Lifting operations are inherent to many occupations in the construction industry. They can be performed manually or using lifting equipment. Both manual lifting and mechanical lifting operations can put construction workers at great risk of injury or health symptoms causing sick leave or disability.
The costs of accidents and ill health related to lifting operations, are immense. This article describes the risks associated with lifting operations in the construction industry and measures to reduce these risks.
Lifting equipment in construction
Lifting equipment includes any equipment or machinery used at work for lifting or lowering loads or people, including accessories and attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting the equipment. There is a wide range of lifting equipment in the construction industry.
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Typical examples are:
A hoist: is a device used for lifting or lowering a load by means of a drum or lift-wheel around which rope or chain wraps. It may be manually operated, electrically or pneumatically driven and may use chain, fibre or wire rope as its lifting medium.
A crane: is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used to lift and lower heavy materials and to move them horizontally. Different types that can be found in construction are:
- A tower crane: is a balance crane that consist of the same basic parts. Fixed to the ground on a concrete slab, tower cranes offer height and high lifting capacity. The base is then attached to the mast which gives the crane its height. The mast is attached to the slewing unit (gear and motor) that allows the crane to rotate.
- Telescopic crane: has a boom that consists of a number of tubes fitted one inside the other. A powered mechanism extends or retracts the tubes to increase or decrease the total length of the boom. These types of booms are highly adaptable, are often truck mounted and used for short term construction projects.
- A mobile crane: is a cable-controlled crane mounted on crawlers or rubber-tired carriers or a hydraulic-powered crane with a telescoping boom mounted on truck-type carriers or as self-propelled models. They are designed to easily transport to a site and use with different types of load and cargo with little or no setup or assembly.
- All terrain crane: is a mobile, truck mounted crane with the necessary equipment to travel at speed on public roads, and on rough terrain at the job site using all-wheel and crab steering.
- A crawler crane: is a crane mounted on an undercarriage with a set of tracks (also called crawlers) that provide stability and mobility. They need little set-up and can travel with a load but are very heavy and cannot easily be moved from one job site to another.
A power shovel (also stripping shovel or front shovel or electric mining shovel) is a bucket-equipped machine, usually electrically powered, used for digging and loading earth or fragmented rock and for mineral extraction conveyor systems.
A telescopic handler, or telehandler, is a type of crane, with the versatility of a single telescopic boom that can extend forwards and upwards from the vehicle. On the end of the boom several attachments can be fit, such as a bucket, pallet forks, muck grab, or winch.
A fork lift truck is a powered industrial truck with hydraulic lift system and forks to pick up and transport materials.
Lifting equipment for lifting people:
- An aerial work platform, elevating work platform, or mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), is a mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height. There are distinct types of mechanized access platforms and the individual types may also be known as a “cherry picker” or a “scissor lift”. They can be vehicle-mounted, self-propelled or trailer-mounted.
- A passenger lift or passenger hoist or construction elevator is commonly used on large scale construction projects, such as high-rise buildings to transport persons.
Lifting accessories means a component or equipment not attached to the lifting machinery, allowing the load to be held, which is placed between the machinery and the load or on the load itself, or which is intended to constitute an integral part of the load and which is independently placed on the market; slings and their components are also regarded as lifting accessories. These accessories include amongst others chains, ropes, slings, shackles, eyebolts, lifting/runway beams, lifting frames and vacuum lifting devices.
The load includes any material and people (or any combination of these) that is lifted by the lifting equipment. Loads are often provided with permanent or semi-permanent fixed or attached points for lifting. In most cases, these are considered to be part of the load. Examples of loads include:
- loose bulk materials
- sacks, bags, pallets and stillage’s
- discrete items (such as a large concrete block)
- machinery and any permanently attached lifting eyes
- a skip and the lugs fixed to its side.