Can A Hoist Be Used Horizontally?

A hoist is a great tool that gives you a mechanized advantage when lifting a heavy load. I went to a workshop recently to get a quotation for the shock absorbers on my vehicle. I saw one of the technicians use a hoist to lift  automotive spares, and that made me wonder:” Can a hoist be used horizontally?”  

Lifting machines like hoists are not designed to be used horizontally. The lifting hook of any lifting hoist should always be located above the center of gravity. When you use a hoist in a horizontal direction while lifting, it creates momentum that can cause injuries and property damage.

Hoists are manufactured with various capacities to lift different loads. Using hoists horizontally can cause damage to the hoist itself; it can damage the load or even cause injuries to the person using the hoist. Read on for more on this topic.

Can You Use A Hoist Horizontally?

Experts in lifting equipment do not recommend that a hoist be used in a horizontal direction as the mechanical parts of a hoist are not designed to work if it is not being used vertically. When you use a hoist horizontally, it is called sideloading. Here is what can happen when you side pulls with a hoist:

  • When you pull a load horizontally, the hoist components will get jammed, resulting in expensive mechanical failure to the hoist.
  • When a hoist breaks because of sideloading, it will lead to you losing the load. The chance of this happening increases with the weight of a load.
  • When a load is pulled horizontally with a hoist, it will cause the load to swing, and that could cause the user of the hoist to be struck or trapped under the load.

Hoists are designed to work in a specific way, and using a hoist in any other way will be dangerous. To prevent the unwanted consequences we have listed above, you need to be trained in the correct way to use a hoist.

What Happens When You Pull A Load Horizontally?

The previous section of this post shows that it can have serious consequences when you pull a load. In this section, we will discuss those consequences in more detail.

The Hoist Can Jam Up When A Load Is Pulled Horizontally

A hoist jams up when it is used in a horizontal direction because it is designed to be used vertically. The mechanical gears on the inside will wind unevenly because of the hoist’s angle. When a hoist jams up, it could lead to the chain or the cables breaking.

The mechanical parts located on the inside of the body of the hoist can also wear out because the chain or cable damages it. The damage to the hoist can be severe, and it could lead to the hoist being unserviceable.

If you get trained on the proper use of a hoist and follow the recommendations of the hoist manufacturer, you will be able to prevent expensive component failure.

Losing The Load Because Of Component Failure

When the components like the cable, chain or the mechanical parts inside the body of a hoist fail because it is being used horizontally, the load can end up in a place where it was not supposed to go causing damage to the load or the facility. The load could also cause serious bodily harm when it ends up in the wrong location.

The User Of A Hoist Could Get Injured Or Trapped

 When a hoist is used in a horizontal position and the chain or cable snaps, it will cause the load to be unstable. It creates a situation where it could cause injuries to the hoist user when they get struck by the load. A person can also become trapped between structures and the load.

Injuries to people can range from bruises to amputated limbs. Hoists should only be used in a vertical position to prevent these injuries to their users.

Expert Tips For Using A Hoist Safely

It is clear from this post’s contents and expert opinions that it is a bad and dangerous idea to use a hoist horizontally or pull a load. The methods that professionals use to operate a hoist safely is as follow:

  • The first thing that experts suggest is that users of the hoist are trained in the safe ways of using any lifting machine (including a hoist) and that they are trained to sling the load correctly. Proper inspections of the hoist are also recommended.
  •  The hoist user is required to use personal protective equipment that forms part of the control measures of any risk assessment.
  • If you need to lift loads in more than one place using a hoist, the experts recommend mounting the hoist on a mobile frame called a gantry. This way, you can move the hoist where it is needed.
  • The anchoring point you use to secure your hoist on must be strong enough to carry more than the actual capacity of the hoist. Remember that the weight of the hoist, the weight of the connectors and slings, and the weight of the load must be part of your calculations.
  • If it is not possible to have a mobile hoist, then the load must be brought into a suitable position under the chain hoist so that it is vertical. The hook must always be above the center of gravity of the load.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations by reading the information carefully and attentively, and follow the training material of the center where you do training.

Any lifting machine or equipment can be dangerous if shortcuts are taken, and it is proven that most workplace accidents occur as a result of an unsafe act.


If you follow basic guidelines from manufacturers and get expert training from an approved provider, it becomes possible to lift safely with a hoist. Hoists are not made to pull loads horizontally, and you should never do it.

I hope that the information in the post will help you lift loads safely using a hoist.  


Similar Posts