This article is Part 4 of a 7-part blog series that will cover what operators should consider when performing a pre-operational hoist safety inspection. Today, we’ll discuss controls.
Before operating a hoist, it is critical to check the hoist controls. If a hoist control is not properly labeled or is not working correctly, people can get injured and loads, and the surrounding environment can be damaged. There are two things to check when inspecting hoist controls. The first is the overall condition the control is in, including clear markings and labels. The second is whether or not the control functions properly. Let’s walk through each of these in detail.
Checking the Condition of your Hoist Control
Before operating a hoist, it’s important to check the condition of the pendant housing, buttons, and cables. Look for cracks, loose wires, and frays – anything that appears to be abnormal or unsafe. Specific areas to check include:
Below are some pictures of pendants we’ve collected. As you can see, pendants are typically abused. Here are some examples of what to look for:
In Figure 1, you can see a little orange wire sticking out on the right-hand side of the pendant. These pendants are live and therefore you could experience an electrical shock if you touch the wire. This exposed wire could also prevent the pendant from working properly or cause it not to work at all. This pendant should be fixed before use.
In Figure 2, you can see the pendant is very dirty, but this is not the issue you should be concerned about. Here we have a cracked button. When we push the button down, a metal plate makes contact with a live wire. If the button is broken, this is also a shock hazard. This button should be replaced before use.
In Figure 3, we have a zip tie holding the pendant together. Because there is a live power feed going to the pendant, this can cause an electrical shock. This pendant should be fixed and the zip tie removed before use.
If you see ANY of these issues or other unsafe conditions when you inspect your pendant, the hoist should be taken out of service until the pendant is repaired.
Checking Hoist Control Buttons: Markings & Operation
After you have ensured the pendant is in working order and safe to operate, you should test the buttons to make sure they are labeled clearly and correctly. You may be familiar with how to operate the controls, but if someone new had to use the hoist, could they identify what each button does? This test is one of the pre-operational tests you should always conduct before using a powered hoist.
A few warnings to keep in mind before you test the pendant’s operation:
- Ensure the area under the hoist or crane is clear of obstructions. Also, make sure there is no one under or in the path of the hoist, including yourself.
- Do not put a load on the hoist during this test.
- If the limit switch fails, make sure you do not run the bottom block into the hoist, drum or trolley. This action can damage the hoist. Please note that some hoists do not have limit switches.
- Be prepared to stop the hoist by releasing the controller.
Once you have taken these safety precautions, you are ready to operate and test the hoist controls. Just a quick check in each direction is sufficient for this portion of the inspection. There is no need for extreme movements. To check for proper operation, follow the steps below:
- First, you need to verify the markings on the pendant are correct – that “up” moves the hoist up and “down” moves the hoist down.
- Test that the trolley controls move the trolley left or right as indicated on the pendant buttons.
- Test the bridge to ensure it moves as specified on the pendant.
– Check any warning devices on the pendant as well, if applicable. For example, horns, an indicator light, etc.
– Make sure controls were not modified or safety features were not disabled. One example is to disconnect a shut-off feature or extend or shorten operational switches. These features are intended to keep the operator safe. Do not operate any unit with modified controls.
– One suggestion: Marking the direction as “left” or “right” can be confusing depending on how the operator is standing, so we suggest labeling the controls with “north,” “south,” “east” and “west” to avoid any confusion.
– All functions of the hoist must work properly and as marked on the pendant. If not, the hoist must be taken out of service.
Once you have ensured the controls are clearly marked and functioning properly, you are ready to operate your hoist. Remember, if at any time in the future these issues are found with your control pendant, the hoist should be taken out of service until the controls are repaired.