Equipment such as powered industrial trucks, cranes, and overhead hoists are used to aid in the movement of materials. These types of equipment often use chains to lift and hold their suspended loads. Following is some guidance on the proper selection, use, and maintenance of lifting chains.
Alloy steel chains are often used because of their strength, durability, abrasion-resistance, and ability to conform to the shape of the loads on which they are used. In addition, these slings are able to lift hot materials. Alloy steel chain slings are made from various grades of alloy, but the most common grades in use are grades 80 and 100. These chains are manufactured and tested in accordance with ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) guidelines. Chains purchased at home-improvement stores may not be rated for lifting so it’s important to check sling rating, grade, and capacity prior to lifting.
New slings are marked by the manufacture to show size, grade, rated load, and length (reach).
Designate a qualified person to inspect chains and all fastenings/attachments for damage or defects each day before use. This qualified person also performs additional periodic inspections where service conditions warrant, as determined on the basis of:
- Frequency of sling use.
- Severity of service conditions.
- Nature of the lifts being made
What to Look for When Doing a Chain Inspection
- Defective welds.
- Nicks, cracks, breaks, gouges, stretching, bends, discoloration due to excessive heat.
- Excessive pitting or corrosion.
- Throat opening of hooks.
- Missing or illegible sling identifications.
- Other conditions that cause doubt as to continued safe use of the sling.
Where any such defect or deterioration is present, remove the sling or attachment from service immediately. Do not use worn or damaged alloy steel chain slings or attachments. Discard or repair them. Use damaged slings only after they are repaired, reconditioned, and proof tested by the sling manufacturer or equivalent entity. See OSHA 1910.184(e)(7)(i) for more information.
Safe Lifting Practices
Below are just a few tips to remember when working with lifting chains. For a full list, refer to OSHA 1910.184
- Do not use alloy steel slings with loads exceeding the rated loads.
- Use attachments, such as hooks, rings, oblong links, pear-shaped links, or welded or mechanical coupling links that have a rated capacity at least equal to that of the alloy steel chain with which they are used. If attachments with rated capacities lower than the chain are used, ensure that the sling is rated to the weakest component used on the sling.
- Ensure that personnel do not stand or pass under a suspended load.
- Make a trial lift and trial lower to ensure the load is balanced, stable and secure.
- Balance the load to avoid overstress on one sling arm or the load slipping free.
- Lower the working load limit if severe impact may occur.
- Pad sharp corners to prevent bending links and to protect the load.
- Do not leave suspended loads unattended.
- Store chain sling arms on racks in assigned areas and not on the ground. The storage area should be dry, clean, and free of any contaminants which may harm the sling.