New Guide Promotes Safe Lifting in Cargo Handling Applications

A new guide to the safe management of lifting gear in cargo handling applications has been published by ICHCA International and the LEEA (Lifting Equipment Engineers Association). Co-authored by Geoff Holden, chief executive of the LEEA, and Tom Sims, an independent consultant, the ‘Organization of Gear Stores’ aims to help employers ensure that safety-critical lifting equipment such as slings and shackles remain fit for purpose, even in hostile working conditions.


Overhead lifting plays a key role in a host of cargo handling applications, including ports, terminals and on-board ships. However, it remains a significant cause of death and serious injury right around the world. ICHCA International is an independent membership organization dedicated to the promotion of safety and efficiency in the movement of goods and ‘Organization of Gear Stores’, numbered GS#4, is the latest addition to its General Series of best practice guides.

Focusing on simple items of equipment that are used to connect a load to a lifting appliance such as a crane or hoist, the new publication provides a step-by-step, jargon-free guide to creating and managing a safe store system for ‘loose lifting gear’. Key recommendations include: appointing a responsible person to take ownership of loose gear; subjecting all such items to periodic thorough examination by a competent person; proper marking to ensure safe use and identification; providing suitable secure storage conditions; implementing a proper system of issue; inspecting all equipment on return to stores, and ensuring unserviceable equipment is quarantined prior to repair or disposal. Whether an organization has only a small quantity of loose gear or an inventory running to hundreds or thousands of items, their care and maintenance is essential to safe lifting operations. More details of the guide are available from ICHCA International; email:

Established in 1944 and with over 460 member companies worldwide, the LEEA works closely with ICHCA International to support and promote safer use of lifting equipment in cargo handling applications. Commenting on the new guide,Geoff Holden said: “Over recent years we have become increasingly concerned about the number of lifting-related accidents that occur during cargo handling. Maritime environments tend to accelerate the speed with which lifting gear deteriorates and, all too often, this is combined with an unprofessional approach to the management, maintenance and operation of equipment. It is vital that employers recognize the risks inherent in overhead lifting and this guide will provide them with a useful tool for improving standards of safety and efficiency.”

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