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A Haulout Gone Bad

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Mobile Boat Hoist Safety: What To Look For

Regular Maintenance Program

Boat hoists require a regular maintenance program to maintain their peak functionality. Inquire with the boatyard as to what type of regular maintenance program it performs. Engines, hydraulics, cooling systems, hoists, and tired all need to be checked and maintained on a regular basis. A well–run boatyard should have a record of daily inspections that it performs on the machines.

Operator Qualifications

Some boatyards have several operators, and one or more of them may be unsupervised trainees. Insist on a qualified operator. Lifting a boat properly requires that the boat hoist be operated by someone who has been properly trained. Ask about: The experience and safety record of the operator who will be lifting your boat and how he or she received training. Whether the operators are required to read the manuals. Have they been tested on their knowledge of the equipment and its use? Whether the operators are licensed for this equipment. In the United States, some states require licensing. You might want to observe your assigned operator hauling out someone else's boat. Look for operator focus. A boat hoist operator should give his or her undivided attention to lifting your boat. The boat hoist is a sophisticated piece of machinery, and a distracted operator can lead to a dangerous lifting situation.

Operator Pre-lift Inspections

An operator should always do a walk–around inspection of the machine prior to lifting a boat. This inspection can identify hidden obstacles or other dangerous conditions that could affect the lifting of a boat. Ask if there is an operators' daily checklist for each mobile boat hoist used at the facility. There should be signed daily reports that, at a minimum, verify that the equipment, including wire rope and fabric slings, is in good condition during testing, inspection, and use.

Wire Rope Condition

Over time, wire rope on a boat hoist will need to be replaced due to wear and tear. Worn out wire rope will have diminished listing capacity and could fail suddenly if the condition is bad enough. Machines need to be inspected and certified by a recognized authority on a regular basis to ensure safe lifting. If you see an obvious problem area that concerns you, point it out and ask the operator about the last time the machine was inspected.

Spooling On Hoist Drums

Open spooling on a hoist drum occurs when the wire rope doesn't wrap properly on the drum and a large space is created between two wire rope wraps. When open spooling occurs, the wire rope deteriorates rapidly.

Tire Condition

An old or improperly inflated tired can result in a dangerous lift of your boat. Tire failure could destabilize the boat hoist and cause your vessel to be dropped. Tired should be inspected for excess wear and tear and obvious inflation issues.