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Lifting Beam Design

Lifting beams, spreaders and frames can be designed for general purpose or as bespoke beams for a specific use with a planned range of lifts.

Lifting beams, etc. are used for a variety of purposes which can include:

  • Reduce required headroom when lifting loads
  • Provide multiple lifting points
  • Offer a means of handling out of balance loads
  • Provide lifting points at adjustable centres
  • Provide a vertical lift with controlled or no inward pull for eyebolts and similar lifting points and loads which must be protected from crushing force
  • A means of handling loads requiring special attachments such as hooks, plate clamps, etc.


Stability is a key factor in the planning stages. In most cases using a lifting beam instead of long slings can reduce the overall stability of the lift. If the lifting points are below the centre of gravity particular attention should be paid.

To combat instability and achieve a stable configuration the height of the lifting triangle should be increased in relation to the loading triangle, so A should be greater than B, and D must be equal to or greater than C.

Lifting Beams, Spreaders and Frames Importance of Stability

Lifting Accessories

Many lifting beams and spreaders are fitted with standard lifting accessories such as shackles, wire rope slings, chain slings, web slings and plate clamps, turnbuckles, etc. The requirements of the individual sections of those code apply whether these items are readily removable from the beam or not. Whilst removable lifting accessories can be used for separate lifting applications, it’s good practice to keep them together as if forming an integral part of the lifting beam.

This is particularly the case if they are recorded with the beam on the EC Declaration of Conformity, report of thorough examination, etc. In the case of lifting accessories used separately, the onus is on the user to replace or reassemble these onto the beam. Care should also be taken to ensure that the component has in face been thoroughly examined in accordance with current legal requirements before using it for a different lifting application.


In addition to thorough examination necessary under statutory provisions, all lifting beams should be visually inspected by a Responsible Person prior to use on a regular basis. The interval between inspections will depend on the conditions of service. If any of the following defects are presents the should withdrawn from service and referred to a competent person i.e. a Hoist UK lifting engineer:

  • Lifting eyes, bows, bolts, etc. should be inspected for obvious signs of wear, distortion and physical damage
  • Load attachment points such as hooks fabricated into the beam should be inspected for wear, distortion and physical damage
  • Attachment points for shackles used for lifting the beam or attaching the load should be inspected for wear and elongation of holes. It is usually necessary to remove the shackle to do this
  • Ensure the requisite markings are clearly visible and correspond to the loading's stated on the documentation
  • The beam should be checked for distortion
  • The beam should be checked for localised physical damage. Particular attention should be given to hollow sections which may have dents or localised buckling and to the flanges of structural steel sections
  • Corrosion damage
  • Signs of cracks and distortion especially in welded details
  • Bolted connections to the beam should be checked for tightness

Lifting Beams

A simple lifting beam typically has a single lifting eye above the beam which is hooked to the lifting equipment and lower lifting eyes on the underside of the beam are used to connect the load.

The suspension points in figures 1 to 4 are shown as being vertically below the crane hook, although single suspension points are shown, multiple suspension point for use with two or more crane hooks are also available as are multiple load attachment points.

Lifting Spreader (Spreader Beam)

A spreader, also known as a spread beam as shown in figure 5 can be considered a strut in pure compression and the line of action of the top of the sling and the load suspension point coincide at the neutral axis at the end of the spreader.

A simple spreader will have a configuration made up of a suspension sling which the lifting equipment hooks onto at each end of the spreader beam, which are then connected to the load.

Lifting Frame

A lifting frame like that diagrammatically represented in figure 6 is in effect a combination of four spreaders.

Combination Beams for Spearders

You can have a combination of a beam and a spreader, a simpler example of this is shown in figure 7.

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