Planning a lift can be a complicated process. The decision-making team includes a number of people, including the project manager, project engineer, health and safety adviser, principle owner and, possibly, a client. They can have a range of priorities, all of which have to be taken into account.
That is why a number of key issues need to be considered, says Carl Cooper, mini crane sales and after-sales manager for Hird. Carl considers 5 of them here. Later, we will be publishing 5 more.
Carl says: “As a mini crane hire and mini crane sales company, we obviously want companies planning lifts to consider the value of using mini cranes, whether that is spider cranes or pick and carry cranes, where these cranes are the right machines for the job. But these key issues are relevant, whatever the nature of the lift.”
1: Are you sure your lift will be safe?
The first question to ask is, is a machine needed to carry out the lift safely? If so, does the task require a crane? There are situations where companies faced with having to lift, say, a 1 or 2 tonne load, can be tempted to use a forklift truck or a telehandler, already on site. That would be the quickest and simplest option, right? Not if the machine turns out to be unstable, and drops the load, or tips over.
Here, then, is the best step-by-step way to consider a lift task:
1. Can the lift be carried out safely by manual handling? If NO….
2.Can the lift be carried out by using manual handling equipment, such as a barrow or mechanical forklifts? If NO….
3.What does the manufacturer of the load advise? Crane or forklift?
4.Have we any lifting equipment? Crane or forklift? If NO….
5.What do we need? And how will we obtain it?
Carl Cooper says: “A modern pick and carry crane, like the Valla mini cranes we supply, have load monitoring systems that support the lift process, and will guide the operator in making a safe lift. So, if the load is estimated to be 1 tonne, but is actually 2 tonnes, the load safety system will tell you, helping you to avoid nasty surprises that can lead to accidents.
“Pick and carry cranes are also designed to minimise handling. So a load can be picked up, carried to another location and placed precisely where it needs to go. Using other methods you might have to lift it, load it onto a transporter, then lift it again at the other end, making the risk more complicated, costly and risky.”
There are four aspects to a lift – people, equipment, the load, and the environment within which the lift is carried out. Always consider the risk of crushing and trapping injuries. So always have a good risk assessment and method statement – RAMS – in place.
2: Do you need an overhead lift or to sling a load?
The basic rule is, if a load has to be slung, use a crane. A crane is designed specifically to lift and move a load lifted from above. A forklift or a telehandler, for instance, is not. So it is at greater risk of becoming unstable during a lift.
Carl Cooper says: “A very good idea is to look closely at the load being lifted, and check any manufacturers /operating instructions. This way you can assess whether it has been designed to be lifted from above. If it has lifting points, it probably has. Manufacturers / operating instructions may state specifically the kind of equipment needed to lift it.
“Also, bear in mind the bulk and shape of the object needing to be lifted. Pick and carry mini cranes are designed to lift loads of a wide range of sizes and weight distribution, offering exceptional stability at all times.”
3: Do you have the right lifting knowledge?
Do you have competent persons on site with the knowledge needed to plan a lift to be carried out in the safest and most cost-effective way? This could be an Appointed Person in lifting operations.
Taking the point made above about a decision-making team having a say on a lift, it is very useful to take advice from some-one who has the experience and expertise to see the big picture from all angles. Without that, there is a risk that a lift can be carried out unsafely, or in a way that is tried and tested, but that will be most costly or more time-consuming than in needs to be.
Carl Cooper says: “Lifting knowledge takes account of safety, the priorities associated with the lift, such as what needs to be lifted, when and where it is going, the resources in place, time constraints and cost.
“If you don’t feel you have the full picture on all these issues, then get some external advice. We regularly advise companies about planned lifts. We operate a machinery moving service and a contract lifting service. So we know what we’re talking about.
“I believe that the safest lifting solution is also the most cost-effective one. For example, using a pick and carry mini crane to lift, move and place a load is both safer and less expensive than using a larger crane and carrying out a complex lift or blind lift, combined with separate transport, or a solution that includes manual handling.”
4: Do you have trained crane operators?
Have you trained operators and skilled managers to carry out your lifting operations? An assessment needs to be made of what lifting requirements you have, and whether it would be cost-effective to give members of your team mini crane operator training, so they can support those operations.
Carl Cooper says: “The assessment may find the best solution is to have a mini pick and carry crane on site permanently, with one or more people trained to use it. Or mini crane hire might be the best option, with trained personnel on site ready to use the equipment, as the need arises.
“In the manufacturing and maintenance sectors, the engineer may have a primary skill or job, backed by secondary training, in skills like manual handling or first aid. It’s not uncommon for them to be qualified fork lift operators or hold a mini crane operator’s licence.
“Hird delivers mini crane operator training. In some circumstances, where a lift is particularly complex, we can provide pick and carry crane operators who can support the internal team.”
5: Is the lift you require in a clean or sterile environment?
This is all about horses for courses. For lifts in external areas, a diesel crane may be appropriate. That said, an increasing number of companies prefer to use electric cranes externally, because they fit in with a sustainable operational strategy. For working internally, especially in clean environments, electric mini cranes fitted with non-marking tyres are available.
Carl Cooper says: “Using a mini pick and carry crane that is specifically designed for working internally in standard work areas, where operating space can be confined, allows lifts to progress safely and efficiently. Valla mini pick and carry cranes offer both DC power and diesel / LPG power options, and can have ATEX explosion kits fitted as standard.”
Carl will cover 5 more key questions in a future article. In the meantime, if you need any advice on carrying out a lift, call Hird today. We’re here to help.
Hird is the UK and Ireland authorised dealer for Valla mini pick and carry cranes. We offer mini cranes for hire and for sale. We also have a comprehensive fleet of spider cranes for hire, offer a machinery moving service and a contract lifting service.
All our mini crane services can be accessed nationally through our three operating hubs.
Northern – 01482 227333
Central – 01302 341659
Southern – 0203 174 0658