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Winches for Lifting?


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I just read in a winch manual and had it confirmed by a reputable manufacturer that winches

are "NEVER to be used for lifting or suspending a load". So, how do we get away

with lifting towers with winches? Not only that, part of the lifting process

includes having a crew member adjust the back wires to take out the excess

slack. So we expect someone to stand under a load while we lift or hold the

load with an apparatus that is not designed for lifting?

We are fortunate that no one has been hurt yet.  However, it will be hard to dismiss liability when we are using equipment outside of its design.

Has anyone else questioned this practice?


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The winch is securely anchored to the ground during the tower installation process, and the winch cable is spooled in horizontally. The warning in the winch manual you are describing above refers to a situation where a load would be hanging from the winch (lifting an engine out of a car, for example). At no time during the tower installation process is any part of the tower directly hoisted into the air by the winch. The TallTower installation manuals have some detailed photos showing the safe and correct usage of the winch to lower the ginpole (which raises the tower); you can find the manuals under "Documentation" in the Tech Support section of the website.


The point at which crew members adjust the back guy wires is when the tower is almost at 90 degrees. There is minimal tension on the guy wires and winch cable at this stage of the installation. The greatest loads on the winch are when the tower is barely off the ground.


Please note that we offer a tower training program that can teach you how to install our towers safely and efficiently. Available dates can be found in the Tech Support section of our website.

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Thanks for the reply.  However, I don't understand a couple of your comments.  First you say that the winch isn't used for lifting the tower, then you say that it raises the tower.  Secondly, I have read the 60m and 50m XHD manual which states on page 48 that when the tower is at 60 degrees (not 90):

"...the crew must control the lift from this point on using the back guy wire. Before continuing the lift, adjust the back guy wires to take out the excess slack."

This can only be done by walking in an area where there is a hazard of a falling tower should the winch fail.

From a safety standpoint, the hazard is identical to a hoist application.  The hazard for both situations is a falling object, and would be treated the same in the event of an investigation.

So, the questions still remain.  Can winches be used for lifting?  Who is liable if someone gets hurt, or killed, when the winch manuals (and standards) explicitly state that winches are to not be used for lifting?

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Quick comment on keeping tension on back guy wires during final stages of lift



-When I used to install towers, we would connect ropes using quicklinks to the back guys during the final lift phase. This would allow us to keep adequate tension on the guys through the ropes without standing in the falling radius of the tower.

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Thanks footloosiety,

I am aware of the practice you speak of.  It is strange that it is referred to in the Tower Lowering procedure of the 60m and 50m XHD manual but not in the Tower Tilt-Up section.

I agree that in the absence of proper equipment for lifting the tower, one must resort to best (or safest) practices.  The problem with continually adjusting the back guys using the inchworm method (as per manual) from 60 to 90 degrees, is that the crew member doing it must keep his/her head down to loosen and tighten the clamps.  The crew member obviously loses visual contact with the tower itself, should it fall down on top of him/her.

As a best practice, I would propose using your method of attaching ropes to the back guys using quicklinks, and standing outside of the falling radius of the tower.  In addition, we also measure out, to the best of our ability, the exact length of the back guy wires while the tower is down.  We do this by rolling them out to the side anchors, marking the length, then fastening them to the back side anchors.  This way, the back guys do not have to be adjusted until the tower is essentially vertical, and the tension is taken off of the winch.

There is then no need to stand under the the tower when it is at 60 degrees as the manual suggests.

 Whether using a winch or a hoist, no one should have to risk being in the path of a falling object.

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