The Hoist Manufacturers’ Association of America (HMI) has published two guides on manual lever ratchet hoists. The titles of the sister publications are self explanatory: the Manually Operated Lever Hoist Operators Manual covers operations; Manually Lever Operated Hoist Inspection and Hoist Maintenance Personnel Manual covers inspection and maintenance.

Publication of these guides follow two issued last year on the use and maintenance of overhead hoists. All of the guides are based on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30 standards series on factory cranes and attachments, issued in 1998-9. Because the B30 standards consider lever hoists to be hand tools, the HMI decided to issue separate guidance, says Hal Vandiver, managing director of HMI.

“Because the manufacturer has no direct control over the hoist and its operation, conformance with good safety practice is the responsibility of the user and operating personnel,” says the operators’ manual.

It sets out recommendations for how to use these products and what to look for in daily inspections. Among other recommendations, the manual stipulates that operators should begin lifting slowly to make sure the load is attached and balanced properly. Operators should not lift out of the vertical, not use a load limiting device as a scales, not use the hoist as a ground when welding, and not lengthen the lever arm with pipe or other material.

Pre-start inspections cover structural damage to the hook, hook latch, operating lever, the chain or web or strap. They also cover making sure that the reeving is correct, that the brake and ratchet and pawl are operating correctly, that there is no oil or grease leakage, unusual sounds or damage to warning labels.

The inspection and maintenance handbook specifies two other types of inspection: frequent and periodic. Frequent inspections include pre-start checks plus checking the hoist frame for damage. Periodic inspections include frequent inspection items plus checking fasteners, sprockets, load limiting devices and other parts.

The document also gives basic guidance on checking wire ropes, chains, web straps and hooks. It recommends that users make records of condition, maintenance, repair and replacement of critical components such as wire rope, load chain, hooks and brakes.

It notes that although ASME B30.21 does not require any written reports for pre-start or frequent inspections, these might be useful anyway for tracking maintenance. The underlying standard does require written reports for periodic inspections. Both guides come complete with checklists and sample inspection forms.

According to the guidance, an acceptable alternative to a written report is an external coded mark on the hoist. This mark would show that the hoist had passed a periodic inspection within the appropriate time frame.

The manual suggests that these records could be used as the basis for a scheduled preventative maintenance programme for wearing components. Others dispute this point. Konecranes Australia managing director Edward Yakos, for example, says: “The smaller hoists, such as chain hoists, are almost designed as a throwaway. The price levels are so low that, in many cases, it is more cost effective to buy new than repair.” In any case, both of the guides are available to non-members of the HMI for just $5 and can be ordered from the HMI ( or by fax (+1) 704 676 1199.