Hoisting – A Guide to Doing It Safely  

Hoisting material is a critical part of all marine construction, from pile driving to bridge-building. […]

Hoisting material is a critical part of all marine construction, from pile driving to bridge-building. It’s also an activity that carries great risk for personal injury and material damage when something goes wrong.

The following is Marine Construction Magazine’s guide, excerpted from industry association and government agency sources in the public domain, to doing it safely.


The hoist operator must make sure protection is used and the area around the hoist is protected. Check for overhead wires, debris in the hoisting area, slippery or unstable ground, frayed cables, broken welds, bent struts, proper slings and safety hooks, the counterbalance, outriggers or faulty mechanical parts. Never assume that the equipment is in the same condition as when you last left it. Make frequent inspections of both equipment and conditions.

Do not exceed the rated capacity of your hoist. Only properly trained personnel are authorized to operate hoisting equipment.

Know the standard hoisting signals and use them. Do not take directions from more than one person. Never hoist a load over anyone’s head. Workers on the ground must stand clear and see that others do not walk under the suspended load. Hard hats must be worn by any workers in the hoisting area, whether on the ground or overhead.

Erect guardrails that are a minimum of 42 inches high, will contain 200 pounds of force, and have minimum of 4 feet on each side of hoisting area. Erect warning lines to isolate the hoisting area. Use tag lines to help control the loads being hoisted. Protect yourself by using a safety line/lifeline, when in an unprotected area or when installing, using, and dismantling a hoist.  

Hoisting/Lifting Equipment

All lifting appliances and items of lifting gear should be examined and tested by a competent person:

  • before being taken into use for the first time;
  • after erection on a site;
  • subsequently at intervals prescribed by such national laws or regulations;
  • after any substantial alteration or repair.
The results of any examination and/or test of a lifting device or lifting gear should be recorded and, as required, made available to the competent authority and to employers and workers or their representative. Every lifting appliance having a single safe working load and every item of lifting gear should be clearly marked with its maximum safe working load. Every lifting appliance having a variable safe working load should be fitted with effective means to indicate clearly to the driver each maximum safe working load and the conditions under which it is applicable.  

A lifting appliance or item of lifting gear should not be loaded beyond its safe working load or loads, except for testing purposes as specified by and under the direction of a competent person. Every lifting appliance and every item of lifting gear should be properly installed so as, inter alia, to provide safe clearance between any moving part and fixed objects, and to ensure the stability of the appliance.

Where necessary to guard against danger, no lifting appliance should be used without the provision of suitable signaling arrangements or devices. The drivers and operators of lifting appliances should be of the prescribed minimum age and properly trained and qualified.  

Hoisting Pile

Hoisting of piling shall be done by hooks provided with a means to prevent accidental disengagement or a shackle shall be used in place of a hook.

No pile driving equipment operator hoists piles in the leads when a worker who is not directly involved in the pile driving operation is on the superstructure of the pile driving equipment, or within range of the pile if it falls. No pile buck is to remain or ride on a load or part of a load being moved, raised or lowered by any pile driving equipment.

No pile buck is to be on the superstructure of any pile driving equipment or within range of a pile if it falls, providing of course the worker is not directly involved in hoisting of the actual pile.

Taglines shall be used for controlling unguided piles and free hanging (flying) pile hammers.  

Hoist Towers and Supporting Equipment

Hoists shall be designed and constructed or installed in accordance with the requirements set forth by ANSI standards. Any and all hoist towers, masts, guys or braces, counterweights, drive machinery supports, sheave supports, platforms, supporting structures, and accessories shall be designed by a licensed engineer. A copy of the hoist operating manual shall be available at all times it is operated.

Hoist towers shall be erected and dismantled only under the direct supervision of a qualified individual and inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations:

  • Prior to initial use and each time after the tower is extended, all parts of the tower or mast, cage, bucket, boom, platform, hoisting machine, guys, and other equipment shall be inspected by a qualified person to ensure compliance with the manufacturer’s inspection guidelines and ANSI standards.
  • Prior to initial use on any pile driving project, and monthly thereafter, a periodic inspection shall be conducted by a qualified person. Periodic inspections shall cover those items specified by the manufacturer. At the minimum, periodic inspections shall cover all sheaves, racks and pinions, guy ties, bolt connections, miscellaneous clamps, braces, and similar parts.
  • A GDA shall be notified at least 24 hours prior to any of the above inspections and may wish to accompany the contractor’s inspector.
  • Pre-operational inspections (start-up procedures) shall be conducted by the operator prior to every operation (shift) of the hoist. Before a hoist is placed in service and every 4 months thereafter, a car-arresting-device test shall be performed.
  • For rope-supported cars, the test shall be conducted in the following manner:
    • Pull a loop in the lifting rope and attach the test rope to each side of the loop above the bucket or platform;
    • Raise the platform or bucket to allow the load to be supported by the test rope; and
    • Cut the test rope to allow the load to fall and activate the car-arresting device.

