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A Guide to Testing and Inspections

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the work place, including major construction sites, regarding the legal requirements for the inspection and/or testing of lifting equipment, which includes lifting machines (LM), lifting tackle (LT) and fabricated equipment (FE), also known as non fixed lifting attachments.

In an effort to provide guidance to users, inspectors, safety and management staff on this issue, we hereby submit the following information. It must be stressed that the information supplied is the writer’s opinion and provided without any malice or prejudice towards any manufacturer, supplier, user or services provider.

It must also be noted that a new updated Draft DMR has been published by the DOL under GNR. 163 in Government Gazette #34052 of March 4, 2011 for public comment. The writer has been involved in providing suggestions for modifications to this Draft,  through serving on a LEEASA working committee, and these proposals have been submitted, through LEEASA to the DOL in the appropriate manner.

It is the writer’s personal opinion that the new DMR will only come into practice by mid 2012 or even later, and would differ in content from the proposed one. The contents of the current Draft should not be interpreted as the final DMR.

As a start, it is common knowledge that all lifting machines, which are classified according to Codes in Appendix 12 of the OHS Act, DMR, NCOP and which have been identified and confirmed by ECSA, must be load tested (performance tested) at intervals not exceeding 12 months, by a DOL registered LME and the load test must be conducted, or be supervised by an ECSA registered LMI. The LMI would have been assessed and been found competent by ECSA, to test only the types of machines that he has been registered for, a LMI.

Note that ECSA do not print the scope of competence of the LMI certificate and the only method for the user to establish whether this LMI is competent to load test a specific category of machine, is to request a copy of his ECSA letter of confirmation of registration letter which reflects the scope of competence.

Note: Mines could urge that they are not bound by OHS Act Regulations, but it is good practice and most mines are increasingly insisting on LME and LMI services.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions around this issue.

Who is a Competent Person to conduct thorough examinations, as well as inspections of Lifting Machines?

As there is no definition for a Competent Person (CP) in the DMR, one should consider the definition of a CP as it is specified in the Construction Regulations as these were published in 2003 and have since been updated, rather than compared the DMR which was published in 1993. No recent updates have mentioned the definition for a CP other than the requirements for an LMI.

It is clear that the LMI has to conduct, or supervise the periodic actual load testing of lifting machines, but it is not clear whether the 6 monthly thorough examinations have to be conducted by a LMI.

The Draft DMR mentions a “person with knowledge and experience…..” and therefore would imply that, in future, you would not have to be a LMI to do these thorough examinations.

Comment: Wait for the new DMR definitions, but at least appoint someone in writing, with the necessary back ground, experience and training to conduct these thorough examinations, according to SANS standards and properly prepared check list, without stripping or disassembling the machine.

Must a lifting tackle inspector (LTI) be a LMI?

The answer is no.

It must be stressed that a LTI does not have to be a registered LMI. This has been regulated in GNR.257 of 7 March 2008, as there were LMI’s claiming that to inspect LT, you had to be a LMI.

The purpose and reason appointing LMI’s is to conduct lifting machine load testing only, although they have to be qualified or competent to inspect lifting tackle as well. Their main function is to test, or supervise testing of lifting machines, for which they are registered for by ECSA.

This issue was cleared up by government notice No: GRN 257 of the 7th of March 2008; “This registration does not apply to persons who examine lifting tackles in terms of regulation 18(10)(e) of the Driven Machinery Regulations.”

Their scope is stated in their LMI confirmation of registration letter.

Who can inspect lifting tackle?

Lifting tackle has to be inspected, at least every 3 months by a LTI who should keep a register of these inspections on site.

This is a specific requirement in terms of DMR 18.10(e). It must be noted that inspections can be conducted at more frequently intervals if so required by the user. No specific inspection periods are specified in the MHS Act, Chapter 8 Regulations and mines have to specify in their COP inspection methods and periods, inspector qualifications etc.

Persons who inspect LT are suitably qualified persons, who by virtue of their experience and training, are appointed in writing, by their employer to do.

