Don’t Skip the Initial Inspection
Most riggers are aware of the need to inspect their slings and rigging hardware every day, before and during use, which is sometimes called the in-service or frequent inspection.
And riggers are normally aware of the need for a thorough inspection — sometimes called the periodic inspection — required at least once a year by many standards.
However, one critical inspection that is often overlooked or ignored is the “initial inspection.”
What is the Initial Inspection?
Paraphrasing the ASME B30.26 rigging hardware and ASME B30.9 sling standards, it is an inspection done by a designated person before use of any new, altered, modified, or repaired sling or rigging hardware.
Think about it, if you ordered new slings or rigging hardware, wouldn’t you want to ensure you received the right product, with the required product identification on the sling or rigging hardware, and make sure it has no defects?
You’d also want to ensure it functions properly before you make it a permanent part of your rigging inventory or release it for use in the field.
If the product was altered, modified, or repaired (assuming the manufacturer allows such alterations), ASME says that a qualified person must first inspect the sling or rigging hardware to verify it does not constitute a hazard when used.
To take the subject even further, I would also recommend that companies require an initial inspection be performed whenever slings or rigging gear are relocated from one job site to another.
Don’t assume that someone at the last job site inspected the rigging equipment after its last use. You don’t want to risk putting defective equipment back into service.
What if the sling was overloaded and damaged during its last use? What if the shackle’s working load limit is no longer valid due to wear, modification, cracks, nicks, or sharp gouges?
It’s dangerous to assume your coworkers shipped you pristine equipment.
Take an extra couple of minutes to perform a visual inspection upon receipt. Lives and Loads are at stake!
What to Look for in an Initial Inspection?
It is not the purpose of this article to address the rejection criteria for every type of sling or rigging hardware.
However, it’s safe to say that you would be looking for obvious defects; wrong equipment for the job; equipment that does not match what was ordered; unauthorized modifications; and improper identification, such as missing tags, missing capacity or rated load identification, and missing name or trademark of manufacturer; etc.
It’s a chilling thought that ongoing oversights in this area suggest that there are slings and rigging hardware in use right now, perhaps even on your site, that may not be fit for service.
Let me throw out a few “did you know” questions.
Did you know?
• Written records of the initial inspection are required per B30.9 for alloy chain and metal mesh slings? And the inspection record must reference the individual sling identification? Written records are not required when conducting the initial inspection for wire rope and synthetic slings.
• OSHA 1926.1412 (b)(1) also addresses the need for an initial inspection of the crane load hook after a repair or adjustment of equipment.
• LEEA (Lifting Equipment Engineers Association), is a well-respected organization headquartered in the U.K. Its “Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Lifting Equipment,” Section 126.96.36.199, provides very useful information on the requirements for inspection of lifting equipment before it is used for the first time.
This is a mere overview of the importance of, and requirement for, initial inspection. For full details, see OSHA and ASME, or the standard for your area of the world.