Chain Inspections

Chain Inspections

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Join HSI Chief Safety Officer Jill James as she visits environmental health and safety professionals in their workplaces to explore important workplace safety topics. This video covers what chains are used for, how to inspect them, and inspection tags.

Video Transcript:

Hi, I'm Jill, Chief Safety Officer with HSI. I'm a former OSHA inspector and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace safety hazards. For this series we're at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in the heart of the upper Midwest to show you no matter where you work safety training is for everyone.

Hello. We're here today to talk about chains and chain inspections and hoist inspections. With me I have Ryan. Ryan is a heavy equipment operator and heavy equipment trainer here at the Beet Sugar Cooperative. For an example today we have a chain hoist and chain. Ryan can you tell us, what do you use chains for here at the Beet Sugar Cooperative?

Basically whenever we're trying to rig, to lift anything from equipment, or hook up a chain hoist, come along for example to pick a load up off the ground, elevate it, elevate a pump to install, whatnot, various different projects we may use it for.

So you have lots of chains, lots of hoists, lots of come alongs in the facility.


And this is called a come along.


Could you take us through when you do an inspection, which actually OSHA requires every employer to do inspections on their chains-


How do you do it? How do you go through it? Can you walk us through the steps?

Basically when one of these would be returned to the shop I'm going to start at the top, so basically you start at the hook. You would check, make sure your safety latch is in good working order and it springs back. Then-

And you make sure your hook isn't distorted or bent. Is that correct?

Correct, or twisted.


Normally you can judge that also by the length of the safety latch. You'll note it. Then once you look at that you just do an overview of the body of the come along itself, look for cracks or any big dents, anything like that. You could also then just see how freely it runs through by pulling on either chain with the knobs in the neutral position. That's normally what you would do to inspect it.

So you would pull it all the way through to make sure it's not getting stuck somewhere.

Not all the way, but you would just make sure that it's free to go back and forth.

Running smoothly, okay.

Yup. Then with your chain you're just going to inspect the chain for any say welding spatter, deformities, twists, check in between the links themselves for wear.

So you're looking at each individual link as you're looking.

Yup. Then once you get to the end, down on this end you have the end ring. Typically when we get these in we document serial numbers and the number of the come along that we're going to give it with a tag. With the tag then this also gives your weight limit of the piece of equipment that you can use.

So like this is a three-quarter ton, it's marked on here.


So the chain has to be matching the capacity right?

Yes, and that tag will verify that.


Then we just attach it to this here ring. Then it's documented on a system we have in our computer. We document and annually we do a full inspection on it. Then we do the frequent inspections as it's getting used. If you go to other end of the chain, then we just have to continue on with that. When you get down to this end of the chain you're going to want to look at the hook, any cracks, bends, deformities. Then your safety latch of course again, make sure that it springs back. Any loose bolts, anything like that. Then you want to make sure that your chain is lubricated.

What sort of information is on the inspection tag?

The inspection tag has the weight limit of the piece of equipment, whether you're using it as a choker or just a regular lift.

So you know what the weight limit is if you're using it as a choker. Describe, what does choker mean?

Well just depending on which angles your chain is at or your straps are because different angles will decrease or increase your load capacity.

So the operator can look at the tag and say okay if I'm going to do, if I'm using it as a choker, then my weight capacity is this, and if I'm using it for this application, then my weight capacity.


And that's stamped right into the inspection tag?

Yup. Each tag is individually stamped. Then it also has a serial number to match the piece of equipment that it's on and sometimes we'll put the length of the chain. That way people have the idea of how long of a lift they could possibly make.

Make with it.


Wonderful. So you're doing a lot of chain inspections on an annual basis. When you do it once a year, do you do all of them at the same time, or do you parse it out over the year?

As they cycle through.

As they cycle through, sure.

Yup. Not always are they in the one location. They get out and about. Then we just continuously when one comes in, go on the computer to check to see if it's been annually inspected or not. Here at Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar we also put a different color zip tie on it each year so you have an indicator of which year-

When it was-

It was inspected, or the most recent inspection.

That's a good tip.

Yup. That way you can continuously know if one does come back and it hasn't been, you're not using the same color, then you know that it has to be a more in detail inspection.

Right. It's time for its annual inspection.


Yeah, right. Very good. Thank you Ryan. Really appreciate it.

Yes. You're welcome.

Remember, if you haven't done your annual or periodic chain inspections, it's time to get them started now. Hopefully some of the tips Ryan shared with you today will help you get started on your way to doing your chain inspections.

I hope you gained a safety skill today. If you know someone who needs this, go ahead and pass it on. Safety is everyone's business.

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