There is currently no DOL requirement to register LTI’s, although this is anticipated in future. Nothing has changed and these inspections can be conducted by in-house appointed LTI’s or contracted service providers, obviously at a cost to the user.

If the user is using a service provider to conduct these inspections, the user should insist on the contractor’s staff providing proof of training and experience, and that they have been appointed, in writing, by their employer.

Must lifting tackle be subjected to annual load testing?

The answer is an emphatic NO.

Over the last few years this practice has become popular, mostly as a result of the user’s ignorance due to lack of training, as well as service providers who provide this service for commercial reasons only and therefore promote it.

It must be stated that the manufacturers of chain, wire rope and webbing, are totally against this practice as:

  1. It is not a legal requirement in terms of OHS, ACT DMR 18(10) to conduct periodic load testing on slings.
  2. It can be detrimental to the service life of a sling or component as it can develop a “weak spot” or defect in the sling that could cause it to fail later on, under repeated loading. For example, to subject a sling with a WLL of 5 ton, that is 5 years old, to a static test loads of 10 ton, which is equal to 100% overload, can be detrimental or damaging the sling such as hooks and coupling links etc.
  3. All manufacturers specify a WLL for the size and type of sling supplied. This WLL is specified in the Standard (such as a SANS) to which the sling or product is made. The Standard as well as the manufacturer will state that the sling must not be subjected to a load in excess of this WLL.

Once again, I f you are testing the sling to a load above the stated WLL, normally 100%, you are contravening the manufacturer’s specification and are therefore, by implication, contriving legal requirements.

If it can be proved by the manufacturer of a sling that it was proof load tested in excess of the WLL, and it fails later in service, any claim against the manufacturer, by the user maybe repudiated.

  1. Although not specifically stated in the DMR, but stated in the MHS Act, it is illegal to overload a sling in use and therefore it would be illegal to proof load test a sling to a load above the WLL. It is also relevant to take cognizance of OHS Act Section 1 5 “Duty not to interfere with, damage or miss-use things” when load testing slings in use WLL of the sling.
  2. Also for practical purposes, to proof load a sling with say a FOS of 7:1, such as a webbing sling, you are not proving anything if the sling complies with SANS 94/EN 1492, and you test a 2 ton sling to a 4 tons. This sling should not fail at less than 14 tons if it is legally compliant. Evan a poor quality 2 ton sling should withstand a proof load of 4 tons.

What type of certificates must be supplied with LT?

The word “Test Certificate” does not appear in the DMR. It is common practice, and the user should insist that suppliers issue Certificates of Test and or Certificates of Conformance to a specific quality manufacturing Standard, when purchasing lifting tackle.

A Certificate of Test must state the actual test load, the date of the test and other relevant details, whereas a Certificate of Conformance must state the Standard, such as SANS, DIN, EN etc. to which the product has been manufactured. This certificate is regarded as the “birth certificate” of the sling and must be kept on record till the sling is scrapped, after which the certificate can also be cancelled.

Slings must be marked with the relevant certificate number, or brand name of the manufacturer, for traceability back to the supplier.

The rule of thumb is “where does is come from and what can it lift?” if a sling is not marked with this information, do not use it!

It is also important that users have a written scrapping procedure that specifies the steps to take when scrapping LT, which must include cancelling the suppliers certificate, as the sling is no longer in service.

Lastly, it must be noted that companies which supply Lifting Tackle, or are manufacturers appointed distributors, do not have to be registered as LME’s if these companies are only suppliers and do not conduct repairs or load testing of lifting machines.

What are the requirements for Spreader and Lifting Beams?

Once again there is a lot of confusion as the as to the difference between these two products and this has been a grey area for various reasons.

A spreader beam is a strut under compression that spreads the twoo legs of a sling, and the spreader itself does not carry the load, whereas a loose lifting beam actually carries the load, and the beam is under tension and subject to bending and twisting forces. A lifting beam is normally suspended from the crane hook with a two leg sling, or attached directly to the crane hook in the centre of the beam through a lug on the beam, or attached with a shackle.

