How should lifting equipment be marked to indicate safe working loads?

Lifting equipment and all accessories, must have clear markings indicating their safe working loads, or "SWL".

You've no doubt seen this indication on the side of any equipment that's used to lift anything, including people. In the case of people, it should in fact also show how many people can be lifted. You'll likely see this in cherry pickers and boom lifts.

It doesn't end there, though.

Some equipment is usable in a number of configurations.

For example, if the hook of a hoist can be moved to a number of different positions, then they must all have their SWL indicated for each configuration. This makes perfect sense, as the position of a heavy load could adversely affect the stability of the machinery as a whole.

Accessories also have a part to play.

Some additions to the basic configuration may be heavy, or awkward, and similar to a re-configured hoist, it might have an effect on stability.

Where any such accessories do affect the host machinery, they must clearly indicate how they can be used safely, and if the weight is a factor, it should also be indicated.

Lifting people

Some equipment is designed to lift people, such as a cherry picker like that mentioned above, but some equipment isn't, even though it might seem like it is.

In these cases, the equipment should be clearly marked to show that it is not to be used to lift people.

Other terminology

Safe working load, or SWL is sometimes stated as the "Normal Working Load (NWL)". In reality, it's a calculation of the minimum breaking strength and its risk factor.


If you're at all unsure about the safe operation of your lifting equipment, call Worlifts today and we'll give you peace of mind, and ensure the safety of your staff.