Construction Depot Newsletter

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

February 13, 2012

forklift with rigging lifting a pole

Free rigging and forklifts

Raise your hand if you’ve attached slings or shackles to the forks of a powered industrial truck for a below-the-forks lift. It’s a common practice, but is it safe? That was a question raised at last week’s monthly meeting of the Construction Advisory Committee.

First, let’s consider a 1999 federal OSHA interpretation that said free rigging – the direct attachment to or placement of rigging equipment such as slings, shackles, and rings onto the forks of a powered industrial truck for a below-the-forks lift – was an “addition and modification” that affected the capacity and safe operation of a forklift. The interpretation quoted paragraph 1910.178(a)(4) from the Powered Industrial Truck standard which said: “modifications and additions which affect the capacity and safe operation shall not be performed by the customer or user without manufacturer’s prior written approval.”

Today, free rigging persists and it’s doubtful that all forklift operators are asking for a manufacturer’s prior written approval before they do below-the-forks lifts. Also, many attachments are now made for powered industrial trucks specifically for below-the-forks lifts.

So, is free rigging safe? Many Construction Advisory Committee members agreed that if a forklift operator complied with all the relevant requirements of the Powered Industrial Truck standard – including using certified and competent operators, keeping the load within the rated capacity of the truck, used extreme caution when tilting the load – then the practice most likely would be safe.

But the discussion doesn’t end here. There’s more to come in the March issue of the Construction Depot.


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