Building projects depend on machinery of all kinds to allow construction to take place effectively. Whether the focus is raising foundations or demolishing an old structure, heavy duty tools are required to work on these jobs. Cranes, bulldozers, diggers and drills are all used to complete a range of tasks, where each of these needs to be properly handled by a trained professional.
Safety is incredibly important on a construction site, especially when heavy machinery and hazardous materials are involved. Strict safety legislation must be followed at all times, where staff training and proper handling guidance must always be implemented with care. Part of this includes proper load testing for cranes and other lifting equipment, an assessment which checks the strength capabilities of heavy machinery.
Read on to find out more about load testing, with a look at how the process works and why it’s so important for safe working conditions.
What Is Crane Testing?
Crane or load testing is a method of checking the strength of lifting equipment, where this allows operators to fully understand the limits of their machinery. This test is carried out by placing a proof or testing load onto the crane to verify its lifting capability.
Usually this proof load weighs 25% more than the official Safe Working Load figure that has been attributed to the equipment in question. A trained operator will then be able to inspect the crane to make sure that all of its components are functioning correctly.
Load testing requires an understanding of a crane’s Working Load Limit (WLL) and Safe Working Load (SWL). Working Load Limit refers to the maximum load a crane is designed to be able to lift, detailed by the crane’s manufacturer. This figure refers to the crane’s total lifting capacity in optimum conditions, not accounting for any real world resistance.
Safe Working Load can then be calculated by dividing the crane’s Working Load Limit by its Dynamic Amplification Factor (DAF). This factor refers to the effects of exposure and resistance on the crane when it is in use. As such the Safe Working Load will describe how much the equipment can lift without fear of breaking or endangering the operator.
When Should Load Testing Occur?
There are a number of contexts in which an official load test should be carried out, where all machinery operators should be mindful of proper equipment handling procedures. Various motivations for testing may include:
Newly Manufactured Equipment - All lifting equipment should undergo an initial safety test when it is first released by the manufacturer, so that new operators can understand the capabilities of their machinery. This will be the baseline against which all future tests can be compared, allowing operators to note any decline in performance.
Newly Installed Equipment - When lifting equipment first arrives at a construction site it should undergo an additional load test, so that an up to date lifting limit can be established. This allows site operators to obtain their own load testing results, which may differ slightly from the manufacturer’s estimates.
Following Repairs & Part Replacements - Repair work can impact the lifting capabilities of equipment, meaning that a new load test should be carried out once the machinery has been restored. These tests should indicate if the machinery has been restored to its previous performance level or if usage adjustments need to be made.
Following A Safety Incident - As part of safety proceedings following an incident on site, lifting equipment should undergo a thorough load test before it can be restored to regular use. This is to ensure that prior accidents won’t be repeated, where it is important to check that the machinery has been properly repaired or restored. Some machinery may fail a load test at this stage, meaning it should be decommissioned with immediate effect.
Regular Testing Intervals - If your equipment has remained in good condition, then it is still essential to carry out a load test at regular intervals, preferably each year at a minimum. This helps you to spot any malfunctions or problems before they can become more serious. As such it is important not to wait until a refurbishment or service to carry out a load check, but to schedule a test at regular intervals.
Why Is Load Testing Important?
Regular and in-depth load testing is vital for the safe operation of lifting equipment on a construction site. There are numerous reasons why this kind of test is so important, where some of these considerations are discussed below:
Uncover Functional Errors
When it comes to taking care of heavy lifting equipment, it is important to be on the lookout for a range of functional issues. Sometimes these can only be spotted when a crane is put under stress, where a trained inspector will notice any potential problems with the machine’s components. This can allow the operational team to better understand the needs and limits of their equipment.
Protect Machinery Operators
One of the main reasons why load testing is so important is that it protects on site staff from faulty equipment. If lifting machinery goes untested for long periods, then this can increase the risk of breakages caused by trying to lift loads beyond the capacity of the machinery. When lifting large loads at height this can be especially dangerous, where this kind of situation should be avoided at all costs.
Health & Safety Compliance
Load testing must also be carried out to comply with British and European safety standards, where it is recommended that machinery is checked at least every 6 to 12 months. It is also a requirement of Provincial Labour laws and UK Health & Safety acts that rigging and lifting equipment undergoes regular, in-depth inspections by a certified professional. All of these checks need to be properly reported and documented, where a failure to do so could affect insurance premiums further down the line.
Load testing is an important form of preventative maintenance when it comes to taking care of lifting equipment on a construction site. If these tests are carried out on a regular basis, then they can be used to spot small malfunctions before they develop into potentially dangerous and expensive problems. This kind of preventative care can also help site operators to prepare ahead of time for machinery replacements.
Safety compliance for lifting equipment involves the undertaking of a thorough examination by a competent person, where this means that a trained professional has to carefully overhaul a piece of machinery before it is deemed safe to use. Completing a load test can form part of this examination, where this can be followed by the submission of an in depth report on the performance of the equipment. All of this helps to keep machinery operators safe whilst managing maintenance costs.
Load testing can also help your site to streamline its lifting operations, in addition to making sure that all machinery is safe to use. The results of your load test could indicate that your equipment is not being handled efficiently or that various components require more regular servicing, all of which can help you to manage costs and speed up your build timeline.
Crane & Lifting Services: Professional Proof Load Testing For Your Worksite
At Crane & Lifting Services, we’re fully equipped to load test your lifting equipment to help keep your operations running smoothly. Our expert crane engineers are skilled at assessing machinery performance, whilst our quality load and stress testing equipment is designed to provide you with accurate, in depth results.
In addition to proof load testing, we can provide an array of additional equipment to ensure that your site is functioning safely. Our range includes a wide selection of accessories to support work at height, including harness anchor points and fall arrest systems. Your safety is our priority, which is why all our equipment is manufactured and tested to the highest standards.
Beyond this, we can also install, maintain and repair your lifting equipment, whether you’re working with a dockside crane or heavy duty hoist. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our full range of services.