Q-A-chat.jpgRod, a Canadian crane services manager and recent safety webinar attendee, asked:

“Is changing a hoist brake a modification?

Tom Reardon, Columbus McKinnon training instructor, responds:

Changing a hoist holding brake is not a modification simply because the brake is being replaced.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines modification as: “a change in something (such as a system or style).”

If we replace a holding brake on a hoist and it is original equipment from the manufacturer of the brake we are replacing and it is identical to the brake we are replacing, this replacement is not a modification. We have not changed the form, fit, function, size, system or style.

If we replace the original brake with a brake that will lend the same characteristics as the old or removed brake but is a different size, shape, bolt pattern, or is not according to the original equipment manufacturer’s specifications, it would be considered a modification.

Want to learn more? View our Safety Webinar on “ASME Safety Standards Top 10 FAQs.”


CMIP Balancer

The CMIP spring balancer was being used to provide support and relief for a horse with a badly injured hoof.

Normally, spring balancers, sold by our Columbus McKinnon’s Industrial Products (CMIP) division in Wuppertal, Germany, are used to relieve operators from the weight of hand tools. By using a tapered rope drum, the weight of the attached load is compensated so that loads up to 200 kg can be moved effortlessly along a vertical axis. Standard applications would include spot-welding guns, riveting machines or multiple-nut runners.

One unique use of CMIP’s spring balancers is a lifesaving application supporting horses. In November, product management in Wuppertal, Germany, received a rather unusual call; a horse clinic needed immediate replacement of the existing spring balancer used at its facility.

The spring balancer was being used to provide support and relief for a horse with a badly injured hoof. The horse was wearing a sort of harness that was hung into one of our spring balancers with a capacity of 170 kgs. However, the horse had a panic attack and destroyed the supporting structure. Without it, the horse could not stand upright on its own, which would have sealed its fate as muscles and circulation have to be stimulated by regular activity.

After a quick call and a 1.5-hour drive, the clinic manager picked up the new balancer in Wuppertal, returned to the clinic and by that evening the horse was able to stand up again, ultimately saving its life. This proves that you really never know where a CMCO product is being used. 

Do you have a unique CM product application story to share?


CM Hand Signal PosterWhen working as a crane operator in a facility or at a jobsite, especially those with lots of traffic, it is crucial to understand and use crane hand signals. As required by OSHA 1926.1400 Cranes and Derricks, these individuals, or signal persons, must know all signals for mobile, tower and overhead cranes and must have a basic understanding of crane operation.

Charts identifying these hand signals must be posted on equipment or noticeably near hoisting operations. If modifications are made to any signals, they must be agreed upon by the crane operator, lift director and signal person and cannot conflict with the standard signals.

Identifying the Signal Person
The lift director at the jobsite has to appoint a qualified signal person before the lift. During crane operation, only one person can give signals, unless it’s for an emergency stop – then anyone on the jobsite can give the signal. Once the qualified signal person is identified, the signal person and the crane operator must identify each other prior to giving any signals.

Signaling the Crane Operator During the Lift
During crane operation, signals should be continuous. If at any time a signal is not understood, is not clear, is disrupted or is not audible, the crane operator must stop movement and not give a response.

When giving signals, all signs should be from the operator’s perspective. So, for example, to designate swing left, the signal person would extend their right arm so the operator would swing left.

In addition to hand signals, voice signals can be used. Voice signals must have three elements:

  • Direction or function
  • Speed or distance
  • Stop command of prior function

For example, a voice command may go something like: “Hoist 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet Stop! Swing right 90 degrees, slowly, slowly, Stop! Lower 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet Stop!

It’s important to note that when communicating with more than one crane, a procedure or system has to be used to identify which crane that the signal is for. This helps avoid confusion on the part of the crane operator, allowing them to easily identify which crane should respond.

Moving the Crane
When the operator moves the crane into position, the following horn or audible sounds shall be used:

  • Stop: One short audible signal
  • Go Ahead: Two short audible signals
  • Back Up: Three short audible signals

These sounds are required to ensure that those not directly involved in controlling or working with the crane are aware of the crane’s movement in the job site.

To see a full list of all hand signals, including explanations and diagrams, click here.

Get hands-on crane operator training. See our full course offering.

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CMCO Distributor, REID Lifting, Proudly Sponsors the World’s Fastest Land Speed Record Attempt

April 14, 2016

The Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) is set to become one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, capable of travelling at speeds over 1,000 mph. Started 8 years ago, the Bloodhound project is attempting to smash the current land speed record of 763 mph by Thrust SSC, the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. When […]

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Hoist Pre-Operational Safety Inspection Part 7: Chain Inspection

April 7, 2016

This article is Part 7 of a 7-part blog series that will cover what operators should consider when performing a pre-operational hoist safety inspection. Today, we’ll discuss chain inspection. The final step in our pre-operational hoist safety inspection should be to check the hoist’s chain. Clean the chain, if required, before inspection. If the chain […]

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Customer Questions the Orientation of Ceiling Mounted Rail System Runway

March 24, 2016

Below is a frequently asked question we receive on ceiling mounted rail systems: “What is the benefit of hanging a ceiling mounted rail system with the runway running parallel versus perpendicular with the steel?” When an application gives you the choice to hang the runway rail underneath (parallel) to the header steel, that is likely the […]

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Hoist Pre-Operational Safety Inspection Part 6: Operation Inspection

March 10, 2016

This article is Part 6 of a 7-part blog series that will cover what operators should consider when performing a pre-operational hoist safety inspection. Today, we’ll discuss operation inspection. When testing the operation of the hoist, it’s important to test the upper and lower limits. A limiting device protects the hoist from getting damaged, from running […]

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Columbus McKinnon Adds Raised Lettering Pads to its Shackles

March 3, 2016

CM shackles, sizes ½” through 1-1/2”, (including alloy, industrial, and Super Strong chain and anchor shackles) now feature a raised pad that allows customers to add their own lettering for identification and tracking. This pad is the approved area for any lettering that customers would like to add to the product. The recommended marking methods are: […]

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The Top 7 Benefits of Using Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to Control Your Crane or Hoist

February 25, 2016

A variable frequency drive, or VFD, is a type of AC motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to it. VFDs are also commonly known as variable speed or adjustable speed drives, AC drives, micro-drives or inverters – depending on the industry or application. In the material handling […]

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Hoist Pre-Operational Safety Inspection Part 5: ASME B30.10 Hook Inspection

February 11, 2016

This article is Part 5 of a 7-part blog series that will cover what operators should consider when performing a pre-operational hoist safety inspection. Today, we’ll discuss ASME B30.10 hook inspection. ASME B30.10 covers hook inspection for all hoists, cranes and rigging hooks. Before operating a hoist, it is important to inspect the hook to […]

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