Despite the abundance of regulatory standards prohibiting side pulls, they continue to be a common cause of crane and hoist failure, accounting for about 175 injuries and 45 fatalities in the U.S. each year (Ankerich, 2020).
OSHA has prohibited the practice of using cranes and hoists to pull or drag a load sideways since 1971; ANSI crane and hoist standards have had the same prohibitions since at least 1967 for overhead and gantry cranes and since 1968 for crawler, locomotive and truck cranes.
Side pull warning systems and limiting systems are available for some types of hoists and cranes.
This article examines these prohibited practices including circumstances under which they are permitted. It also explores alternative materials handling methods such as the use of a portable gantry crane or an engine hoist to avoid the hazards associated with side pulls.
In 1996, OSHA offered that approximately 120,000 cranes were in operation and more than 250,000 crane operators were at risk of serious and often fatal injury due to incidents involving cranes, derricks, hoists and hoisting accessories (OSHA, 1996). Numerous regulatory and consensus standards, industry safe practice documents, and equipment manufacturers’ technical manuals and user guides caution against or prohibit using a crane or hoist to move an object when the crane and hoisting cables are not directly above the object being moved. These regulations, consensus standards and other documents have provided this prohibition since at least 1971 based on OSHA’s adoption of ANSI B30.2-1967 and ANSI B30.5-1968 for the crane standards. This lifting or placing when the load is not plumb with the hoist is referred to as a side pull or side loading. Side pulls place additional tension on the equipment involved in the lift and can lead to the deterioration or breakage of equipment, causing other complications and workplace hazards. Their highly dangerous maneuvers can lead to serious death or injury as well as property and equipment damage.