Understanding the Difference between Chain Grades and How They’re Used

Understanding the Difference between Chain Grades and How They’re Used

chain grades
Chain has been around for over a thousand years. It is one of the most versatile and reliable ways to lift, tension and tie down materials in a variety of applications. In the past, people would use any type of chain to lift something, tie down a load or tow a vehicle. Proper inspection, safety procedures and general standards of practice for chain were lacking.

In recent years, due to safety concerns and regulations, the industry has begun to differentiate between various materials and grades of chain and the specific applications they should be used for. ASTM (American Society of Testing & Materials), ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) began to publish safety standards and regulations for the manufacturing, testing, use, inspection and repair of chain.

Chain Grades

One of the safety measures implemented was to place chain in Grades based on the ultimate breaking strength of that chain. This number is what we see today G30, G43, G70, G80 & G100 and the common chain grades. The number after each letter is N/mm2. For example, G80 means that the maximum stress on the chain at ultimate strength is 800 newtons per millimeter squared.

Working Load Limit (WLL) of Chain

The other safety measure was identifying which types of chain are appropriate and strong enough for overhead lifting. Anytime we move or lift a load it is dangerous. Moving a load along the ground has the advantage that the ground is supporting the load. We have to overcome the coefficient of friction to move the load. The chain’s working load limit does not have to match the weight of the load. It needs to be able to handle the tension applied, which is based on the surface that it is being moved over plus some fraction of the weight of the load. This can be calculated using formulas.

If we lift that same load off the ground, we now have to overcome gravity. The chain’s working load limit will have to be of sufficient strength to support the weight of the load plus any additional forces imposed by angles and hitch type(s) used.

Which Chain Grade Should Be Used for Which Type of Application?

Alloy Chain Grade 80 or Grade 100 should be used for overhead lifting. ASTM states that alloy chain shall be able to elongate a minimum of 20% before fracture (7.3.5). To ensure that alloy chain consistently meets this requirement, ASTM requires the use of certain alloying elements in the manufacturing of the steel for alloy steel chain. These alloys can vary from company to company, but some key requirements are specified by ASTM. The alloy properties also improve the wear and tear that the chain will experience.  Note that when chain is in use, no amount of stretch is allowed.

Carbon Grade 70 chain is a “heat treated” carbon steel chain that has no alloying elements added to the steel. This chain will elongate before breaking but does not have the properties needed for overhead lifting; therefore, Grade 70 chain is not intended for overhead lifting. This chain is designed for use as a tie down chain or lashing for transportation. Grade 70 chain has a gold chromate finish to help resist corrosion from continuous exposure to the elements and the rigors of highway use, such as road salts in the winter.

When any type of overhead lifting is required, use only alloy chain slings unless specified by the manufacturer.

The preferred chain for load securement is Grade 70, but any grade of chain can be used for tie downs or tensioning. You have to know your tensions in order to select the proper chain. Refer to load securement safety standards FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), CVSA (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), WSTDA (Web Sling Tie down Association) or the state regulations for more information.

Training is key in knowing how to properly size and use any type of chain for any application. Learn more about Columbus McKinnon training programs.

Watch our Safety Webinar on Load Securement.

Henry Brozyna

Henry Brozyna is a Corporate Trainer specializing in Rigging & Load Securement for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

Advantages of Lifting with Chain Slings vs. Synthetic Slings

Advantages of Lifting with Chain Slings vs. Synthetic Slings


Overhead Lifting Slings are generally used in conjunction with a crane, powered hoist, manual or lever hoist or some type of lifting device. There are numerous types of materials used for building overhead lifting slings – each with specific advantages and disadvantages – including:

  • Chain
  • Wire rope
  • Synthetics
  • Metal mesh.

Understand the Application Before You Spec a Sling
Before you select a sling it is important to fully understand the application and gather specific information on how the sling will be used. When choosing a sling, you must know the weight, center of gravity, number of attachment points for a balanced lift, sling angles, reach, upper and lower fittings and ambient conditions. Communicate or obtain as much background information as you can about the load being lifted, then decide what type of sling works best. This will help ensure you choose the right sling material and configuration for the task at hand.

