Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Pallet Forks & Safely Using Them

 


Self Leveling forks are the easy way to lift items on a pallet with a crane. You do need a structural lifter with a pallet. OSHA 1926.251 requires a rating. 

Here's the full text:

1926.251(a)(2)
Employers must ensure that rigging equipment:
1926.251(a)(2)(i)
Has permanently affixed and legible identification markings as prescribed by the manufacturer that indicate the recommended safe working load;
1926.251(a)(2)(ii)
Not be loaded in excess of its recommended safe working load as prescribed on the identification markings by the manufacturer; and
1926.251(a)(2)(iii)
Not be used without affixed, legible identification markings, required by paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section.
1926.251(a)(3)
Rigging equipment, when not in use, shall be removed from the immediate work area so as not to present a hazard to employees.
1926.251(a)(4)
Special custom design grabs, hooks, clamps, or other lifting accessories, for such units as modular panels, prefabricated structures and similar materials, shall be marked to indicate the safe working loads and shall be proof-tested prior to use to 125 percent of their rated load.
They are asking for a structural lifter to be rated. Straps don't provide the ridgidity to resist the torsion applied to the pallet. As a result the pallet could fail in any number of ways to drop everything. This reasoning and rule doesn't change with other items. The plain reading of the rule is clear that "Other Lifting Accessories... Shall be Marked to indicate the Safe working load." 
So we need a structural pallet lifter. Without looking, I'm going to say that I can provide ten options to do this. But even these need to be used properly. 
Most flying forks or crane pallet forks are set up to balance on 40 inch deep pallets. You can specifically order 48" pallet forks. We can manufacture them if they are what you need. But if you don't ask, you'll be getting 40" pallet forks from most manufacturers. What happens is if you put something wider than the forks, it's going to be difficult to balance the forks. The Center of Gravity will be beyond the reach of the center of the attachment point above. The load lean away from the mast and it's not the safest way to lift. 



Notice this center point and that it would struggle to get to the center of the load. Sometimes if this is under 25% of the capacity of the forks, then you can put a foot on the horizontal bar, and grab the top of the mast where it changes direction. Then you can lean back and force the trolley into the best position possible. But you really should have the load within the reach of the forks, and the Center of Gravity inside of the trolley reach, with at least 25% of the rating on the forks to compress the springs. 


You also want that weight as far back as possible. This gap is only exacerbating the problem on a load that is already too long for the physics involved. 

If you need pallet forks, we have them at cranepalletforks.net. Manual, self leveling, or self leveling with a net as an added safety option. This option is what the UK requires. 

Our forks there can be shipped to you. The prices shown cover the delivery to North America. You'll find these are very competitive and the forks are excellent quality. An ASME B30.20 cert comes with every set. If we can help with any other detail, please feel free to reach out at sales@cranegear.net










Thursday, July 11, 2024


 How we should lift concrete blocks is a common discussion in the field. Rebar rusts and weakens. Cables are meant to be lifted how many times? I've heard stories of failure on cables, but I haven't seen it. I know it to be true with rebar. With rigging you still have to lift it or it gets trapped and it's a pain. The right solution is a ASME B30.20 rated mechanical clamp. A block clamp. 

The Eichinger 1562 Clamp found at www.CraneGear.net can be a good option. The sizes range from 0 to 47" wide on this clamp. Capacities are up to 8800 lbs. And it's fully adjustable as you can see in the video. There is another clamp that could work well too. The 1567 which is not listed on the website is a good choice for this work. If you know what you are going to be lifting, it's easy for us to just get what you need for the job. It'll quickly pay you back when you are working with a $500 and hour crane and crew. If it allows you to work with a forklift instead, it might pay back in as fast as the first day. If you end up wanting to look at other brands, make sure it's as automated as ours is. 

What's also cool is that we might be able to air freight it right to your door for an affordable price. If you want one in 7-10 business days, we'll have you covered so you can get to safe lifting. 





