November 1, 2009 - At one time it was common practice to carry out ab overload test as part of a crane or aerial lifts routine thorough inspections. Current thinking is increasingly ruling out such tests, although some safety inspectors and contractors still insist on such them being carried out.
The argument is that regular overload testing proves nothing but can lead to an acceleration of fatigue in the cranes or lifts structure, resulting in a later accident or failure. There is some argument for cycling an aerial lift with full capacity, rather than an overload, although the benefits are questionable, and the counter argument says that it is better to conduct a really thorough inspection of all structural risk points.
In the UK many contractors still demand to see evidence of a four year overload test, which many have though to be mandatory requirement. In reality it is not an actual requirement unless the inspector carrying out the major thorough examination insists that one is carried out.
With modern overload systems and data-loggers recording all of the cranes work duties, it is much easier to spot any incidents that might have caused excessive structural stress leading to a weakening of the machines structure. The amount of times a crane is used at or near to maximum capacity, the number of overloads and the working environment are all better indicators of a crane or lifts likely structural integrity than an overload test which can cause the very problems it is looking to test.
A controlled overload test on a new machine before it leaves the manufacturer is quite different and probably still a good idea to ensure that the unit has been properly assembled and that welds etc are all up to scratch. The same can be said of tests after major structural repairs. It is still a bit of blunt instrument but there is strong logic for doing it.
On the other hand routine overload testing by crane owners is not only ineffective, but might also be used as a substitute for a really good inspection by a knowledgeable and experienced person.
We appear to be sliding into an era where truth and facts are seen as disruptive irritations, not only by outspoken ‘populist’ politicians, but increasingly of large companies and industry associations.
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