Alloy Steel Chain: Recommended by ASME, NACM & OHSA
When using chain slings, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the National Association of Chain Manufacturers (NACM), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommend only the use of alloy steel chain for overhead lifting. Grades 63, 80 and 100 are the alloy steel chains used throughout the industry. They contain elements that give them their unique strength, abrasion resistance, durability and toughness. Per ASTM Standards, alloy chain slings must have the ability to elongate at least 20% when overloaded in order to have a visual indicator to the rigger that the sling is overloaded. Once any stretch is discovered, the chain sling must be removed from service. Synthetics do not have any such indicators as standard.

Advantages of Chain slings versus Synthetic slings


  • Resists impact, cuts and abrasions
  • Resistant to chemicals and UV radiation
  • Can be used in oily or dirty environments
  • Can be used at higher temperatures range -40oF thru 400oF with not reduction of WLL (synthetic slings can be used in temperatures no higher than 194oF)
  • Minimum elongation when lifting or tensioning
  • Long service life compared to synthetic slings


  • Easily adjustable (synthetic slings cannot be adjusted and therefore are often used incorrectly)
  • Can be constructed in the field

Inspection & Maintenance:

  • Easy to inspect
  • Completely reparable (cannot repair load bearing fibers in synthetic slings)

139 Years of Chain & Forging Know-How
Columbus McKinnon’s chain manufacturing roots date back to the 1800’s. We hold patents for chain and chain link design as well as the chain manufacturing processes, which help ensure our chain is the strongest and most reliable chain on the market today. We also invented the first alloy chain in 1933 – the forerunner to our industry-changing Herc-Alloy® 800 and 100 chains. In addition to chain, we also manufacture a variety of dual-rated hooks, links, sub-assemblies and other attachments that complement our chain offering.

For additional information on the safe and proper use of chain slings, check out our Safety Webinar on Chain Sling Inspection.

Henry Brozyna

Henry Brozyna is a Corporate Trainer specializing in Rigging & Load Securement for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

The Newest Chapter of ASME B30.11: What You Need to Know

The Newest Chapter of ASME B30.11: What You Need to Know

ASME B30.11 The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard, B30.11 has another chapter.  Revised in 2010, the most apparent change is the addition of Chapter 11-4, “Maintenance Training and Maintenance.”

ASME B30.11-4.1 states:

Maintenance training shall be provided to promote proficient adjustments, repairs, and replacements on crane and monorail systems….”

This added chapter includes requirements for not only underhung crane and monorail maintenance training, but for certification as an underhung crane and monorail maintenance person.  Certification is required for all persons who maintain and/or service monorails and underhung cranes. Are you and your underhung crane and monorail maintenance personnel trained and certified?

If your answer is “no” and you are interested in becoming certified, here are some classes that may interest you:

CMCO Chain Hoist Technician Certification
CMCO Wire Rope Hoist Technician Certification
CMCO Overhead Crane & Hoist Inspection Certification
Overhead Crane and Hoist Frequent/Monthly inspection

For additional reference, check our other ASME blog post:  The Latest ASME Updates

Tom Reardon

Tom Reardon is a Technical Instructor specializing in Hoists & Overhead Cranes for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

ICHC Presenter to Answer Audience Questions

ICHC Presenter to Answer Audience Questions

TomReardon_rev1 MCM Events welcomes another speaker at the jointly held Crane & Rigging Conference and Industrial Crane & Hoist Conference at the Hampton Inn Hotel & Suites New Orleans-Convention Center, New Orleans, La. The conferences will take place May 23-24, 2012. Tom Reardon, Training Manager, Hoists and Cranes, for Columbus McKinnon Corporation, will provide an overview of OSHA 1910.179, as well as explore crane configurations, regulations, and standards for the industry.
“Many of us have experienced the concern prompted by crane inspection reports listing discrepancies as OSHA violations. Not all of these reports are accurate,” says Reardon. “Some confusion exists among crane and hoist owners, users, and service providers regarding crane configurations and the application of OSHA 1910.179 regulations.”

