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26/01/2018 (2) Misuse of Spreader Beams - Still An Issue?

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Misuse of Spreader Beams - Still An

Published on September 21, 2017

Anthony Culshaw Follow

Technical Director at Britlift Ltd. 881 63 116
3 articles

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who read, commented, liked and shared the first post
in this series, Spreader Beam Or Lifting Beam – An Explanation For All. The response was
fantastic with thousands of views, over 650 likes and over 100 shares. If you missed the
article please click the link above - as in this piece I will be building on what was covered

Today I’m going to look at the misuse of spreader beams which is still shockingly common
in the industry. I will be showing some images and diagrams and discussing what is

incorrect and why.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is aimed to educate and improve safety in
lifting. I will be editing photos to remove any and all branding – I have no interest in
laying blame to anyone for these lifting errors and only wish to help stop these
incidents from happening again. Anyone who attempts to identify any personnel or
businesses involved in any of the lifting operations will have their comments

The Example:

Figure 1

The image above was taken of a very recent lift within the UK in 2017. One of the
companies involved used this as a promotional image. Now I’m sure many of you have
l d d h i h hi lif b I’ i l
k j h i b 1/5
26/01/2018 (2) Misuse of Spreader Beams - Still An Issue? | LinkedIn
already spotted the error with this lift, but I’m going to look at not just 2what is wrong, but Reactivate
why it is wrong. Premium

As discussed in my first article, a spreader beam is subjected to a crushing force –

compression, if you need to recap why, please re-read the section in my first article with the
children on the swing.

To help explain what is going on in the above image, I’ve redrawn it below:

Figure 2

It is difficult to be sure from the photo, so to start with in figure 2 I have assumed that
bottom slings maintain the same angle as the top slings (it actually looks as if the ISA angle
widens which I will deal with later in this post).

What is happening here?

Let’s get straight to the point then, the beam in this image isn’t being used correctly, in fact,
you could say the beam in this image isn’t even being used!

In this example, the compression force is entirely taken by the load itself – indicated by the
red arrows in figure 2 above. When presented with the above scenario, many would argue
that the spreader beam would perhaps share the compression force with the load, but this is
not the case.

The first point to make is that if the spreader beam was removed from this there would be no
change to the sling angle and no change to the forces in the load.

The reason the load takes all of the compression in this example, is because this is the point
at which the force pulling downwards (created from the weight of the load) travels into the
angled sling. As discussed in my first article, it is the angled sling which creates the inwards
(compression) force, and in this example this force acts at the point where the angles change.

Higher up the rig, where the spreader beam is placed there is no change in the angle of the
force from the bottom slings to the top slings, therefore there is no resultant force created to
compress the spreader.

To help put this into perspective I have redrawn the diagram with the slings underneath the
spreader beam having a wider ISA angle than those above.

Figure 3

Let’s compare this new diagram (figure 3) to the first (figure 2). Starting at the bottom with
the load, and the bottom set of slings, we have a very similar situation. The load will still be
in compression for the same reasons as in figure 2. When we move up to the spreader
however, we now have a slightly different situation. We now have a change in angle 2/5
26/01/2018 (2) Misuse of Spreader Beams - Still An Issue? | LinkedIn

Search between the bottom slings and the top slings which means we will also2have a resultant forceReactivate
passing into the spreader beam. In this case however the force passing into the beam will be
tension (pulling force) and not the compression (crushing force) the beam was designed for.

Still not convinced? Have a look at the diagram below:

Figure 4

In figure 4 image 1, two buckets are hanging from separate slings in a crane hook.

In figure 4 image 2 a man has stepped between the buckets and is pushing the slings apart.
The slings want to hang straight so the man is experiencing a compression force on his arms.
This is similar to the forces on a spreader when it is being used correctly.

In figure 4 image 3 the buckets are now connected by a bar. The slings are at an angle from
the bar to the hook and this angle does not change as they pass the man’s arms. Here the
man is doing nothing and is experiencing no compression force.

In figure 4 image 4 the bar has been lengthened and the man is now holding the slings in.
Quite clearly here the man would be experiencing a pulling force. This is the same as the
spreader in figure 3, the change in angles here produces a tensile force.

So why is this misuse?

The example in figure 2 shows a beam that is not really being used, in this example it is
unlikely that a beam would fail – the issue is more likely to be with the load. If it has been
assumed that the spreader will be taking the compression forces out of a load, where in
reality the load is bearing all of the force, the load could be damaged or even drop.

The example in figure 3 is much worse, the same problems are present as in figure 2, but in
this example the beam itself could fail as they are not designed for tension. True tension and
compression are similar forces, but a component such as the bolts in a modular spreader are
calculated under the assumption that they will see stresses as a result of shear and bending –
axial tension would add to these forces, something which was not allowed for in the design

In summary:

In the example I have looked at today, the sling angles below the spreader were the
particular area where misuse was present. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the slings
below a spreader cannot be angled at all. In fact, it is mandatory to allow for a 6 degree
(from vertical) angle as a minimum in accordance with the current EU harmonized standard
(EN 13155:2003+A2:2009) for the design of spreader beams. In the case looked at today the
angle was just a little too far away from vertical. 3/5
26/01/2018 (2) Misuse of Spreader Beams - Still An Issue? | LinkedIn
Originally, I intended to look at multiple examples of misuse in this post,
so I hope you will Reactivate
forgive me for discussing this particular one at length. Instead, let me leave you with the Premium

following examples to discuss in the comments, I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading and if you would like to stay up to date as these articles come out then
please follow Britlift on Linkedin.

Anthony Culshaw

Anthony is currently the Technical Director at spreader and lifting Beam

manufacturers Britlift. He is a former member of the LEEA Technical Committee and
has spoken at lifting conferences around the world on the subject of below the hook
lifting equipment.

Other examples:

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Structural Designer in 3C Metal Middle East

Nice briefing.
Like Reply

Nitin Kumar 4mo

Mechanical Engineer at j. kumar infraprojects ltd.

Good explaination
Thanks a lot
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Anthony Culshaw
Technical Director at Britlift Ltd.

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