Winch safety

Winch safety

The best safety advise that can be given is to use your common sense.

Most things that look dangerous are dangerous.

Standing under a suspended load, standing near, or even worse over, a loaded steel wire rope, using equipment outside the operational limits, or bypassing safety equipment are only the most notorious, but many more exist and happen in the day to day use of lifting equipment. Selecting the right equipment for the job at hand, installing and commissioning it the right way and training the people operating and maintaining the equipment go a long way in ensuring prolonged operational safety and reliability.

Selecting the right equipment

Make a reliable estimation of the operational loads and speeds expected, not only the current demand, but also include expected later increases in capacity. Make sure the winch is suitable for the environment it has to operate in, this can be a very high or low ambient temperature, a very wet or dusty or even a partial or temporary underwater environment or an environment where an explosion risk may be present. Please communicate any special requirements or operating conditions, in most cases we can provide the perfect equipment for the job.

Installation and commissioning

Make sure the equipment is installed and commissioned by a qualified party and that the installation site is suitably prepared in advance for the installation. Preparation may include things like arranging the correct type of power supply, preparing the mounting surface or having lifting equipment available on site at the right moment. In most cases the local EMCÉ dealer or, with larger companies, the technical department will install the winch, but in case of doubt or for highly specialized equipment installation can be taken care of by the EMCÉ service department. Commissioning by EMCÉ technicians is in many cases preferred to make sure the installation and its safety are all to specification and requirement.

Training and instruction

Make sure all staff involved with operating, inspecting or maintaining the equipment is properly trained and instructed. This can be done by the local dealer, or by factory representatives. In particular safety related subjects must be clearly explained and trained. Also refer to the safety related sections of the manual provided with the winch. Also it is very important that the person or persons responsible for winch operation are fit, well rested and have good hearing and eye sight. And just as with driving a car, alcohol or drugs do not mix very well with operating a winch.

Rope Safety

Depending on the classification group of the mechanism, the exact rope safety factor (breaking strength) for lifting winches can be chosen according to ISO 16625-2013. A five-fold factor is normally applied to lifting applications; threefold for pulling winches and an eight to ten-fold factor for personnel lifting (man riding)

Make sure the rope is correct for the load and the application, and have it checked at regular intervals by a certified body, and have the operators perform daily inspections.

Replace the rope when damaged or worn by a rope of the same specification or better, consult in case of doubt the EMCÉ dealer , the factory or a reputable rope supplier.


For most winches  and capstans some form of braking capability is required. For lifting winches brakes are indispensable and man riding winches even have two independent brakes fitted to increase the safety of the winch even further. Make sure the efficiency of the brakes is inspected and maintained at the prescribed intervals to ensure a safe and reliable operation of the winch.

Emergency stop

An emergency stop system is a crucial piece of safety equipment. Be it to counteract a control system failure or to stop the machine to prevent an accident, an emergency stop must be part of the winch controls. The emergency stop can cut out the electrical supply, or in the form of a ball valve can interrupt the supply of hydraulic oil or compressed air to the winch.

Inspection and maintenance

Any piece of equipment needs maintenance, winches and capstans are no different. Adhering to the inspection and maintenance instructions and intervals provided in the manuals go a long way to keep the equipment safe and efficient. Make sure the equipment is serviced by competent/qualified people, and do not hesitate to contact the EMCÉ factory about any safety related questions.