Why use certified lifting equipment?
There are two basic certifications that are required on a lifting device in Canada. The first is the engineering approval on the capacity. The other is an annual weld inspection for ongoing certification. I occasionally come across un-certified lifting equipment in my trips around Alberta and every time it surprises me. Although, the industry is slowly becoming better at policing this, and the operators out there are getting trained to make sure their equipment is certified, it is still fairly common to see even larger companies using lifting equipment that hasn’t been engineered. Or, if has been engineered, it hasn’t been documented properly.
So why should you make sure your equipment is certified?
1. Because it is the Law
The Occupational Health and Safety Code (OH&S) which governs the use of lifting equipment in Alberta and specifically states in Section 6 that a lifting device needs to be certified in writing by an engineer and bear the professional seal. This certification document should clearly outline loading scenarios and rating information to confirm the capacity of the lifting device. The exception to this rule is that if the bar is commercially produced. It is usually assumed that a mass produced product meets regulations and engineers were used to verify equipment. OH&S also refers to ASME B30.20 which is the below the hook lifting code that governs many operation and design related issues with lifting equipment. This code calls for a periodic (annual) documented inspection by a qualified personal. This would be the inspection that a NDT inspector is generally hired to do.
2. For Safety
Using a certified lifting device ensures that you are using a piece of equipment that has been verified to be structurally sound for a given rating. This means it meets the appropriate 2:1, 3:1 or 5:1 safety factor on top of the safe working load required by code. Managers and supervisors can rest at night knowing the equipment is up to the task. The ongoing inspection also ensures the lifting device stays in good, safe, operating condition throughout the life of the product. When an engineer stamps these two documents, he is certifying that the device has been reviewed and is safe for continued use. The documentation that goes with these two certifications also provides a good safety reference for employees to make sure the device is being used correctly.
3. Quality Control
In most cases, the process of certifying a spreader bar includes a quality control (QC) review of the manufacture. This is especially true if the engineer certifying the bar is hired by or hiring the manufacturing company to make the bar. What usually happens is the engineer will specify a set of codes that the manufacturer is required to follow during the construction of the equipment. These fabrication codes are designed around maintaining a high quality procedure day in and day out. It is common in Alberta for the welding to fall into CSA W59 in a Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) certified shop. This code makes sure qualified welders are used to do the fabrication and qualified welding procedures are followed. Often an ISO9001 or equivalent program is also in place which adds material tractability, inspection procedures, and few other nice QC features. All these add up to a product that will be defect free and last a long time.
Let me start by saying I am not a lawyer but what I do know is that each employer is responsible for doing their due diligence in making sure their worksite is safe to be in. Getting certified equipment shifts some of the liability regarding whether or not the equipment is safe off the operator and his company and onto the engineer doing the certification. The operator makes sure the equipment is certified and the engineer makes sure it’s safe. This only leaves the operator to make sure that the device is being used correctly in order to avoid liability and the annual inspection makes sure that the equipment is safe. Therefore, the employer really only needs to worry about handling any liability related to an employee misusing the equipment and have a procedure in case of a misadventure.
Do you have an un-certified lifting equipment?
I recommend checking to see if it has proper documentation with regards to the original engineering done on the device to give it the rating. If that is in place, start with an annual inspection and let your inspector know that he needs to do a code review to make sure rating plates, tags, etc. are to code. If that base level engineering is not in place, or can’t be found, you can either have the device reverse engineered or replaced. If the device is a mass produced product like a spreader bar, often the cost of reverse engineering combined with the chance that it might not be compliant is more than just replacing the item. On the other hand, if the equipment is big or specialized, reverse engineering can be an effective option.
Still have questions? Contact Sparta and we will try and help with your situation.
Learn more about the NDT inspection services that Sparta Engineering offers here.