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Essentials of Safety: Overhead Hoist Inspections

Overhead hoists are workhorses in many different industries. They operate with chains or wire ropes and can be controlled manually, electronically, or with air power. These hoists can be a critical part of production lines and the daily movement of materials and finished goods. But even though they are such a critical part of the daily work in many industries overhead hoists are often neglected when it comes to inspection and maintenance. In many places they don’t get any significant attention until they stop working properly and that creates dangerous situations and expensive downtime for many businesses.


Hoosier Crane has always been and will always be very safety conscious. The backbone of our business is service, and we provide inspections of all equipment, including overhead hoists. OSHA has some general industry testing and inspection standards for overhead hoists in standard 29 CFR 1910.179, which addresses overhead and gantry cranes. Other general requirements can be found in construction standard 1926.554. The standard that most specifically addresses the requirements of overhead hoists is an ASME/ANSI consensus standard, B30.16 for overhead hoists (underhung). This standard is part of the B30 series of standards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) on cableways, cranes, derricks, hoists, hooks, jacks and slings. You can purchase the complete standard directly from ASME. The standards outlined are the ones we use at Hoosier Crane for our regular maintenance and inspection efforts.

The following are some general requirements listed by OSHA for the operation and inspection of overhead hoists.

The safe working load of the overhead hoist, as determined by the manufacturer, shall be indicated on the hoist, and this safe working load shall not be exceeded.

The supporting structure to which the hoist is attached shall have a safe working load equal to that of the hoist.

The support shall be arranged to provide for free movement of the hoist and shall not restrict the hoist from lining itself up with the load.

The hoist shall be installed only in locations that will permit the operator to stand clear of the load at all times.

Air hoists shall be connected to an air supply of sufficient capacity and pressure to safely operate the hoist. All air hoses supplying air shall be positively connected to prevent their becoming disconnected during use.

Here are some basic definitions and requirements from the ASME/ANSI B30.16 for overhead hoists (underhung)


 Avoid conditions that are unfavorable, harmful or detrimental to the operation of a hoist, such as excessively high or low ambient temperatures, exposure to weather, corrosive fumes, dust-laden or moisture-laden atmospheres and hazardous locations.

Heavy service: Service that involves operation within the rated load limit, which exceeds normal service.

Normal service: Service that involves operation with randomly distributed loads within the rated load limit or uniform loads less than 65% of the rated load for not more than 15% of the time for manually operated hoists and 25% of the time for electric or air-powered hoists.

Severe service: Service that involves normal or heavy service with abnormal operating conditions.

Designated person: A person selected or assigned by the employer or the employer's representative as to perform specific duties.

A designated person should inspect hoists before their initial use and on regular intervals to verify compliance with ASME/ANSI B30.16. The interval between inspections depends on the service of the hoist. The owner's manual specific to the hoist is another good source for inspection and maintenance requirements and should be based on the requirements of this standard.