Friday, June 7, 2024

Lessons that Stay with You

 




In 2006 I was a tower crane operator in Seattle. I had spent five years prior erecting tower cranes. That company would call me out to help out when busy on weekends and evenings. I was one of the crane erectors on the tower crane that collapsed in Bellevue two months after we erected it. The specific details might be muddled here as it was 18 years ago. But the overall lesson is so clear in my head. It's one of those lessons I am compelled to share so others don't have to feel one of those things that I get to live with. Matthew Ammon was home in his apartment cooking and died at the end of that crane jib as it came down on his apartment. He was close to my age. I couldn't yet protect him. The problems going on were near my grasp, but I was short of being able to articulate what was wrong. Today, I don't want to be short of articulating when things are wrong. Liked or not, I say it. Matthew Ammon's memory is why.

I was a crane erector. My job was to correctly assemble a crane. We did that part. When we were assembling the crane, there was a problem. The frame it was on was allowing too much movement. I couldn't articulate why it was wrong, but it was a red flag. One I would need to hand off to someone else. We did that. We were told it was planned for. Carry on. (For those curious, the crane was out of level on the beams at 1:96. The tolerance is 1:500. The debate for us erectors was with regard to checking that with just the counterjib hanging. You 100% can check the level with the counter jib hanging at the base. This will correlate with the plumb. If you do have movement outside of 1:500, the crane is definitely out of plumb and you should stop. Articulating this at the time was outside of my larger understanding.)

I was home doing laundry months later when my wife said a crane went down. I knew what it would be before I saw it. The red flag was right. As I progressed in my career I gained the ability to articulate problems at a deeper level. The challenge of that is that I can't set it aside anymore. I'm compelled to speak up. I don't have room for another tenant in my head.

I can't fight everyone's fight. But a place I see a large need is with regard to how we attach things to cranes. From the base of the crane to the straps it's all meant to be rated. And then people will literally lift a cardboard box on straps. Pallets held together by nails. Everyone knows that nails are great in tension (/s). Plastic box of unknown age and rating? "Strap it up. I'll yell overhead." OSHA and ASME both require everything to be rated. That wooden box you are using... what's it rated for? In Canada, in almost every province, they cite ASME. Did you know that ASME cites steel as the materials required for their rating? These are details we have ignored at our peril. If it contains or supports a load, it is required to have a rating.

I am a salesman of crane attachments. It's not because I love crane attachments. It's because I can get behind solving this problem. It's because it's a problem I can articulate and help save a life at this stage of my own life. I'll never know the life that I save in this last part of my career. I just know they are out there living life. I got a call from a contractor that experienced a death recently. And I've heard this frustration from others. They just want to solve it so they don't face it again. The problem is that the feeling comes after. "I could have stopped this, but I didn't." "What can I do to improve." becomes that overwhelming feeling. You can take steps to prevent that feeling. Or you can just wait for it.

I don't even care if you buy from me. If you take a look at your issues and see something crane rated with others that solves the issue, please, get it. Your whole crane safety program is worthless if you are just going to put things to be lifted into a box that is going to fall apart in the sky. The analog to consider is, if I showed up with a concrete bucket made of wood and told you it's rated for what the straps are rated for, you'd know I was a kook. Where is the difference from that to lifting up a box nailed together with no rating? Cranes aren't fuzzy things. Crane operations are clear, precise, and they have built in safety factors. If you don't know what they are, you are about to do something illegal. More importantly, you are risking the burden of losing someone. Even when that someone is someone you don't know, and if it ultimately isn't your fault, you won't care for that burden at all.


Thursday, May 2, 2024

OSHA 1926.251 Visualized and Explained

 








 
















 Loading up multifamily buildings takes a lot of materials. Each apartment is likely to have around 20,000 lbs of stuff in it. When you think of the time to carry up 50 lbs of items up four flights of stairs, It might cost $15 for one way at today's wages. Now we divide 20k by 50 and find that it's $6000 to load up the apartment with stuff. And if you have 150 apartments, we are talking about $900,000 to load an apartment building 50 lbs at a time. Not to mention crane days, damage to product and so on. So if you are a contractor that needs to load a building efficiently, you want an elevator. Of course the builidng ones won't be ready. Exterior ones require an operator that might cost 20k a month if you are using a third party. So what to do? 

How about an automated hoist? Our Transport Platforms are automated. Send it up. When it passes the floor before where you wanted to get to, hit the stop button. It will stop at the next floor. No more inputs needed. Then your subs can open the gates and off load the car. When they are done, they can send it down or to another floor from the floor itself. Literally, no operator needed. 

