Safety Latches Save Lives Hazard Alert

Topic: Safety Latches Save Lives
Date Issued: January 27, 2012 Date Revised:

A man was killed when a cement pole that was being removed by an excavator struck him. A shank hook had been welded to the excavator bucket and slings had been rigged around the pole and tied to the hook. As the pole was being moved, it came free, fell and struck the worker. The hook did not have a safety latch.

The following table outlines the requirements for safety latches on hooks for various types of hoisting apparatus:


Type of Crane

Mobile Cranes Required
Tower Cranes Required
Electric Overhead Travelling Cranes Required when specified
Overhead Cranes Not specified
Gantry Cranes Not specified
Monorails Not specified
Trolleys Not specified





It is important to follow proper procedures when using hooks as their misuse may lead to a load disengaging from the hook. A falling load may cause serious injury or death.

Recommended Preventive Action

  • Always inspect hooks and latches before use to ensure they are adequate for the work and are in good working condition.
  • A safety latch that is inoperative shall be repaired, replaced or removed, if not required.
  • Hooks with self-closing safety latches shall be used to prevent components from slipping out of the hook.
  • When a latch is equipped with a lock open device to facilitate rigging, the latch should be closed during operation.
  • Where a hook is equipped with a safety latch, the latch should not be subjected to loading unless it is specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry the weight of the load.
  • When a hook is equipped with a latch, the load should not restrict the closure of the latch.
  • Never use a latch that is distorted, bent, or does not close the hook’s throat.
  • A latch will not work properly on a hook with a bent or worn tip.
  • Latches are intended to retain any loose sling or devices under slack conditions.
  • Latches are not intended to be an anti-fouling device.
  • Using an open hook can allow a load on that hook to come free and fall, however, the use of a hook with a safety latch does not preclude the accidental detachment of a load from the hook. Proper hook engagement is required in all cases.

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