Lifting Operations


This is the fourth 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



On all kind of vessels, lifting is a common part of the daily work. Lifting operations ranges from the everyday lifts, i.e. handling of stores and spares to the more complicated and heavy lifts such as installation of subsea modules, loading of heavy cargoes or building of platforms offshore.


What is the problem?

A survey carried out earlier showed that there could be more than 200 different lifting operations on a vessel. Each lifting operation has a risk of injury to people, but many tasks are repetitive and of low risk and only a percentage of them will be of greater risk and requires therefore specific risk assessments, and actions in order to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.

However, it must not be forgotten that many accidents happens during what we call the everyday operations. They might occur due to poor procedures, lack of procedures, poor maintenance, human errors, but also due to what’s called complacency.

In order to carry out a lifting operation as safe as possible, there are items that must be controlled before start of operation. A so called Job Site Review has to be conducted.

If you are responsible for a lift, you have to control the following before the operation starts:


Job Site Review


Is there a lift plan and risk assessment for the lifting operation and do they fully cover the actual tasks to be undertaken?


If this is a generic lift plan for a 'routine' lifting operation, are there any changes for this lifting operation compared to the generic plan, e.g change in weight, centre of gravity, vessel motion, wind, lighting?


Has a competent person assessed the lifting operation as safe?


Have you the authority/PTW required to proceed with the lift?


Has there been a tool box talk


Have you assessed the path the load will take?


Have you ensured that the path does not pass over personnel?


Have you prepared the set down area?


Have you checked and assessed tagline/hold-back requirements?


Can tagline personnel be in safe positions throughout the lift?


Has the lifting equipment been checked? Is it fit/certified/appropriate for use?


Is adequate supervision present and who will be in control of the lifting operation?


Have you considered vessel stability, vessel motion and dynamics?


Have environmental conditions been considered, e.g vessel motion, wind, rain etc?


Have all personnel been fully briefed?


Are communications adequate?


Has there been a check for potential dropped objects?


Are the steps of the lift plan and individual responsibilities clearly understood by all those affected and/or involved?


Are all personnel in the vicinity aware of the lift?


Is lighting adequate in pick up and set down areas?


Is lifting equipment correctly rigged and are there no twists or snags in wire ropes?


Is the crane hook vertically over the centre of gravity of the load?


Have all sea-fastenings/hold-downs been released?

Safe, successful lifting operations rely on clear leadership to encourage safety and efficiency in lifting operations and the personnel performing them in accordance with company management systems.

If you are responsible for a lift, you must make yourself aware of what is expected from you, and use the company management system as a tool for this.