Reardon is inviting industry stakeholders to submit questions regarding standards and regulations, to which he will source answers from ASME/ANSI, OSHA, CMAA, etc., and share them with delegates at the end of his presentation.

Do you have a question you would like answered? Take part in this survey.


Our Answer to this week’s post: What is wrong with this picture?

Our Answer to this week’s post: What is wrong with this picture?

This photo and explanation have been provided by our guest blogger, Lou Collobert, from Independent Electric. Lou is a CMCO Certified Hoist Repair Technician. 

Thank you everyone for your comments!  Here is the answer to our challenge question:

  • The trolley or carrier has been modified to accommodate the hoist’s suspension hook. This is an alteration of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s design.
  • The modified “suspension plate” is severely worn at the contact point with the hoist’s suspension hook.

This modification is likely not in compliance with ASME B30.11-1.3.4, regarding welding standards and qualifications or ASME B30.11-1.3.5, which addresses modifications of under hung cranes and monorails.

Because the wear of the “suspension plate” is so severe, this would likely be cited under the OSHA General Duty Clause, Section 5 (a)(1).  

In this case, the customer decided that repair of the trolley was not feasible and replaced the unit with a new one.   This is another example of why it is important that crane and hoist owners, operators and maintenance personnel are fully aware of the standards as they apply to equipment modifications and workplace safety.

Thank you, Lou, for submitting our challenge question and answer!

Want to test your luck with some of our other challenge questions? Check out these listed below:

Maintenance Challenge
Application Challenge
Rigging Challenge

Should a Warning Device be Continuously on When the Bridge Crane is Traveling?

Should a Warning Device be Continuously on When the Bridge Crane is Traveling?

warning deviceGene, a CMCO distributor salesperson, writes:

“I am not seeing eye to eye with my customer on a bridge crane alarm issue. His claim is that the warning device must be an alarm (sound) and that it should be continuously on when the bridge is traveling.  The standard he is referencing is ANSI B30.2 (1967) with the claim that it is incorporated by reference into law.

I have found numerous references myself to other standards regarding the requirement for a warning device. Where is the standard that permits a strobe? Where do you find the statement that makes ASME as the controlling entity? Thanks for your help!”

Tom Reardon, CMCO technical instructor, replies:

For the short answer, please skip to the bottom of the page.
For the long, detailed answer, please read on:

To start out let’s determine if the crane in question is top running or underhung.   If any load-bearing member of a crane or monorail travels on an internal or external lower flange or equivalent it does not fall within the purview of OSHA 1910.179.  The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued several interpretations stating as much.  One such interpretation was issued to Mr. Thomas Hagerty, on March 4, 1991 in response to his question: Does this standard apply to under-hung cranes, hoists, and monorails?  OSHA’s reply was, “This standard does not apply to under-hung cranes, overhead hoists, or monorails.  Under-hung cranes and monorails are covered in ANSI B30.11-1980, a National Consensus Standard.”

ASME B30.11 states the requirement for a warning device but does not specify what type or how it should be used.
ASME B30.11 SECTION 11-1.11 WARNING DEVICES: “On cab- and remote-operated cranes or carriers, an audible or visual warning means shall be provided.”
ASME B30.11 is a consensus standard. It does not have the power of law.  It may be used by OSHA to support a General Duty Clause violation, (5)(a)(1) to “demonstrate that a hazard and abatement options are recognized by industry.”

OSHA 1910.179 applies only if both the crane bridge and trolley are top running.
Paragraph 1910.179(b)(2) states, “All new overhead and gantry cranes constructed and installed on or after August 31, 1971 shall meet the design specifications of ANSI B30.2 (1967).”  OSHA became law on August 31, 1971, for overhead and gantry cranes.  Your distributor is correct in that OSHA 1910.179 “incorporates by reference”  in CFR 29 1910.6,  the B30.2 – 1967 standard.

