Safe Lifting Practices

Selection of the sling is only the first step in the rigging process. The next step is learning how to safely use it to hold and move a suspended load. There are four primary factors to consider when lifting a load safely. These are:
  • Load Size, Weight, and Center of Gravity – The center of gravity of an object is that point at which the entire weight may be considered to be concentrated. To make a level lift, the hoist hook must be located directly above this point. If the hook is too far to either side of the center of gravity, dangerous tilting will result, causing unequal stress in the sling legs. Load imbalances must be corrected immediately.
  • Number of Legs and Angle with the Horizontal – The smaller the angle between the sling legs and the horizontal, the greater the stress on the individual sling legs. This increased stress effectively decreases the weight that can be safely lifted with any given sling size. Large (heavy) loads can be safely moved by keeping this angle as large as possible and, when necessary, distributing the weight of the load among more sling legs.
  • Rated Capacity of the Sling – The rated capacity of a sling varies depending upon the type of material the sling is made of, the size of the sling, and the type of hitch. Workers must know the capacity of the sling, and can obtain this information through charts or tables available through the manufacturer. The rated capacity of a sling must not be exceeded, under any circumstances.
  • History of Care and Use – Mishandling and misuse of slings are the leading causes of sling failure. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper care and use are essential for maximum sling service life and safety.