Safer Handling with Electric Chain Hoists
Electric chain hoists have been mass produced since the early 1900s to lift and lower items in industrial facilities. Even for a relatively low-weight item, say 10 pounds, it is beneficial to use a hoist to prevent operator fatigue if the lifting process is done 50 times per hour during an 8-hour shift, noted Brian Stephens, senior product manager, modular cranes and drives, for MHI Member Demag Cranes and Components Corp.
“Companies with more progressive and stringent ergonomic standards require the use of a lifting device for loads as light as 20 pounds or even less,” said David Butwid, vice president of sales and marketing for MHI member Gorbel® Inc. “As a general rule any load over 51 pounds should not be lifted by a single worker without a lifting device.” The Cal/OSHA Division of Occupational Safety and Health, California Department of Industrial Relations and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offer guidelines for determining whether manual material handling can be safely used or if a mechanical lifting device, like a hoist, is recommended.
Maximum capacity for electric chain hoists is typically determined by the manufacturer, with the majority of chain hoist units sold in the 2 ton and less range. Above 5 tons, wire rope hoists, which can lift very heavy loads, are more generally used.