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Material Handling, Rigging and Lifting Safety

Handling Hazardous Chemicals and Substances

It’s important for the company to develop a formal Transit Container Code to assist contractors in safe and compliant material handling and shipping. Compliance should be with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) requirements for material handling, cargo operations and lifting equipment.

Material Handling

Use these procedures to assist in handling materials in a safe and less risky environment for workers and equipment:

  • Items shipped offshore that are scheduled to be lifted by a crane should be placed in appropriate containers that have certified rigging pre-installed.
  • If the size of the item is too large to be placed in appropriate containers, make sure the item has approved lifting attachments and certified rigging installed prior to loading.
  • Do not remove the rigging that was used on containers. Rigging should remain with the container and not removed unless it is damaged.

Cargo Loading

When loading cargo:

  • Cargo loaded inside containers for shipment by sea should be secured to prevent any movement during transportation.
  • Be sure that bulky or heavy loads are tied down properly to prevent unsafe movement.
  • Equipment unloaded from supply vessels on the platform should be positioned so that access to the container doors is not blocked.
  • When opening container doors, only open one door at a time and be sure to open them carefully to prevent being injured by loose or falling equipment. Stand to the side of the unopened door.
  • Always have an escape route when positioning and working around containers.


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When using slings:

  • Wire ropes, cable clamps, shackles, sheaves, and thimbles should be inspected prior to each use.
  • Always be sure to use the correct number of cable clamps.
  • When any damage has occurred to wire rope, discard it and replace it.
  • Prior to each job, check the condition of slings and make sure all slings have a permanent inspection tag affixed and certifications available.
  • Always store slings and wire rope in protected areas.

When issuing and using Fiber/Soft Slings:

  • Canvas or manufactured fiber slings are better than wire rope slings when grip is required on small-diameter surfaces or when minimal damage to machined or soft surfaces is required.
  • Fiber or soft slings should be typically used for specific, not general lifting applications.

All workers engaged in material handling should comply with the following:

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  • Always determine the size, weight, and shape of load to be lifted.
  • Consider an alternate means of lifting to determine the use of each sling.
  • Conduct a JSA to determine the correct slings and lifting procedures.

A register for each fiber or soft sling should be maintained on the platform. The register should identify:

  • date the sling entered service
  • identification mark/serial number
  • Safe Working Load (SWL)


On platforms, sisal rope is not recommended for use as it will deteriorate, become brittle, and could break at limits below those expected for the size of rope when it is exposed to the sun.

When using rope:

  • Do not use rope for lifting or securing loads.
  • Rope should only be used as tag lines or securing small lightweight items.

Perforating Guns

A perforating gun is a device fitted with shaped charges or bullets that is lowered to the desired depth in a well and fired to create penetrating holes in casing, cement, and formation.

When perforating guns are being loaded or handled:

  • Barricades should be erected to protect workers from injury.
  • Access to barricaded areas is limited to only authorized persons.
  • Phones and radios may need to be turned off in the area.
  • Never conduct perforating if lightning storms are in the area.
  • Be sure to turn off Cathodic Protection Systems.
  • Warn non-essential workers through the PA system that perforating is being conducted.

Pipe Handling


Follow these lifting policies when handling pipe:

  • Pipe stringing procedures should be discussed with the competent and authorized person prior to the job starting.
  • Two- and three-inch pipes may be placed on sawhorses and stools, however, four-inch pipe and larger should be placed on skids. Any exceptions should be approved by a company representative.
  • Pipe should be tied down to prevent the pipe from shifting when transporting.
  • Avoid standing or walking on pipe.
  • To control the possibility of rolling pipes and to prevent pipe from falling to ground level or striking nearby workers, tiers of pipe should be properly blocked and secured.
  • To prevent a possible crush injury, hands and feet should not be used to position pipe.
  • Walking or working under or near a suspended pipe is forbidden unless the load is fully and properly secured or supported by blocking.
  • Always use tag lines to control suspended loads.

Ergonomics and Manual Lifting

It is important that workers on oil platforms consider the ergonomics of the job. The need to lift and lower heavy objects, twist, overreach, stoop, or overstretch is common on the rig but should be minimized as much as possible.

Most back injuries are caused by ignoring basic safe lifting rules. Back injuries can be prevented by lifting with the legs, not the back.

Follow the guideline below when lifting:

  • Assume a squatting position. Keep the object to be lifted close to the body and raise the object by straightening the legs.
  • Estimate the weight of the object before lifting. If the object is too heavy, be sure to get help.
  • Make sure your footing is secure.
  • Keep the back straight when lifting any object, light or heavy.
  • Take advantage of skids, hoist, bars, jacks, blocking, rollers, or hand trucks when necessary.
  • Never twist when company lifting or lowering an object.
  • Limit what is lifted manually to about 50 lbs.

More information may be found in OSHAcademy Courses 711 and 722.

Lifting Devices

All lifting devices and material hoists should regularly inspected. They should meet BSEE and U.S. Coast Guard requirements and be labeled for maximum lifting capacity.

