#YHSafetyTips - Winches

Posted by Ashley Bechtel in #YHSafetyTips, Dec 21, 2016

What is a winch?

A winch is essentially a hoist that is typically meant for horizontal movement. However, there are some winches that are manufactured to lift objects vertically. When using a winch for horizontal lifting, make sure that it clearly stated from the manufacturer that it is approved for use as a hoist. Winches are typically attached to a vehicle meant for off-roading or a tow truck.

What is the difference between a winch and a hoist?

The major difference is the braking systems. Winches are usually made with dynamic brakes that use the gears in the winch for resistance. This will make it unstable for lifting loads as the gears could strip and the load will fall ending in a dangerous situation for all involved. As previously mentioned, some winches are manufactured so that they can also be used as a hoist.

Safe operation of a winch

The following are a few of OSHA’s guidelines on how to properly operate a winch:

  • Guard all areas where something could get caught in the winch
  • All winches need to have clearly identifiable and readily accessible stop controls
  • Portable winches must be secured against accidental shifting while in use
  • Portable winches shall be fitted with limit switches if employees have access to areas from which it is possible to be drawn into the winch

Below are some other guidelines to help ensure you and your employees/coworkers are safe:

  • Winch operators should be qualified and properly trained
  • Focus on the environment and the load
  • Make sure the load never passes near or over workstations or other people
  • Stay clear of moving loads at all times
  • Only a signal person may relay commands to the operator
  • Anyone can give the emergency stop signal to the operator
  • Wear leather gloves to protect your hands
  • Do not use unreliable accessories
  • Do not overload the winch
  • Always inspect equipment for wear or damage prior to use
  • Replace worn or damaged equipment immediately. Using damaged equipment can result in injury
  • Use a pulley block to avoid winching at sharp angles
  • Always apply the load in the throat of the hook, NEVER to the hook tip or latch
  • NEVER put your finger into the hook

Check back next week when we discuss how to keep you and your employees safe when driving company vehicles

Did you miss last weeks post on Cold Stress? If so, click here to read it.

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