Lifting, Rigging, Hoisting: Train Your Employees on Best Practices to Handle Slings

Moving large, heavy loads is customary in today’s grain and feed industry. Technology has been developed for these operations, but they still require careful training and extensive workplace precautions.

Significant safety issues must be considered, both for the operators of lifting devices and the employees in proximity to such equipment.

Safety is the first priority when performing any task, including lifting operations. An understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the equipment involved in the process also is important. The safety policy, “If it’s not safe, don’t do it,” applies not only to your safety, but also to the safety of co-workers.

Thought Process of Rigging

• What is to be done with the load?

• What tools are needed to perform the assigned task?

• Is the capacity of the tools adequate to handle the loads and force involved in lifting and moving?

• How can the hookup be made?

• What will happen when the load is lifted?

Safe Rigging Practices

• Whenever possible, avoid sharp, inefficient sling angles by using longer slings or a spreader beam.

• Do not pull slings from under a load when the load is resting on the sling.

• Do not drag slings over sharp objects or abrasive surfaces.

• Do not leave slings lying where heavy loads may be set down on top of them or where vehicles may drive over them.

• Slings should be stored in an assigned area.

• The storage should be such that the slings will not be subject to kinking or other mechanical damage, corrosive atmosphere, or excessive temperature.

• Damaged slings always should be repaired before they are placed in the assigned storage area.

• Do not make temporary repairs of slings with miscellaneous or makeshift parts.

• Fiber-rope slings should not be made from ropes less than 1/2 inch in diameter.

• Do not use metal-mesh slings in which the spirals are locked or do not move freely.

• Do not hammer a metal-mesh sling to straighten a spiral or cross rod or to force a spiral into position.

• If metal-mesh slings are used in pairs, they should be attached to a spreader beam.

Training Requirements

Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) lifting, rigging, and hoisting regulations (29 CFR 1926.32), the employer shall train employees on regulations applicable to their work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.

Specifically, an employer must select and properly train employees in all lifting, rigging, and hoisting operations for the following roles:

• The term “competent person” is used in many OSHA standards and documents. It has been defined as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, identifying which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

• The term “designated personnel” refers to someone selected or assigned by the employer or the employer’s representative as being qualified to perform specific duties.

• “Qualified” means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his or her ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.

This article is one in a series of Safety Tips published by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), Arlington, VA (202-289-0873). To view more NGFA Safety Tips, go to and click on Issues.

- From the September/October 2021 GRAIN JOURNAL