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OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Rigging


Case Histories

Rigging Accidents

Case History #1

Worker Killed When Struck by Falling Exhaust Stack

Shipyard workers were using a wheel-mounted crane to reposition two exhaust stacks that had been removed from a vessel. The exhaust stacks were being placed close to each other while they were being prepared for sandblasting and painting. The crane operator placed one exhaust stack on its side and leaned the second stack against it while preparing to move the second stack onto its side. The crane operator then slackened the line so that a rigger could reposition the wire rope. As the rigger approached the second stack, the 3-ton exhaust stack fell over and struck the rigger in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Fully understand the sequence of rigging events.
  • Understand the balance point of material.
  • Ensure the drop position is secure.
  • Ensure the lifted item is chocked, if possible.

Case History #2

Worker Killed When Struck by Falling Anchor Chain

A crew was rigging an anchor chain that weighed 29 tons to a 40-ton gantry crane using a 5/8 inch cable. The anchor chain was being lifted in ten 90-foot coils. They were moving the chain from a drydock to a barge for shipping. The load was moved over the barge and the operator was about to lay it down when one of the cables snapped, causing a coil of chain to fall. At the same time a worker was boarding the barge to help the riggers. The falling coil of anchor chain struck the worker on the back and the running chain knocked him into the water. He died as a result of being struck by the falling anchor chain.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Do not work under suspended loads.
  • Ensure that proper equipment is used for the lift. Both the type of equipment and the load capacity of the equipment must be reviewed to provide a safety margin.
  • Ensure that lifting cables are inspected prior to use.
  • Ensure that personnel are not working in the danger zone. In this case, a 90' coil of chain could fall over a wide area.

Case History #3

Worker Injured While Performing Maintenance on a Crane

A worker was removing a damaged load drum, weighing 3,500 pounds, from a crane. He was removing the final bolt from the gear side's pedestal bearing using a brass drift pin in his left hand and a hammer in his right hand. The drum's gear side was secured with rigging, but it still shifted forward. The worker’s left thumb and a portion of left index finger were caught and crushed between the pedestal bearing and another portion of the drum assembly. His left thumb was amputated.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Complete a pre-work plan including hazard assessment, sequence of events and possible danger areas.
  • Ensure that experienced personnel approve removal procedures.
  • Ensure that pinch points have been identified.
  • Secure items when possible.
  • Keep hands and body parts away from pinch points.

Case History #4

Worker Killed When Anchor Falls on Him

A rigging crew was assigned to lay out an anchor chain prior to painting. The 16-ton anchor and chain were placed on a barge with the anchor in a standing position. While the worker was lifting a section of chain, the anchor fell on him and killed him.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Ensure that workers are not working under the load or in the danger zone.
  • Ensure that the anchor is secured to prevent movement.
  • Lay anchor on the deck or in a cradle.

Case History #5

Worker Struck by Object

A rigging crew was working on moving a hull in an assembly area. The hull section was being positioned by a two-crane lift from a horizontal position to a vertical position. The rigging crew was unhooking the rigging shackles from one crane, and installing the eye bolts for the rigging on the second crane. While assembling a nut and bolt on a shackle on the lifting lug of the hull section, the entire unit shifted, catching a worker’s foot under it which resulted in a crushing injury. The injured worker had been assigned as a helper to the rigging crew on the day of the accident.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Complete a pre-work plan which includes a hazard assessment, sequence of events, securing the load and identifying possible danger areas.
  • Ensure that workers are qualified and trained before the start of work.
  • Ensure that each new worker is trained and is properly supervised.
  • Ensure that pinch points are identified.
  • Properly secure cargo.

Case History #6

Worker Injured When Struck by Rolling Beam

Workers were placing support I-beams on straps while preparing to launch a large ship. One worker was assigned to be a lead worker for this task. A forklift was used to position the I-beams which had 24-inch by 36-inch plates welded on each end. After the lead shipwright rigged the sling on one of the beams, he told the workers to clear the area. He jumped off the beam and walked to the west side of it so that the load handler could see him. When he got to the clear area, he saw a worker on the ground. The beam had rolled toward the east, and the corner of the end plate on the beam had struck the fallen worker’s left leg about mid-calf, fracturing his leg.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Complete a pre-work plan which includes hazard assessment, sequence of events and identifying possible danger areas.
  • Establish safety/exclusion zones.
  • Ensure that pinch points are identified.
  • Ensure that lift signal/warning is sounded.
  • Ensure that personnel are not in the area of the lift.

Case History #7

Crane Operator Crushed Between Two Steel Frames When Rigging Failed

The operator of an overhead crane was using a chain sling attached to the hook of the crane and was setting it up into a single choker hitch to pick up and turn over the steel frame that was lying horizontally on two sawhorses. The hook on the sling did not have a safety latch. The operator was standing between the load and another steel frame that was leaning vertically against the shop platform. The chain disconnected from the hook and the vertical steel frame fell towards him. He was crushed between the two steel frames.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Ensure that workers do not place any part of their bodies into areas where they might become trapped when operating an overhead crane.
  • Ensure that the tools and equipment used are regularly inspected for defects and are replaced or repaired as needed.
  • Ensure that workers who use cranes are trained in rigging procedures.
  • Perform daily inspection of cranes using safety checklists to ensure that all equipment is working properly.
  • Ensure that the hook has a working safety latch, and if not, is moused.

Case History #8

Welder Struck by Plate

A welder was working with the ship repair crew which was fitting a new 0.5-inch thick steel plate on the bottom hull of a tanker. The crew was working on an 8-foot by 40-foot plate which would patch the outboard port side between the center line and the bilge. Three chain-falls were used to lift the plate: two, 3-ton capacity chain-falls and one, 1-ton chain-fall. When the plate was raised, it was off by six inches and did not fit up to the hull. The welder began welding a pad eye to the edge of the plate so that a come-along could be attached and allow the plate to be pulled into position. While the welder was welding the pad eye, one of the interior pad eyes failed, resulting in a chain reaction that caused the plate to drop on the welder, crushing him.

Possible ways to prevent this type of accident:

  • Do not work under suspended loads.
  • Complete pre-work plan including hazard assessment, sequence of events and possible danger areas.
  • Use blocks or shoring to support the load while work is being done.
  • Ensure that the lift plan is approved and utilized.
  • Ensure that rigging equipment meets or exceeds requirements of lift and that a safety factor has been built in.
  • Ensure that chain-falls are the same capacity when positioning loads.
  • Ensure that the pad eyes are the appropriate size for their intended use and that the pad eyes are welded, not tack welded.

C-20 - C-24

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