OSHA 1910.179 does address the requirement for a warning device.  This requirement is vague at best.  “1910.179(i) Warning device; except for floor-operated cranes a gong or other effective warning signal shall be provided for each crane equipped with a power traveling mechanism.”  (Note: Floor Operated Cranes are defined as Pendant Operated)

While I do not have access to the 1967 version of ASME / ANSI B30.2 1967, it is highly unlikely the standards have become less restrictive or less protective since 1967.  The current ASME B30.2 – 2005 states the following requirements:


2-1.15.1 Cab- and Remote-Operated Cranes
(a) A warning device shall be provided.
(b) Refer to para. 2-3.1.7(e) for operation of the device.

2-1.15.2 Floor-Operated Cranes
(a) A warning device should be provided for installations where the ability of the operator to warn persons in the  path of the load is impaired.

2-1.15.3 Types of Devices
One or more of the following devices shall be provided when required:
(a) manually operated gong
(b) power-operated bell, siren, or horn
(c)  rotating beacon
(d) strobe

2-3.1.7 Conduct of Operators
(e) The operator shall activate the warning device on cab- and remote-operated cranes and, when provided, on floor-operated cranes
(1) before starting the bridge or trolley motion of the crane,
(2) intermittently during travel of the crane when approaching persons in the path of the load.

So… after a very long summary of the supporting standards and documentation, the answers to your questions are:

Question 1 – The allowance for the strobe is covered in ASME B30.2-1.15.3(d) above.

Question 2 – ASME is not law. ASME has no enforcement authority.  BUT  if the crane is not a top running bridge and top running trolley, only ASME B30.11 or 17  is applicable.

In closing:  (A) The alarm does not need to run continuously and has been proven to be less effective if it does.  (B) It also does not have to be a siren or audible device.

Tom Reardon

Tom Reardon is a Technical Instructor specializing in Hoists & Overhead Cranes for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

Highlights from the Spring ACRP Meeting

Highlights from the Spring ACRP Meeting








The Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals (ACRP) recently held its annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The ACRP is a nonprofit association whose mission is dedicated to improving crane operations and rigging activities in all industries. This is accomplished through educational opportunities to its members and the public. Many ACRP members are heavily involved with other organizations such as ASME, NACM, CMMA to name a few. Columbus McKinnon has board representation and also participates in the educational opportunities.

This year’s meeting theme was Crane Operation Safety.  Topics of discussion included:

  • D/d Ratio of Alloy Sling Chain
  • Turning Pre Cast Loads Safely on the Job Site
  • Design and Safety Criteria for Pad Eyes and Eyebolts
  • ASME Update on P30: ASME P30 is the newest “in development” standard under the ASME umbrella. The intent of this document is to provide end-users with an exceptional guideline that focuses on personnel, equipment and procedures as they relate to repetitive lifts, standard lifts and critical lifts.
  • Boom Assembly / Disassembly
  • How to Find and Calculate the Center of Gravity
  • Responsibilities of Crane Operations
  • How an Overhead Hoist Works (presented by Columbus McKinnon)
  • Critical Lift with Overhead Cranes
  • Derrick Barge Lift
  • Industrial Rollers
  • Overhead Crane Standards and Regulation Update

Each of the topics provided case studies and applications. There was also a tour of the Manitowoc Crane Production Facility. All cranes and attachments manufactured at the Manitowoc facility are rigged and tested in the 20 acre test yard. The machines are tested to ensure the safety, quality and functionality of the delivered product. Currently being tested in the yard was a 2300 metric ton crane. It was the largest capacity crawler ever designed and built by Manitowoc.

ACRP is where Trainers get Trained. Information is openly shared and is provided to members of ACRP for use in their own training programs.

Peter Cooke

Peter Cooke is a former Training Manager for Columbus McKinnon Corporation, having specialized in Rigging & Load Securement.

