Lifting Equipment


This is the fifth post in a series of 25. Each post will be dealing with a shipboard work related issue and how to cope with it. Previous articles in the series has been about:

  1. Safe Manual Handling
  2. Preventing Slip, Trips and falls
  3. Toolbox Talks
  4. Lifting Operations



The lifting equipment is a crucial part of the lifting operation and has to identified, organized and well maintained. A vessel may have 30 different types of lifting equipment and these can range from the main vessel cranes to winches, runway beams, pas eyes, lifting bags all the way down to small pieces of lifting equipment like Tirfors, chain lever hoists and so on. Lifting equipment may be vary specialised, such as heavy lift cranes.

There are also life-saving  appliances, diving systems and onshore lifting equipment systems. Each type of equipment requires specific operating practices and procedures.


What is the problem?

A lifting operation that is not planned, risk assessed and controlled, poses a bigger threat to the involved personnel, since many times the loads are heavy and a malfunction in any of the lifting equipment could lead to catastrophic results.


How can we control the lifting equipment?

All lifting equipment should be maintained in an efficient state, in safe, effective working order and in good condition though a planned maintenance system.

There should be a process provided for:

  • ensuring work equipment is adequately maintained at appropriate intervals;
  • ensuring work equipment maintenance logs are kept up to date;
  • ensuring work equipment maintenance frequencies are recorded and the internal audit process utilised to monitor this.

Lifting equipment begins to deteriorate from its first use, most especially in offshore operating conditions. Inventories usually consist of equipment that has been in use for several years. A system should be developed to identify equipment whose life expectancy is nearing its end in order to overhaul it or withdraw it from service. The aim is to reduce the instances of defective or worn out equipment before it becomes a risk.

Where maintenance intervals are set for lifting equipment, according to manufacturer’s recommendations or by risk assessment, these intervals should be adhered to. If equipment is due for mobilisation and a planned maintenance routine is expected within that time, the equipment should be subject to planned maintenance prior to mobilisation or arrangements made for that maintenance to be conducted during its in-service period.


What to check before lifting takes place?

In the table below, it is stated what check that should be carried on Wire Ropes, Shackles, hooks and fibre slings before they are used in a lifting operation.

A general rule applying to all lifting equipment is:

All lifting equipment should have appropriate certification!


Checks on Wire Ropes used for Lifting and Associated Equipment


Are wire ropes checked for damage prior to use, or after any incident which could have damaged the rope or installation?


Have you noted where the expected areas of wear would be on the wire ropes in use, e.g. where rope passes through sheaves, over rollers, is subject to any impacts or is particularly exposed when stowed?


Are there any signs of deterioration in the wire, e.g. broken strands, distortion, corrosion, lack of lubrication?


Have you checked the diameter of the wire against its size when new?


Is the wire rope properly lubricated, clean from debris etc?


Is it possible to inspect the inner core of the wire?


If it is not possible/practical to manually inspect the inner part of the rope, when was it last tested by other means, e.g. non-destructive testing?


If a section of the rope has been subject to destructive testing, what were the results?


Is the wire properly coiled on to its drum?


Is the drum in good condition, e.g. if it is grooved, are the grooves undamaged and do they match the wire size?


Is sufficient wire rope coiled around the drum at the limit of rope pay out?


Do the limit switches and crane/winch controls operate properly?


Are all sheaves, rollers, swivels etc. in good condition and all parts operating correctly?

Checks on Wire Slings, Shackles and Hooks


Check that the colour coding is current and the sling is has a visible number and SWL that is correct for the load expected.


Examine for wear, corrosion, abrasion and/or physical damage


Confirm the rigging has been correctly fitted in accordance with your company's approved procedure


Confirm that shackles are correct SWL and have the appropriate securing device fitted


Confirm that the correct shackle pin is fitted


Check that the slings have thimbles properly fitted in the eye if appropriate to reduce the bend radius on the wire


Check hooks are of correct SWL, are appropriate for use and swivels/safety locks operate properly

Checks on Fibre Slings


Check that the SWL is correct for the load expected


Inspect thoroughly for signs of damage, such as cuts, tears, chafing, burst stitching or particles in the fibre


Fibre slings which have any of the above are unsafe and must be destroyed immediately to prevent re-use


All fibre slings should be stored so that they do not become contaminated by oil, grease or chemicals.


Do not paint fibre slings to colour-code them. The paint may react with the fibres and degrade their performance


Ensure fibre slings do not come into contact with sharp edges


Inspect the slings after use. If they are in any way damaged, they must be quarantined for further inspection/destruction