Where the equipment will be used - consider the environment in which you want to work and the impact on the equipment.
- Is there a need for intrinsic safety?
- Do you need to consider the acidity or other hazardous nature of the atmosphere?
- Are there obstacles to move?
- Are there height or working space restrictions?
- Are there holes in the floor or other changes in ground level?
- Are there wind conditions to be taken into account?
Where there is a flammable atmosphere present or the potential for a flammable atmosphere to occur, consideration must be paid to the type of lifting equipment to ensure that it is intrinsically safe.
If the lifting operation is to take place in an atmosphere that presents dangers to persons working within it, this must be taken into consideration in the risk assessment to ensure that the person is adequately protected. In addition, acidic environments may not only present a risk to persons working in the area, but are likely to corrode the equipment being used. This can similarly occur if using the equipment in outdoor environments. Consult with the competent person conducting the examinations to question the frequency of inspections. More regular checks will need to take place on the lifting equipment if it is used in harsh environments to ensure that it remains fit for use.
Consider the path that needs to be taken and ensure that anything along the route is moved out of the way, so far as is reasonably practicable. Where items cannot be removed, the lift must be planned to avoid the obstacles using a banksman where necessary. Caution must be taken with electrical cables including overhead lines and any other major hazards. Where there is potential for making contact with an electrical hazard, safe isolation of equipment must be considered, the lift carried out so that it is unable to reach the danger zone, or other suitable method.
Ensure that the lifting equipment is suitable to work in the environment that you are working in. Consider any exhaust fumes from the lifting equipment that could build up in the restricted space and consider a safe alternative where necessary.
Holes in the floor or other changes in ground level should be mitigated by use of checker plates or similar covering. These must be sufficient to take the loading of the lifting equipment and the item being lifted. Where the ground is very uneven or prone to flooding, ice or similar, suitable ground preparation should take place prior to placing the lifting equipment on the ground. Suitable selection of equipment must take place, also taking into consideration use of stabilisers or similar where necessary. In severe conditions, the lifting operations should be postponed until circumstances improve.
When working outside, where there could be significant fluctuations in wind speed, monitoring should take place to ensure that the lifting operations are only conducted when the wind is at an acceptable level (using the Beaufort scale) for the equipment being used. Other considerations in relation to working outside must also be considered such as visibility.
The key is to consult with the manufacturer to ensure that the lifting equipment is suitable to be used in the environment if you are unsure.