Monday, December 9, 2019

Train Your Kids in Proper Rigging - Not Like This!

     Pictured here is a load attaching method of hoisting an I-Beam some 250 feet in the air via a Tower Crane on a large industrial job site. The crane operator, about 275 feet away from where the beam is to be landed. He has little input as to  how the load is connected to “his Crane.” Yet, he and his Employer will feel the harmful effects of a dropped load, if someone should get hurt – it will be costly.

     The operations are 100% depending upon this rigger’s decisions; that will be made in a matter of seconds – based on his training and experience! He’s performed this “choker hitch,” a hundred times before (let’s assume) with no failures. The hitch may be the same – but are the working conditions that affect the outcome all the identical?

     What’s so wrong here that I am taking your time to “rail” about anyway? If I were testing someone in an entry-level Rigging 101 course, he would fail. Aside from the obvious of not running the eye through the yellow oblong link that re-duces wire wear and D/d ratio stress on the body of the sling, as the sling Manufacture intended. There is no kinking protection (softeners) between the beam/sling contact points. However, there is a much more important error.

     These experienced Ironworkers know that this thirty-foot, W 14 x 82 beam weighs about 2,460 pounds, (1,230 each end) is not going to break the 3/4" diameter wire rope sling they are using. So, they feel justified in abusing their employer’s equipment; after all, men will be men! So, bothersome soften-ers and sling body wear/stress is “kids stuff” not to slow down production and make this work harder than it is. There is some logic here, and I had witnessed an overuse of personal protection equipment (PPE), making things harder for the workers when no hazards existed, frustrating the people.

     The real “violation” here is the lack of control that could cause the beam to slip and fall from the choker hitch on its 250-foot journey over the heads of numerous workers - not the breaking of the sling. All manners of forces can occur to dislodge the beam along its route. To name a few; excessive swing speed, sudden starts/stops, beam caught on the obstacle, weather conditions, or setting one end down and releasing the “bite” allowing the beam to slip and fall. A bundle of metal studs from a single wrap choker hitch like this, occurred at a hotel under construction at Disney, killing one.

Corrected: Double Wrap, Softeners, and a Shackle in the “bite.”
     Simply a “double” wrap choker hitch would have provided all the necessary control, yes, a little more annoying for the riggers – but so much safer. A bad meth-od is a bad method no matter how many times you get away with it! And, it’s a terrible OJT example for the kids. These experienced riggers may have “fallen prey” to complacency.

     The camera is everywhere nowadays, catching us in the “act” as it were. Companies slogans like “Safety First, If you can’t do it right, don’t do it,” etc. will not stop an unsafe act, skills training helps. We ask ourselves why people take “short-cuts” why don’t people do it right all the time – oh yes, people were never made perfect!

As printed in the August 2018 issue of Wire Rope News and Sling Technology.

Dennis can be emailed at

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