We've had automated elevators in buildings since 1950. It's just insane that we can't have them on jobsites. But today you can. These are built under ANSI A92 and are treated as Scaffold. So if you live in an area that pretends all hoists require an operator in them, this one disagrees. You'll want to check with your local laws, but these should fall under scaffold and not the ANSI A10.5 that might give some jurisdiction to the elevator departments. 

These are 10' long and rated at 4400 lbs in Materials mode.  The motors and gearboxes are SEW Eurodrive. Controls are Schneider and Omron. For a contractor that is obligated to provide hoisting to subs, there is no better way to address that then by pointing to the hoist and giving a five minute training. You'll no longer need to organize and pay for a crane day. If product gets damaged, you can simply let the sub know that you didn't handle it. It's now their responsibility. The Transport Platforms change the game from all angles. 


Cranegear.net is the website. sales@cranegear.net is the contact. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Pallet Lifting Safety

 There are so many ways to lift pallets safely. Yet I routinely see people lifting unsafely. I caught these two examples literally on the first job I walked by in Washington State, then again on the next block. This is where the state as a requirement for ASME rated attachments but the Crane Department in Washington can't seem to figure out what that means. ASME can include straps in their designs or use. This doesn't exclude the requirement for the support to be rated. yet...





There are solutions to these issues available. We have conventional forks as an option. Crane rated. Self-leveling or you can manually set the level. I know the manuals aren't popular, but you get the full rating of the forks. If you have self leveling ones you honestly lose the first 25% of the rating. Up to 4400 lbs the tines on ours are hollow making them easy to adjust as a single person. 

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Or if you wanted a little more protection in case you are concerned an item might fall off, we have forks designed to have a net installed to catch items. Charge the forks in the pallet and lift just off of the ground. Install the net and retain larger items in the Safety Net. These forks are speced for the UK market. 


We also have several other options of boxes that you can put a pallet in, or wrap around the forks. 






You can get these with a ramp so once you land it you can pull the items out with a pallet jack. These have lifting eyes, or you can lift it with a set of forks and secure it to the forks. 




Our 1058SC is a cage and set of tines in one. Land it over a pallet and charge the tine. Lift a couple of feet up and you can close in the gates below. Then everything is wrapped up in structure and it's level on a four point lift. You do need a little more room for these to get the tines in and out. But it won an innovation award in 2018 in the UK. 

 Or we have standard crane bins where you land the pallet in the bin. You can do this by forklift, Pallet jack if you have the ramped version, crane fork, or another means I'm probably not thinking of. Close the gates or the ramp and away you go. Off load by hand or otherwise. Rated at 3300 or 6600 lbs depending on a single or double pallet version. 






There are a number of ways to make this work. The double pallet bins with the ramp are my suggestion. $3144 plus shipping. Affordable. 6600 lbs. Fly two pallets at once. The crane crew can drop and let them handle it with a pallet jack. Grab on another cycle and send it down. It saves a lift cycle with the forks. Everything is prepped without the crane, or can be. Everything is wrapped up in the cage and ASME B30.20 certified and maintained as level by the four point lifting system. 

We don't really have an excuse to not be lifting safety when it comes to pallets. I saw these photos recently online that illustrate that it's not a unique problem. We just need to do better. If we can help at www.CraneGear.net, we'll look forward to it. Let's prevent this sort of practices in hoisting. 



 






Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Nixon Era Rules not Enforced or Understood

 The beauty of AI is illustrating problems. I've spoken until I'm just exhausted laying out concepts. There are always operators who refuse to get the premise. But here's the deal, AI lays it out a bit. OSHA says that everything lifted has to be rated and tagged. There isn't an exception for placing straps below the supporting structure. The code just says rated... 

 1926.251(a)(2)

Employers must ensure that rigging equipment:
1926.251(a)(2)(i)
Has permanently affixed and legible identification markings as prescribed by the manufacturer that indicate the recommended safe working load;
1926.251(a)(2)(ii)
Not be loaded in excess of its recommended safe working load as prescribed on the identification markings by the manufacturer; and
1926.251(a)(2)(iii)
Not be used without affixed, legible identification markings, required by paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section.