Tips for Safely Loading and Unloading Pipes

Pipe Lifting Equipment

Loading and stacking pipes can be tricky business. You’re dealing with heavy products that, because of their shape, can be difficult to secure and handle. There are significant safety risks for those doing the loading, as well as those working nearby. And the work involves specialist pipe lifting, securing and stacking equipment to ensure they are moved and stored safely.

To ensure you get the job done safely and efficiently, here are a few tips for loading and unloading concrete and steel pipes.

Ensure you have the right pipe lifting equipment

The right pipe lifting equipment is essential for moving heavy steel or concrete pipes. Using the incorrect lifting equipment significantly increases the risk of injury. It also increases the risk of damaging the pipe or causing defects or alignment problems. And this can be costly to fix and create major project delays.

Some common pipe lifting equipment includes:

  • Lifting clamps
  • Pipe laying hooks
  • Round Grabs
  • Scissor hooks

Making sure you have the right lifting equipment for the job will ensure worker safety and get the job done efficiently without damaging pipes or nearby equipment.

Whether you’re using a crane, forklift or hoist, you need to make sure that the machinery is load rated for the job. Equipment limits and load charts should always be prominently displayed.

Operators should also be licensed and ticketed for the machinery and cleared to secure and lift the load. This may mean you need licensed crane and forklift operators, riggers and dogmen.

Loading Pipes for Transport

When loading pipes on trucks for transport, there are a number of guidelines you need to follow to ensure the safety of all involved, to ensure the truck is safely loaded and to minimise the risk of damage to the pipes.

  • Supplier load patterns must be followed when loading. For mixed loads, the driver and supplier must work out the best loading pattern secure and restrain the load.
  • All strapping, dunnage and blocking material must be appropriate to the load and regularly inspected to ensure they are in good condition and showing no signs of wear. Anchorage points must also be regularly inspected for condition.
  • All those involved in loading and securing the pipes should wear all necessary personal protective equipment including hard hats, safety glasses, safety boots and high-visibility vests.
  • Prior to loading, the truck must be parked on a level surface that’s easily accessible for all loading equipment. The surrounding environmental conditions should be assessed and any risks (like overhead obstacles or rough ground surfaces) should be noted and factored into the loading plan.

Pipe Lifting Equipment

Pre-transport Checks

In preparation for transport, it’s vital to ensure that all pipes are properly secured. For transport, pipes must be secured with heavy-duty restraining systems that meet the requirements as laid out in the National Transport Commission Load Restraint Guide.

The driver should also have planned and assessed the route to ensure that there are no height, weight or access restrictions or steep inclines or sharp turns that may cause problems for the truck.

The truck should undergo a thorough pre-transport inspection to check that the load is properly balanced and secured and that all tie-downs and anchorage points are secured and in good condition.

Unloading

On arrival at the unloading destination, it’s the driver’s responsibility to identify any concerns with the designated unloading area, assess all risks and, if necessary, determine an alternative unloading area. As with loading, all persons involved should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and the appropriate lifting equipment and machinery should be supplied for the offload.

Prior to unloading, the driver needs to ensure that the load is still properly secured and safe to unload. The driver will determine when it is safe to remove the strapping and whether a forklift or crane should be used as an extra precaution during unstrapping.

Ensure that you have properly cross-braced shelving or racking that’s properly load rated to support the pipes. The safe load capacity of storage systems should be clearly displayed in prominent locations.

Racks or shelves should also be inclined or fitted with stops to prevent round piping from moving and the heaviest items should be stored on the lowest levels.

If storing pipes on the ground, ensure they are properly chocked, banded or secured between structures or bollards to prevent sliding or rolling.

Due to their size and weight, loading and transporting pipes can be complicated and high risk work. Following the appropriate safety procedures will ensure the job gets done efficiently and with the minimal risk to all involved.

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