Wrap-up from the Recent WSTDA Meeting

Wrap-up from the Recent WSTDA Meeting

wstda-logo1 I recently attended the spring meeting of the WSTDA, (Web Sling Tie Down Association) in Fort Myers, FL. The meeting was comprised of web sling & tie down manufacturers, distributors & end users, a typical cross-section of its membership. Here are some of the highlights:

WSTDA Performs its Own Testing

One of the interesting things about the WSTDA is they will conduct their own testing. Samples are anonymously supplied to the testing committee, marked X, Y, Z & set up for testing. The results are shared by the committee with the membership at these meetings. The important thing about the results is that they guide the committees in formulating an industry recommendation. These recommendations are very important because the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) can use them to potentially sideline a truck for improper tie downs or OSHA can use them to cite a company for improper use of a sling. There are currently a number of these types of tests taking place; we anticipate that the results will be distributed at a future meeting.

Role of the WSTDA Committee

Over the years materials and the way things are done have changed. Therefore, some of the previous recommendations that WSTDA has made need to be updated. This is another issue that the various committees take on –  the updating of WSTDA’s recommendations.

Synthetic slings are being used more & more and are being asked to lift ever-increasing capacities. This is why this organization is so very important. The WSTDA, based on their testing results, will print recommendations that other organizations, such as ASME, CVSA & FMCSA will reference.

Newly-Developed Load Binders Used With Chain Tie Downs Standard Released

The WSTDA is pleased to announce the recent publication of its newly-developed Recommended Standard Specification for Load Binders Used With Chain Tie Downs. The standard applies to load binders designed to accommodate chain tie downs for the purpose of securing cargo. This standard recommends construction as well as identification and marking of these load binders. In addition, it gives important practical advice on use, maintenance and inspection of these binders.

The WSTDA is a non-profit, technical association dedicated to the development and promotion of voluntary recommended standards and associated reference materials. Members of the WSTDA include manufacturers and suppliers of synthetic web slings and tie downs, polyester roundslings, synthetic webbing, fibers, thread and related components.

For more information, contact WSTDA at (443) 640-1070 or www.wstda.com

Henry Brozyna

Henry Brozyna is a Corporate Trainer specializing in Rigging & Load Securement for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

The Twenty Year Rule

The Twenty Year Rule

twenty year rule While conducting our overhead lifting safety training it never fails that we get a comment to the effect of,

We’ve been doing it this way for over twenty years. We never had an accident.  And, now you are telling me it’s wrong?”

Just because you have been lifting a certain way for the past twenty years and never had an accident only means that you have been lucky. When performing safety training we emphasize all the safety standards and regulations that are applicable. They all serve a purpose.

When performing safety training we emphasize all the safety standards and regulations that are applicable. They all serve a purpose.

ANSI/ASME B30 Safety Standards for overhead lifting began in 1916 as an eight page safety code – now 94 years old. Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA) began as Electric Overhead Crane Institute (EOCI) in 1927 and published their first standard in 1948 –  62 years old. ANSI/NFPA 70, otherwise known as the National Electric Code began in 1897 – 113 years old. Article 610 of the NEC is specifically written for overhead cranes and hoists. For our friends north of the border, the CSA standard B167.08 began in 1964  – 46 years old. Finally, let us not forget OSHA, which began in 1970, making it 40 years old.  OSHA enforces two federal regulations for overhead lifting:  CFR 1910.179 for cranes and 1910.184 for slings. Between all these organizations and safety standards there is a total of 355 years of experience. 355 years trumps your 20 every time.

These organizations were not put together to make your life miserable.  You can’t take short cuts the way you have been doing the past twenty years.  These organizations include people that are involved in all facets of overhead lifting, including riggers and production and construction personnel that perform overhead lifting as part of their job.  They want you to be safe in your work habits and environment so that you can go home at the end of your shift or work day to your family.

This blog post was written by Larry Lynn, former Product Trainer for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.