person.
Therefore, there are several things you should take into account according to the HSE:

Strength of the lifting equipment

Put simply, is your hoist up to the job? Does it’s safe working load take into account accessories, external forces or any other factors that could affect its use?

Positioning

Where you put the hoist has a significant impact on its ability to perform correctly and safely.
Objects vary in size and weight, and you need to take this into account when positioning your equipment.
For example, when lifting wide or long objects such as steels and girders, you need to consider the amount of space around the load and the possibility for movement.
You should also avoid positioning any lifting equipment over working areas or where there is a high amount of traffic.

Supervision

It’s not always necessary to have supervision of every lifting operation; however, every single task should be assessed first.
In the case of the regular and straightforward lifting of standard objects (buckets, equipment etc), as long as the operator has adequate training and experience, then they may not need supervision.
However, if lifting extremely heavy objects, or items that are odd shaped, potentially dangerous or where there’s any doubt about safety, then supervision is required.
How much supervision is needed depends entirely on the item being moved. In the case of very large objects it might be necessary to have multiple “spotters” checking all around the site and object to ensure there are no potentials for collision or danger.

In short…

Although there are laws regarding the safe use of equipment, much of their application comes down to sensible use and operation of all equipment and the management of the risks around it.
If in any doubt at all, always refer to your site H&S operative.