A typical example of a spreader is a two leg sling with a pipe that has been inserted between the legs of the sling to spread the legs of the sling and thereby reduce any angle loading.

A lifting beam must be strong enough in construction to actually carry the load which is suspected from the beam itself.

These two products must also not be confused with a permanently installed overhead runway beam to which a hoist is attached with a trolley or crawl.

The word lifting beam does not appear in the DMR, but the definition of lifting tackle includes “spreaders or similar appliances”.

The new Draft DMR lifting tackle definitions include “lifting or spreader beams, tongs, ladles, coil lifters, plate lifting clamps, drum lifting clamps…”.

These products are not lifting machines and therefore are not subject to annual or periodic load testing. It is however the prerogative of the user to insist on load testing, if he so wishes and this load test applied should not be in excess of 10% overload.

Visual inspections on loose lifting and spreader beams should be conducted in accordance with proper inspection check lists.

Comment: Wait for the updated LT and LM definitions when the new DMR is published.

What is the relevance of SANS or other Quality Standards?

It must be noted that no lifting equipment SANS or other Standards are currently incorporated in the DMR and therefore not mandatory or legally binding. The new DMR will incorporate a list of SANS and possibly other International Standards which will then become mandatory. This should end the current confusion caused by the SABS creating Standards for industry and the DOL, who are responsible for implementing these Standards, as the Standards will then become mandatory, and the DOL can become pro active.

However, current DMR 18.10(a) states that all lifting tackle must be constructed in accordance with a “generally accepted technical standard” and therefore, by implication again, the user will only use LT that complies to existing SANS or other technical standards.

Proof of quality must be supplied in the form of a Certificate of Conformance to a Standard, issued by the Supplier and or Manufacturer.

The MHS Act specifies compliance to “an appropriate standard” which does not necessarily have to be a SANS, but can be DIN, ISO, EN etc.

What other issues are often misinterpreted?

  1. Must slings be color coded?

This is not a legal requirement but can be stipulated in a company COP.

It is important to note that a sling is not always safe to use, simply because it is color coded, and operators should be trained accordingly.

Also not that if this is a company requirement, the company will be audited accordingly and if not properly done, a finding can be recorded during an audit. Proper charts must be placed in the workplace etc.

The practice of using paint is no longer recommended as repeated coats of paint can cover defects. Furthermore, paint is messy, does not last and can be confusing when different colors are applied on a component.

Cable ties, polyurethane or colored washers etc. can also be used.

  1. Must sling hooks be fitted with safety latches?

This is also not a legal requirement but, once again can be insisted upon in a company COP.

Certain hooks, such as foundry and grab hooks are not designed to be fitted with latches and these hooks fully comply with international quality standards.

Note that hoists, which include chain blocks, lever and electric hoists, must be fitted with latches, top and bottom as per the Standard to which these units are manufactured.

Even crane hooks do not have to be fitted with latches as DMR 18.4 specifies that hooks shall be so designed “prevent accidental disconnection of the load under working conditions cannot take place”

  1. Must sling hooks be pop marked?

This practice is also not a legal requirement for sling hooks but recommended for crane hooks. Sling hooks can be damaged as a result of incorrect methods of marking and the manufacturer will dispute any subsequent claim for damage etc.

  1. What marking should be on Shackles?

Shackles should be marked with the WLL, size as well as either a traceable manufacturer’s symbol or brand name. Shackles could also be stamped with a number of the corresponding supplier’s certificate.


The practice of using paint is no longer recommended as repeated coats of paint can cover defects.

Once again, if the shackle fails, a supplier can dispute that they supplied the particular shackle, unless the shackle can be traced back to them.

To conclude, it must be stressed that the above information supplied is  the writer’s opinion only and should not be construed as legal advice or legally binding, but as a guide to promote lifting equipment safety in the work place.


[Written by PHAKAMISA – Lifting Guide 2012]