Friday, March 12, 2010

Overhead Material Handling Regulations

In my years of being in the crane industry it has always struck me at how uninformed businesses are of OSHA overhead material handling regulations. Companies with spend thousands of dollars even millions to invest in material handling equipment. Then once installed and in use they are forgotten until they start having problems. Their system may go a year or it may go 10 years without any problem. Then the one time is does they are amazed at how this piece of equipment just stopped working. It is a forgotten assett because by most it is unseen high up on the building steel where no one looks up. Like any machine it needs to be take care of and maintained. If you buy a car or a truck you maintain it at least every 3,000 miles or 5,000 miles depending on the usage. Obviously you do this for two reasons. One, you want to get the most out of your vehicle, and two, it is suggested by the manufacturer to do so. If you don't your guaranteed to have problems in the future. The same goes for overhead cranes. If you do not take care of them they will wear out and equipment will breakdown. Overhead cranes and hoists all have gearboxes with oil or grease. They need to be changed periodically. They have wire ropes that require replacement from being stretched or broken wires that are not always easily seen. The wheels will wear over time running back and forth on the crane rail. The electrical components will eventually wear as well. That is why it is so important to periodically perform preventive maintenance and inspections of the crane and hoists components. Spare parts are not always easy to come by either. Your crane may go down and you will not be able to get the part you need for weeks or even months. This could drastically reduce your plant or shops production. To keep them maintained so you reduce the chance of this happening inspections need to be performed. Not only will it reduce your equipments down time it is the law. According to OSHA spec 1910.179, Complete inspections of the crane shall be performed at intervals... depending upon activity, severity of service, and environment...any deficiencies shall be carefully examined and determination made as to whether they constitute a safety hazard. Note that is inspection that is required by OSHA needs to be provided by someone other than a company employee. It is suggested that you use a company that provides these services for your company. OSHA also requires companies to have a program for preventive maintenance that coincides with the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule (OSHA 1910.179 L1). This of course does not have to be performed by the manufacturer but by a qualified personel. Not only does OSHA require you to do this, they also require the operators or inspector to perform Monthly chain, wire rope, and hook inspections. This requirement you can find in OSHA 1910.179-J2 (iii & iv). Peforming all of these will not only keep you up to the OSHA regulations but it will also keep your equipment running smooth eliminating unwanted service calls and expensive repairs to your equipment. Maintaining your equipment is key to keeping production going in your plant. If your material handling equipment is not maintained then you are increasing your chances for production loss or even heavy fines from OSHA. I am here to help you sort this out, and get your company on the right track to keeping your equipment maintained and OSHA compliant. Please feel free to respond with any comments or questions. If I don't know the answer I will find the answer.

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