Hoist and winch operators control cables, cages, and platforms used to move materials from place to place on a job site or in a factory.
Although they look the same, hoists and winches are different pieces of equipment. Usually, hoists are designed to lift objects or materials vertically, or up and down. Winches are used to lift and move objects horizontally, or from left to right. Because they do different things, hoists and winches have different load capacities, brake systems, and safety devices.
Hoist and winch operators measure or weigh the materials to be moved. The size, shape, and weight of the load may limit how it is moved. Operators decide whether the materials should be moved on a platform, in a metal cage, or by hooks and cables. They move materials onto the platform or into the metal cage. Sometimes they move the materials by hand or with a hand truck. If the materials are large or heavy, operators use a truck or car to move them. Operators attach cables, hooks, and lines to loads. They use equipment such as jacks, slings, cables, and stop blocks to control and position the movement of the loads. They use hand tools such as wrenches to tighten connections. Once loads are properly packaged, operators move them to their desired location.
Hoist and winch operators control machines that pull the cables and lift the materials off the ground. The machines may be powered by air, diesel, gas, steam, or electricity. Operators control the machines with switches, levers, and foot pedals. While moving materials, operators watch the loads so that they do not hit anything. They often make adjustments based on signals given by other workers. Signals are usually given by hand, bell, phone, or whistle. They also watch dials and indicators inside their equipment.
Some hoist and winch operators work on derricks. Derricks are tall, metal cage towers used for mining and drilling for oil. A cable and pulley system is built in the tower. Hoist and winch operators control this system to lift materials within the tower. They may climb ladders to check equipment there.
Finally, hoist and winch operators repair, maintain, and adjust equipment and machines. For example, they oil moving parts so that winches lift items smoothly.