Within Australian workplaces, load failures and injuries caused by exceeding the rated capacity of chain and lever blocks are a significant concern – and the misuse of these versatile lifting tools adds to the risk. This article sheds light on the common issues surrounding manual chain and lever blocks, their proper usage and the essentiality of regular inspections to prevent accidents and ensure workplace safety.
Understanding Chain and Lever Blocks
Manual chain and lever blocks are widely employed for heavy-duty lifting and materials handling operations. Lever hoists offer the advantage of lifting in various positions, including horizontal, while chain blocks are limited to vertical lifting only. Additionally, lever blocks can be utilised for tensioning, lifting and load pulling. It is crucial to match the load with the appropriate block, considering factors such as application, size, and the type of load being lifted whilst using in a straight line. Some hoists, like the Beaver Chain and Lever Blocks, even feature colour-coded options to enhance selection with capacity as per the international standard on synthetic slings. This helps identify the WLL of the block by colour – and the same holds true with the synthetic lifting slings.
Neglecting to inspect chain or lever blocks before each use can pose potential risks, such as twisted chains or obvious external damage that could result in dropped loads. Regular inspections and servicing chain or lever blocks – both frequent and periodic – play a pivotal role in maintaining the safety and reliability of these lifting tools.
Operators should conduct frequent inspections through a visual examination before every use, checking the load chain, hand chain, top and bottom hooks/latches, as well as the brake mechanism. This ensures any visible issues are promptly identified.
With periodic inspections, a certified, competent inspector should conduct a comprehensive check at least once every 12 months, following AS1418.2 guidelines. This certified inspection offers a higher level of scrutiny to guarantee compliance with safety standards.
Mitigating Common Risks:
In addition to proper inspection and usage, it is crucial to minimise other common risks associated with chain and lever blocks:
1. Avoid overloading or shocking the block by staying within the rated capacity. As mentioned before, locks such as the Beaver 3S range are colour coded to match international WLL standards and include models with built in overload protection.
2. Ensure slings or attachments are correctly secured to prevent accidents.
3. Never run the hook assembly into the body of the block, as this can cause damage and compromise safety.
4. Avoid lifting loads over people and never leave a suspended load unattended, minimising the risk of injuries to personnel.
To ensure the integrity of chain and lever blocks and other heavy lifting equipment, Bunzl Safety & Lifting offers a dedicated team of field testing and inspection officers. It provides on-site inspections and has NATA-Accredited branches throughout Australia where lifting gear can be dropped off for testing and repairs. For comprehensive supply of lifting and rigging gear, including chain and lever blocks (with and without overload protection), as well as professional equipment inspections and testing, visit www.bunzlsafetyandlifting.com.au or call 1800 967 573.