Understand The Basics Of Load Test Requirements

A load test is performed to verify that a specific crane or hoist will safely perform all of its functions while supporting a test load whose weight is at least equal to the equipment’s rated capacity. Because load tests confirm the ability of the crane and hoist to safely operate as intended, they must be completed whenever this overhead lifting equipment is newly installed, altered, repaired, or modified before being placed into service. Existing crane and hoist systems should likewise be load tested at a minimum of once every four years.

The test load used must be at least 100% and no more than 125% of the equipment’s rated capacity unless otherwise recommended by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The weight itself should be certified prior to testing. Load tests should be dynamic, that is they confirm that the overhead crane and hoist function safely and properly as they move to lift and lower the test load, as well as transport it over the length of the bridge and of the runway. All findings and reports should be kept on file for the lifetime of the equipment.

As part of the load test process, both a pre-operational inspection and a periodic inspection should be conducted:

  • The pre-operational check assesses the equipment to identify any deficiencies or damage that may impact either the safe operation of the crane and hoist, or affect the load test results. Key areas for evaluation include confirming that the crane or hoist has not been tagged with an out-of-order sign; that all motions align with control device markings; that the hook and latch are not damaged or deformed and work properly; that the wire rope is not broken, kinked, or improperly wound; that the load chain is not worn, stretched, twisted or distorted; that travel limits and hoist limit switches function properly; and that there are no unusual sounds detected.
  • The periodic inspection, which should be performed after the load test is complete, is a highly detailed evaluation of the equipment. It includes a comprehensive examination of structural and mechanical components. Reviewed are all girders, end trucks, foot walks, handrails, trolley frames, and cabs. Further, inspection for wear, cracks, or other damage is performed on brakes, shafts, axles, wheels, couplings, sheaves and drums, transmission components, runway structures, and below-the-hook devices. The inspector examines electrical components, indicators, gages, connection points, the trolley and runway rail, bumpers and end stops, covers and guards, and all self-contained electric, hydraulic or gasoline powered generating units.

Because they are so critical to the safe operation of overhead cranes and hoists, there are several standards and specifications that detail load test requirements. These include:

Want to learn more about overhead lifting safety? The three members of the Overhead Alliance — the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), Hoist Manufacturers Institute (HMI) and the Monorail Manufacturers Association (MMA) — each offer in-depth resources, standards, specifications, and safety checklists specific to that type of equipment. The three groups recently gained ambassador status with OSHA’s Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance (CHM). Together, they will promote cooperative programs with the federal agency, raising awareness of OSHA’s initiatives, outreach, communication, training, and education. They will also continue to provide information, guidance, and access to training resources that help protect the health and safety of personnel operating hoists, cranes. and monorails.