Improving safety of lifting operations with better knowledge

By Brandon Verret, Technical Performance Manager, and Wilfred Guidry Jr., Competence Team Leader, Sparrows Group

Legislation and safety regulations differ depending on the geographical location, but important lessons can be learned and implemented to improve the effectiveness of what can sometimes be deemed box-ticking. 

In the USA and Gulf of Mexico, API RP 2D: Operation and Maintenance of Offshore Cranes 7th Edition could see more stringent regulations come into force where lifting operations are concerned. The edition has yet to be enforced by The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), but the addition of language related to lifting authorities could see the introduction of internal processes and training requirements that have not previously been realised by operators in the region. 

Lifting operations are crucial in large scale industries such as on- and offshore oil and gas and industries. As these industries have grown, and we’ve seen additions such as renewables, there has been an influx of new candidates joining these sectors, bringing fresh ideas but also presenting challenges related to safety and knowledge.

There are several common reasons why lifting incidents occur, including complacency surrounding operations, lack of communication, a shortage of lifting operations knowledge, or a need for awareness of company guidelines and procedures. 

The introduction of lifting authorities and coaches 

The lifting authority is typically responsible for implementing and reviewing lift plans and is the focal point of authority for the operational and technical aspects of a lift. All lifting operations should have a lift plan supported by analysis of potential hazards and risks which describes the steps to move the load from its original position to its final resting place. It is not always the case that the lifting authority will be on site to oversee the lift and that is where an onsite lifting coach can add valuable improvements to operational safety. 

In regions where stringent regulations are not in place, it’s commonplace that personnel may have learned on the job or undertaken unsuitable training. It is thus more likely that incidents will happen, through no real fault of the crew. 

A lifting coach will review lifting plans and can intervene, if necessary, as well as give feedback, talking the crew through the “whys” and ensure that work is conducted safely, reducing the risk of incidents and potential harm to personnel. 

Since it is expected that regulations will likely tighten in the USA and other regions where they’ve commonly been more relaxed, we’re seeing widespread preparation. There has been an increase in companies looking to employ onsite lifting authorities and coaches, and more stringent competency matrices are being put in place to ensure that staff are better trained and lifting operations run without error. 

Whilst there is no legal requirement for a lifting coach, and many businesses will not be introducing third party lifting authorities yet, the role of a lifting coach has the power to act as a preventative step to eliminating potential issues and preparing for future change.


Brandon Verret is Technical Performance Manager.
Wilfred Guidry Jr. is Competence Team Leader at Sparrows Group.