Guide to the Care and Safe Use of Manual or Power Operated Blocks

Always ensure that suspension points are adequate for the full load to be imposed.
Always check the load chain/wire rope is hanging freely and is not twisted or knotted.
Always position the hook over the centre of gravity.
Always check the operation of the brake before making the lift.
Always ensure that slings are secure and the load is free to be lifted.
Always check the travel path is clear.
Always ensure that the landing area is properly prepared.
Never exceed the marked W.L.L.
Never use the load chain/wire rope as a sling.
Never shock load the block or other equipment.
Never overcrowd the hook with fittings or slings.
Never permit the load to swing out of control.
Never leave suspended loads unattended.

Types of Blocks

A wide range of manual and power blocks is available. This section of the page is concerned with matters which are common to the safe use of the following listed equipment when used in the vertical plane only.
Pulley blocks for fibre and wire rope used with winches, hand chain blocks, chain lever hoists, power operated wire rope blocks and power operated chain blocks. The use of trolleys is often associated with blocks and these may be built in with the trolley as an integral part of the appliance, or independent with the block hung on.

Operator Training

Manual and power blocks (lifting appliances) should only be used by trained operators who understand their use and that of the associated equipment used in the lift.

Installation and Training

The erection/installation procedure will vary with the equipment and should be carried out in accordance with the supplier’s instructions paying attention to the following matters:

  • Prior to installation inspect the equipment to ensure that no damage has occurred in store or transit.
  • Ensure that the support structure is adequate for the full loads that will be imposed, is tested and marked with the W.L.L.
  • When erecting trolleys ensure that they are correctly set for the beam width and that the track is fitted with end stops and remains level at all loads up to the maximum.
  • When suspending appliances by a top hook ensure that the support fits freely into the seat of the hook.
  • With power operated blocks the supply should be connected by a suitably Qualified Person taking into account any statutory or technical requirements.
  • Test run to ensure the free and correct movement of the chain/rope. Check the operation of the brake. Check direction of control command, position and operation of travel limits and safety devices.

Safe Use of Blocks

The basic objectives of any lifting operation are to move the load to the desired location and land it safely, efficiently and without damage to the load, the equipment used or the surrounding buildings, plant etc. In addition to any specific instructions relating to the block the following general points must be observed:
Never attempt lifting operations unless you have been trained in the use of the equipment and slinging procedures.
Position the hook directly over the centre of gravity so that the line of pull is vertical.
Do not use the chain/wire rope to sling the load, i.e. do not wrap it around the load, back hook or choke hitch.
Do not lift on the point of the hook or overcrowd the hook with fittings.
Never lift/lower more than the marked W.L.L. In the case of manual equipment if abnormally high effort is required and with power operated appliances they fail to lift the load, or if the load slips this is an indication of too high a load or a fault – check the load and the appliance.
Avoid unnecessary inching of power operated appliances and do not impose sudden or shock loads.
Push rather than pull loads suspended form appliances with push/pull trolleys and if unladen pull on the bottom hook. Never pull an appliance by the pendant control, supply cable or hose.
Avoid sudden movement of travel motion or undue effort in pushing the load which can cause the load to swing.
Avoid excessive or intentional use of motion limits unless they are additional limits intended for that purpose. Avoid running appliances against end stops.
Do not allow anyone to pass under or ride upon the load. Never leave loads unattended unless in an emergency then ensure that the area is cordoned off and kept clear.
Do not remove guards, protective covers, weather proof covers, heat shields etc. without the authority of a Competent Person.

In Service Inspection and Maintenance

The obligation falls on the employer and user to ensure that lifting equipment is maintained.
In addition to thorough examinations by a Competent Person, regular in-service inspections should be made to find any faults and damage that might arise. If there are any they should be referred to a Competent Person.
The maintenance programmes must meet the requirements of the manufacturer’s instructions and any special requirements due to the conditions of service. This may be combined with the maintenance of other equipment used in association with the appliance, e.g. power feed systems. Check the block and its associated equipment delay for obvious faults and signs of damage.

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