Common problems found during lifting gear inspections

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Nobles complete thousands of inspections across all major industries around Australia every year, so we know the common problems our customers encounter with their lifting equipment. Below are the most common problems we find relating to portable lifting equipment, the most common reasons for these problems occurring and tips on how to avoid such problems occurring.

1. ID tags

Every piece of lifting and rigging equipment requires an identification tag of some sort whether it be an ID plate, tag or stamp. This is the most important part of any piece of equipment as it provides vital information such as the manufacturer, serial number, product specs and most importantly the Working Load Limit (WLL).

We have seen a lot of ID tags get damaged or lost simply due to the environment the equipment is being used in. Since this is a factor outside of your control, it is important that you use an ID tag that is going to withstand the working environment. If you are constantly losing your ID tags, you might need to ask yourself if you are following best practice guidelines when conducting your lift or if you should change to a more durable ID tag that won’t be so easily damaged. As soon as an ID tag is unreadable or lost, the piece of equipment is considered damaged and can no longer be used.

2. Synthetic slings

Synthetic slings are one of the most popular pieces of lifting equipment due to their ability provide both flexibility and strength. However, the combination of these two qualities means you must consider the operating environment before choosing a synthetic sling for your lift. We see a lot of slings that have worn stitching, excessive wear and minor cuts. Synthetic slings are highly susceptible to stretch under load if used incorrectly and unlike chain are prone to cuts and abrasions. They are also affected by other environmental factors like excessive UV exposure, chemicals and extreme temperatures can affect the longevity of a synthetic sling.

If you notice any damage to your synthetic sling (cuts, tears, punctures, excessive wear or broken stitching), you need to remove the sling from service immediately. If you work in a greasy environment and clean your sling with chemicals – be wary that synthetic slings are susceptible to chemicals and they can often degrade and affect the quality of the sling.

The best way to keep your synthetic sling in great condition is to store them properly in a cool and dry environment away from sunlight. Keep them free from dirt, grease and moisture as these factors can affect the material overtime. Ensure you only use your synthetic slings in an appropriate environment avoiding excessive temperatures and chemicals. One way to prevent cuts and tears is to use corner protectors or edge guards that provide a barrier between the synthetic sling and the load.

For more information on synthetic slings, check out our previous Smarter Lifting article ‘Synthetic Roundslings – What you need to know’.

3. Chain links

We have inspected chains in a variety of conditions and find that they get treated harsher than other lifting equipment because they are made from steel. Workers think these chains can handle rougher use because of the material they are made from, but the truth is – they are susceptible to damage just like all other lifting equipment.

The most common reason for damage to chain and chain links stems from improper use, e.g. not complying with the chain’s WLL chart. Using a chain incorrectly can cause damage such as cracks, breaks, stretched links or fittings, excessive wear, nicks, gouges and rigid chain links or fittings.

The simplest way to prevent any damage to your chain is to ensure you follow the WLL for the chain, this should be visible on the ID tag. Transporting and storing the chain correctly, e.g. don’t drop or drag the chain, will also ensure the longevity of the chain. To prevent nicks or gouges, you can use wear pads on the corners of the chain to prevent contacts with rough or sharp edges.

4. Wire rope

With thousands of kilometers flying off our shelves every quarter, we have seen almost every problem a customer can have with wire rope. The most common problems we have encountered during an inspection include wire breaks, severe wear, corrosion, wire fractures, deformation and bird caging. If you notice any of these problems in your wire rope, you need to remove it from service immediate.

There are two factors that affect the life of wire rope include the design and installation of equipment and the operating environment. It is important that you pay attention to the design of equipment, this includes sheave size, drum design and drum diameter all affect wire rope. The other factor is the operating environment, avoid using wire rope in corrosive environment as well as excessively high operating temperatures as this can lead to deterioration of the wire rope core and cause rope fatigue.

To help keep your wire rope in compliant working condition, it is important to transport, store and handle it correctly as well as keep it clean of dirt and grease. For more information on wire rope, check out our previous Smarter Lifting article ‘How to get the best performance and lifespan of wire rope’.

5. Below the hook devices

The biggest problem we encounter with below the hook devices is that they have sometimes been handmade or are unmarked. A below the hook device must be designed and manufactured by a competent person and must always be marked and tagged in accordance with Australian Standards. The tag information should at minimum include the manufacturers name, serial number, device weight and WLL. This information is crucial for any operator as they need this information to not only calculate capacity, but if they encounter any problems with the device, they need the manufacturers information for traceability. If your below the hook device is missing part or all of its information, it will be considered faulty and removed from service.

Before you manufacture your own below the hook device, speak to our specialist team of lifting engineers to ensure that your device not only meets the requirements of your lift but also meet Australian Standards.

In conclusion

You should have a reliable inspection schedule in place to ensure that your equipment is always compliant. If you find that your equipment regularly encounters the issues we have mentioned above, check your workplace practices and ensure that you are using the right equipment that is suitable for the task.

If you are unsure, please contact our technical services team on 1300 711 559 or to speak to a specialist who can assist you to ensure your equipment is compliant and safe for your workers.