Heavy vehicle hoists pose specific safety challenges, which differ greatly from those of hoists for lighter vehicles, to product suppliers and operators– but Sulco Limited Business Unit Manager Equipment Division Rob Gosling says both parties have historically shown firm commitment to address these challenges successfully. Auckland-based Sulco is one of the leading suppliers of heavy vehicle lifts to the NZ market and according to Gosling “getting to this position has been an adventure, given the circumstances pertaining to heavy vehicle service”. He says the range of sizes and weights of heavy vehicles and the amount of real estate a truck workshop consumes are obvious safety and practical considerations when workshop plant is acquired, as are the judgement calls hoist operators make on a daily basis. Historically truck workshops have used in ground pit systems, largely due to a lack of options to lift heavy bodies into the air: “But this poses its own risks, with staff walking around or falling into open pits. OSH people have come up with a number of methods to minimise this but some solutions themselves have proved to be obstacles to work safety and efficiency,” he says. The increasing cost of building new pits stimulated an increase in available heavy vehicle lift solutions. However, lifting heavy objects cause great stresses and wear on moving mechanical parts. Comments Gosling: “It’s critical that this type of equipment is of the highest quality in design and component choice. If something fails, it’s going to be a big mess.” He says the majority of heavy vehicle lifts available are portable or mobile columns, an important consideration in view of a heavy equipment workshop’s size requirements. Once the column lift operator has finished the work, they put the column lift away and the workshop area resorts back to flat surface available for other purposes. SULCO Equipment distributes amongst others FINKBEINER column lifts from Germany to the local heavy vehicle lift market. The range uses a self-lubricating hydraulic ram system to minimise wear and the risk of failure. Sulco also distributes a number of 4-post and scissor lift products made by leading United States and European manufacturers. But according to Gosling, regular maintenance is critical to a long product life and safe operation of even the best quality heavy lift equipment. Constant lubrication and inspection of moving parts should reflect operator use and volumes. To do this, the operator must understand the product. Sulco Equipment provides training at point of sale to the nominated operator: “During training, we identify a number of important safe operating practices, covering areas such as vehicle loading and safe lift points. “No two vehicles are the same and consideration must be given to whether the vehicle is loaded or not. Where the vehicle is laden, the operator needs to be aware of the load and weight positioning and identify safe lifting points. For example, can it be lifted without risk of tilting to one side or front to rear? Is the loaded weight of the vehicle within lift capacity? “Fortunately the skill level of the heavy vehicle technician in New Zealand is generally high and the guys working with this type of equipment have an appreciation of the size of the vehicles they work on,” he says. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act) governs and promotes safety in the workplace. The safety requirements and details for both lighter and heavy vehicle hoists are contained in AS/NZS 1418.9:1996, Cranes (including hoists and winches), Part 9, Vehicles Hoists - related to design and construction; and AS/NZS 2550.9: 1996, Cranes - Safe Use, Part 9: Vehicle Hoists - related to safe operation, maintenance, inspection and repair. Penalties exist for breaches of the Act. The Department of Labour (DoL) administers and enforces the HSE Act in automotive workshops.
Hoist safety a weighty issue
Monday, 17 March 2008