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.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CAL OSHA Title 8 Article 100 Cranes and Hoist Inspection and Maintenance

When do you inspect your crane? Annually? Quarterly? Monthly? Daily? Answer: all the above. Daily visual inspections by the operator or other qualified person is a must for all crane owners. You can catch most issues in the daily operations check. Any day something can happen to the hoist that you may not even know about wihout doing an inspection. It could be as simple as the safety latch not working properly. Catching this prior to the use of the equipment can be vital in preventing an accident. CAL OSHA also requires you too perform periodic inspections four times a year. The annual inspection is included in the four periodic inspections. So your required to perform your daily inspections, three quarterly inspections, and your annual inspection. Each one being more thorough than the previous. So how do you know if this is even enough for your equipment? Perhaps your equipment is in a factory that runs 24-7. CAL OSHA helps break this down for you as well. If you run your equipment for more than 750 hours between your quarterly inspections than you need to perform a heavier inspection schedule. So if you have a crane that runs 24-7 for seven days a week then you would need to perform a quarterly inspection every month, and an annual inspection every 4 months. When am I required to perform load test on my equipment? Article 99 section 5022 explains that before initial use all new cranes are required to have a proof load test. They are then required to be proof tested every four years. Any major modifications or repairs require a new proof load test. Often I hear from people, I am not going to do an inspection on this unit because we do not use it often or have not used it in a long time. if this is your idea of saving money think again. If you do not use your equipment for 6 months, you are required to perform all test as if it was a brand new unit. therefore you would be required to perform an annual inspection and a proof load test again. If you don't use a piece of equipment for a month you are required to perform a thorough inpspection on the unit prior to use as well. Save money and time by doing your inspections and load test annualy. It will only cost you more down the road.