For car suspension other than rope supported, the test shall be conducted by creating an over-speed condition of the car.

Structural components shall be inspected for damage after the test and before the hoist is placed in operation again.  

Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance and repairs shall be conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s precautions and procedures. Replacement parts for load bearing or critical components shall be either obtained from or certified by the equipment manufacturer.  

Landings and Runways

Landing platforms and runways that connect the hoist way or tower to a structure shall be designed and constructed to sustain the maximum intended load without failure. Floors or platforms that may become slippery shall have slip-resistant surfaces.

When workers may be exposed to falling objects, overhead protection, composed of 2-inch (5-cm) planking or the equivalent, shall be provided.

A barricade shall be provided at the open ends of each landing. The barricade shall extend a minimum distance of 6 feet (1.8 m) laterally along the outer edge of the landing from each side of the hoist way, shall extend from the floor a distance of at least 3 feet (0.9 m), and shall be of #19 US gauge wire or the equivalent, with openings not exceeding 0.5 inches (1.2 cm).

All hoistway entrances shall be protected by substantial gates or bars that shall guard the full width of the landing entrance. Gates shall be not less than 66 inches (167.6 cm) in height, with a maximum under clearance of 2 inches (5 cm), and shall be located not more than 4 inches (10.1 cm) from the hoist way line. Gates of grille, lattice, or other open work shall have openings of not more than 2 inches (5 cm).

Material shall not be stored on landing platforms or runways.  

Hoisting Ropes and Cables

Hoisting ropes shall be installed in accordance with the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations:

Whenever a slack line condition occurs, the proper seating of the rope in the sheaves and on the drum shall be checked prior to further operations. There shall be at least three full wraps of cable on the drums of hoisting equipment at all times.

The drum end of the rope shall be anchored to the drum by an arrangement specified by the crane or rope manufacturer.

Riding on material hoists or other hoisting equipment not meant for personnel handling is prohibited.

While hoisting equipment is in operation, the operator shall not perform any other work and shall not leave his/her position at the controls until the load has been safely landed or returned to ground level. Not more than one cage or bucket shall be operated at the same time by any one hoisting machine or operator.

Operating rules shall be established and posted at the operator’s station of the hoist. Such rules shall include signal system and allowable line speed for various loads. Rules and notices shall be posted on the car frame or crosshead in a conspicuous location, including the statement “No Riders Allowed.”

Air-powered hoists shall be connected to an air supply of sufficient capacity and pressure to safely operate the hoist. Pneumatic hoses shall be secured by some positive means to prevent accidental disconnection.  

Aerial Lifts

Aerial lifts, powered or manual, include, but are not limited to, the following types of vehicle mounted aerial devices used to elevate personnel to job sites above ground: extensible boom platforms, articulating boom platforms, and vertical towers.

When operating aerial lifts, employers must ensure employees are:

  • trained;
  • authorized;
  • setting brakes and using outriggers;
  • not exceeding boom and basket limits;
  • using personal fall protection when required; and
  • not using devices such as ladders, stilts, or step stools to raise the employee above the basket.

In addition, manufacturers or the equivalent must certify, in writing, all modifications to aerial lifts.  

Material and Personnel

The employer shall comply with the manufacturer’s specifications and limitations on all material. Rated load capacities, recommended operating speeds, and special hazard warnings or instructions shall be posted on cars and platforms.

Hoistway entrances of material hoists shall be protected by substantial full width gates or bars that are painted with diagonal contrasting colors such as black and yellow stripes. Hoistway doors or gates of personnel hoist shall be not less than 6 feet 6 inches (198.1 meters) high and shall be protected with mechanical locks that cannot be operated from the landing side and that are accessible only to persons on the car.

Overhead protective coverings shall be provided on the top of the hoist cage or platform.

Republished from Marine Construction Magazine Issue V, 2021


The original article can be found at: Marine Construction Magazine