  • Lifting devices should be operated only by competent/qualified, authorized workers.
  • One worker should be designated as a signalman (flagman).
  • Lifting device operators should take direction from the signalman.
  • Anyone can give the all-stop signal.
  • The operator should determine the weight of the object to be lifted prior to performing a lift.
  • Cables, lifting devices, slings, and wire ropes should be inspected immediately prior to use to make sure they are in proper condition, and positioned to support the weight of the load.
  • Examine the boom angle to make sure it is appropriate for the load and the expected dynamics of the load.
  • Develop form lift plans whenever critical lifts, such as heavy lifts, lifts over process equipment, or lifts involving two cranes, are required.
  • Perform a JSA for lifts where the operator cannot see the load.
  • Make sure that a signalman is properly positioned to signal the lift when the operator cannot see the load.
  • No person should be positioned such that any part of the body is under the load being lifted by a crane, side boom, or other lifting device.
  • Unbalanced loads or lift materials should never be lifted directly above workers.
  • Never use lifting devices to pull loads sideways.

Lifting Devices (Continued)

  • Never leave a suspended load unattended.
  • Leave all the controls in neutral, the brakes locked, and loads lowered to ground level when shutting down a lifting device.
  • Keep loads as close to ground level as possible and use tag lines when hoisting materials.
  • Make sure inspection and maintenance records for each lifting device are available for review by the company representatives.
  • Do not exceed manufacturer safe lifting limits on loads exerted on rigging.
  • Tag rigging equipment for safe working load limit information.
  • Do not use rigging equipment until it is properly tagged or marked with a rating of the equipment for safe workloads.
  • Inspect to verify that running lines of the sling do not contact the shackle bolt.
  • Make sure slings are protected from any cutting edges.
  • Do not shorten legs of a sling using knots and/or bolts.
  • Use shackles to pin the eye of the sling or lifting lugs and do not let pins meet the running part of any sling.
  • Ensure hooks on lifting and rigging equipment have properly functioning safety latches.
  • All of the following conditions should be considered when using cranes, pickers or hoisting equipment:
    • wind velocity
    • temperatures
    • reach or extension of lifting equipment
    • weight of the load including the rigging being used
    • proximity to other workers and equipment

Overhead Work

When completing overhead work:

  • Raise tools and equipment to the overhead work site in a bag or utility belt specifically designed for that purpose.
  • Do not work above other workers unless they are adequately protected by the installation of an overhead barrier.
  • Clearly mark an area when workers could be struck by a falling object. Use barriers, notices, warning lights or other warning devices.
  • Attach drop lanyards to tools to prevent objects from dropping.

Barricades, Flagging, and Signage

When using barricades, flags, or signage:

  • Whenever a temporary hazard exists due to operations or maintenance work, use necessary signs and barricades to warn and protect workers.
  • Ground level barricade devices should be at least 3 feet in height and extend 3 feet past the ends of the hazardous zones.
  • Use flags and descriptive tags to warn workers in work areas.
  • Colored flagging tape can identify worker actions near hazardous areas as follows:
    • Red - ‘Do Not Enter’ – use when falling objects or overhead lifts, etc., create hazards. Entry restricted to authorized workers only.
    • Yellow - ‘caution’ – Use as a warning when a hazard exists in the area. Increased hazard awareness is required.
  • Do not remove flagging tape until the hazard no longer exists and work has been completed.

Swing Rope Transfers

Swing ropes are used to transfer workers from boats to the landing area of the platform. During moderate to heavy seas, using a swing rope can be quite demanding. Be sure to follow all severe weather restriction guidelines.

Follow these guidelines when transferring workers using the swing rope:

  • Deck hands should always be present to perform swing transfers.
  • Unless an authorized person approves, transfers should occur only during daylight hours.
  • Workers should face the boat when it is at a safe position as determined by the Boat Captain.
  • If seas allow the boat to bump the structure, workers should face where the boat is bumping against the offshore structure.
  • Use the correct rope for outboard or inboard swings.
  • Boat or platform landing area lighting must be adequate.

Follow these procedures when transferring:

  • Make sure both hands and arms free.
  • Catch the knotted rope when the boat is at top of a swell.
  • Swing to the structure by pushing off from the boat with your feet.
  • Always keep feet and legs clear of the structure's landing, and do not let the swing rope get between your legs.
  • Wear an appropriate Type I Personal Floatation Device (PFD).
  • Do not carry any items while transferring by swing rope.

Tag Lines

Tag lines play an important part in helping to maneuver, control, and position loads being moved by cranes.

When using tag lines:

  • Never tie or wrap tag lines around the hands or bodies of people using them.
  • Do not make knots at the end of the tag lines.
  • Use the length that is appropriate for the lift.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. Items shipped offshore that are scheduled to be lifted by a crane should be placed in appropriate containers that have _____.

2. All workers engaged in material handling should check the load to determine which of the following?

3. What should workers do when perforating guns are being loaded or handled?

4. When handling pipe, which of the following may be placed on sawhorses and stools?

5. What should workers remember when using tag lines?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.