Ask the Experts | What’s a Rigger?

Ask the Experts |What’s a Rigger?

What is a rigger? A rigger is a person responsible for securing a load to lift, pull, hoist, or move in general. They’re responsible for making sure the right equipment and hardware are used for a lift, the right methods are used to lift and the equipment used is operated properly, by a qualified professional.

You might wonder, “Don’t all construction sites move and lift things?” And you’d be correct – functions of rigging are used on construction sites daily. However, a rigger’s responsibilities are a bit more specific. They may be brought onto a construction site to move the construction crew’s large machinery (think a skid steer or forklift) to another part of the site. Other roles a rigger might perform on, or for, are:

  • Signal Person: This person is responsible to signal, with verbal or physical cues to workers’ who operate the lifting equipment, especially cranes.
  • Inspector/Fabricator: This person is involved in fabricating the equipment used to lift, and is also likely to be used on the construction site to repair, inspect or certify rigging equipment and other lifting apparatus’ used on site.
  • Controller: This person may be involved in operating the equipment used to lift, mechanical, or otherwise. They could operate a crane, electric chain hoist, or other moving gear and direct the path of hard-to-move loads.
  • Assess and install: A rigger will determine the best equipment to be used for the load.

Lots of rigging happens in many industries daily, but a rigger may be called in to lift a load that requires specialized equipment to get the job done. Certain lifts, or equipment you need to complete those lifts, may be regulated or require certifications to operate them. In these circumstances, a rigger would be called in to complete the lift or to assess the load and determine which equipment should be applied.

A #HercAtWork Example

For example, one of our riggers’ was called to a site to move an excavator that had broken down. They needed the equipment moved so it could be repaired, and Hercules SLR was brought in to find the best methods and tools to lift and move it.

The project manager wanted to use two synthetic round slings to lift the excavator by its tracks. Before the move, Hercules SLR riggers’ discussed the clients’ needs and expectations. The two riggers’ on the job gave their recommendations and went beyond that by finding the excavator’s manual which detailed its lifting points, and which hardware was best to use. Then, our riggers’ calculated the excavator’s load weight – after collecting and calculating all relevant information, they found that synthetic round slings’ were specifically not recommended to lift this particular excavator.

If the project manager had simply bought the equipment he thought best to lift the excavator, it’s very likely he would have damaged a $100,000+ piece of equipment – yikes.

What Skills a Rigger Needs

Some of the skills a rigger should have, are:

  • Math & Science: Physics and other calculations are an everyday part of securing and rigging a load. Determining an objects’ centre of gravity, for example, is an essential skill.
  • Operating Machinery: Operating machinery is another everyday part of rigging. Much of this machinery is electric, but manual pulley’s and hoists are used, too. If you have an interest in mechanics and problem-solving, rigging could be a great path for you.
  • Adaptability: Depending on the type of rigging done, a riggers’ travels can take you to faraway destinations – some of the places Hercules SLR’s riggers have gone to include Sable Island, Mexico and offshore destinations, which can be particularly isolated.
  • Risk Management, Communication & Planning: Imagine this – you’re working with a construction crew, and you’re responsible to help build a commercial kitchen. You’ve rigged part of a large industrial walk-in refrigerator, but forgot to assess the hazardous risk for chemical refrigerants. The load’s weight hasn’t been distributed evenly and the load sways and crashes against an obstacle, damaging the container and causing it to leak. Many refrigerants contain harmful, environment-damaging chemicals and now, you’re the rigger responsible for damage to the environment, people and the equipment. Situations like this can have harmful financial, legal and fatal consequences for the rigger and everyone else involved. This is why it’s important to understand the machinery, physics and the risks associated with securing and lifting various loads – planning and being able to communicate with all involved on the job site is crucial to manage risk.

Some of the things taught on a rigging course are:

  • Regulations/Standards
  • Rigging Planning
  • Rigging Triangle
  • Load Control
  • Sling angles
  • Rigging Equipment (slings, hitches, hardware, hooks)
  • Pre-use Inspection
  • Communications (radio and hand signals)
  • Practical Application of the equipment and principles

A Riggers Many Job Titles

As we explored in this article, a rigger performs many different duties, functions, and must be responsible for many different aspects of a lift. Industrial trades, like construction, are often associated with rigging, but riggers’ are found across nearly every industry. They might not be called a rigger, either – someone who rigs might also have these job titles:

  • Boat/Ship/Marine Rigger
  • Crane Erector
  • Crane Operator
  • Crane Rigger
  • Entertainment/Stage/Theatrical Rigger
  • Gear Repairer
  • Gripper/Stage Grip
  • Hook Tender
  • Labourer
  • Loft Rigger
  • Machinery Mover
  • Material Handler
  • Offshore Inspection Technician
  • Offshore Rigger
  • Parachute Rigger
  • Rigging Foreman
  • Rig Worker
  • Scaffolder
  • Slinger/Ring
  • Warehouse Associate

The Hercules Training Academy offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.

Our courses can be customized to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!

If you’re interested in building a customized training program, please get in touch. One of our training representatives would be happy to help you get started.

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