What Does A Rigger Do?

If the work involves lifting, transporting and securing machines and loads, the company will often turn to riggers to get the job done. Through the use of cranes, pulleys, hydraulic jacks, overhead lifting gears, flat bed trucks and other hoisting equipment, riggers are able to move huge loads like machines and large devices that could not normally be moved by human strength alone. Because there are different kinds of loads that need to be moved in various industries, riggers can work not only firms engaged in shipbuilding, construction, oil, gas and manufacturing but also in the telecommunications, film and even healthcare industries.

The work of riggers involves a multitude of tasks to ensure that the load is safely transferred and the workers don’t get injured. First, they will need to look at the weight and size of the load to be moved and then choose the most appropriate rigging equipment and hardware for the task. The pulleys, slings and bars that will be used should be the proper match for the load or else the work cannot be undertaken correctly and safely. It may be necessary for the rigger to inspect and test the equipment that will be used before the actual rigging is carried out.

Riggers will also scrutinize the load carefully, noting its shape, size and weight to determine where the center of gravity is and if it will rotate (and if it will, its direction) while it is being hoisted. These data are important for the riggers to pinpoint where the attachment points of the gears should be positioned to safely lift the load. If the thing to be lifted is a machine, riggers also make sure to provide sufficient structural support to it in order to prevent damage.

Before the actual move, riggers prepare the place where the load is supposed to be delivered. They make sure that it will provide temporary support for the machinery. They use hand tools and power tools to do this. Sometimes, they may also be asked to align, level and anchor the machinery permanently.

Riggers then need to carefully attach the pulleys and blocks to the beams or other hoisting equipment. When everything is in order, riggers then start the move by manipulating the hoists, rigging lines and gear. If necessary, the rigger might have to reposition the rollers and add or subtract air bearings. Any activity that entails moving of loads can be a stressful endeavor as they would need to be moved around various obstacles. Riggers may even need to go to tight spaces to control load movement.

Aside from working to transport regular load in various industries, riggers are also called upon to help during natural disasters. They form part of disaster recovery teams that seek to save lives during earthquakes, tsunamis and other events. They are usually called upon to operate cranes at the disaster site, removing rubble and providing relief in areas that aren’t accessible to people. Riggers working in these situations have to know what they are doing because operating cranes in these situations can also be very risky for them as the ground can be unstable in the wake of these calamities.

Riggers often work as a team in transferring loads so constant communication is key. Since sound may not be very audible because of the noise in the environment, riggers must communicate with each other using hand signals so that the load can be moved without incident. They have to use a common language when signaling so that miscommunication and potential accidents can be prevented.

Safety is always a primary concern with all riggers. They have to try to avoid dangerous shock forces as they go about their job, for example. They also have to follow safety standards set forth by such organizations as The Occupational Safety and Health Act, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the National Fire Protection Association. It’s also important for riggers to be insured since accidents can happen no matter how much a rigger tries to observe safety precautions.

Career Spotlight: Rigger

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