Can You Use A Lever Hoist Upside Down?

When working with rigging, you may find yourself in a situation where there is not enough space to operate a lever hoist at the top, or you are not able to access the lever hoist when it is at the top of the rigging. In this case, you may ask yourself, can I use a lever hoist upside down, that is, with the lever mechanism at the bottom?

Most standard lever hoists cannot be used upside down as the excess chain from the ratchet uses gravity to pull it away from the mechanism. Operating it upside down may damage the hoist. Some motorized lever hoists are designed to work upside down with a chain catchment basket built in.

Lever hoists are efficient tools, using mechanics and rachets to lift and lower heavy objects. Unlike a traditional block and chain, a lever hoist can automatically lock an object in place at any height.

Across industries, it is one of the most versatile lifting tools. Keep reading to find out the correct use of a lever hoist and which lever hoists can and cannot be used upside down.

Can A Standard Manual Lever Hoist Be Used Upside Down?

Unfortunately, most standard chain lever hoists do not allow them to be used upside down safely.

A standard lever hoist should not be used upside down because the ratchet mechanism is designed to use the gravitational pull of the chain coming out the slack end of the mechanism to pull the chain down and away from the mechanism.

If the lever hoist not designed to work upside down is operated upside down, the chain may catch in the mechanism. Without a motor and basket or a lever designed to help shift the chain away from the ratchet, you should not operate it upside down.

Can You Damage A Manual Lever Hoist By Using It Upside Down?

You may have seen a lever hoist being used upside down and thought, ‘If someone else can do it, so can I!’, But be careful; this way of using it can damage the ratchet mechanism and the chain.

Without the chain being safely pulled away from the mechanism in the correct upright position, the chain may catch in the ratchet system, squeezing the chain links or putting pressure on the ratchet teeth. Over time these may weaken and damage the chain, rachet, or both.

Which Lever Hoist Can Be Used Upside Down?

Some chain hosts are specially designed to be used in an inverted position. Check the manufacturer specifications to ensure the hoist is designed for inverted use. These are usually motorized and are the only safe option when hoisting from the bottom up.

Be aware that these chain hoists are often designed for lighter work. Check that the lifting capacity meets your needs before hiring or purchasing one.

These chain hoists are intended for use only when it is impractical to carry the hoist body to an elevated anchor point. Because these hoists are often motorized with a chain basket attached, they are also often heavier, making them more difficult to lift to the anchor point.

How To Correctly Operate A Manual Lever Hoist

Lever Hoists are specialized lifting equipment and should be treated as such. Their designed purpose is to lift and lower heavy loads vertically without the aid of machinery.

Note that lever hoists are designed for lifting and lowering heavy objects safely, not for lifting and lowering objects quickly. Most lever hoists operate slowly and in small increments.

What Lever Hoists Consist Of And How They Work

Level Hoists usually come fitted with a heavy-duty swivel hook and safety catch on both ends of a chain. This chain is fitted through a ratchet system that operates in both directions.

Most lever hoists allow the hand wheel to be released so the operator can manually take up that slack in the chain before operating the lever, or the operator can lower the chain to the object before attaching it.

The mechanism works by cranking the lever to ratchet the chain up or down, depending on which position the ratchet lever is set.

NOTE: Before operating a lever hoist, always read the manufacturer’s safety and operating instructions that came with the hoist. Not all hoists work the same way, and you may need to familiarise yourself with the hoist.

6 Steps To Use A Lever Hoist

Follow these steps to operate a lever hoist correctly and safely:

Step 1: Only allow trained personnel to operate a lever hoist.

Because of the dangers of operating a lever hoist, ensure that the person using the hoist is trained to do so and that everyone near the hoist is wearing the correct personal protective equipment. Only one person should operate the lever hoist at a time.

Step 2: Set up the rigging

Ensure the anchor point you secure your lever hoist to is strong enough to hold the combined weight of the object, slings, and hoist.

  • Always use a hoist that is strong enough to hold more than the rated capacity of the hoist.
  • Decide on the best sling and hitch system to use on the object or identify the anchor point on the object.
  • Do not use the hoist’s chain as a choker sling, as this may unbalance your hoist. Use a sling and hitch system.
  • If you need to lift multiple loads at different locations, set up a gantry or multiple lift points on which to clip and unclip the lever hoist.

Step 3: Ensure your hoist is in the correct position before taking up the slack.

To avoid the object you are lifting from swinging when it is lifted off the ground, always ensure the lever hoist is directly above it.

Step 4: Inspect the hoist

Ensure all the parts of the hoist are in good working order. Test the ratchet, chain, and mechanism without any load attached, and see that everything works as it should.

Step 5: Test the hoist

Attach a small load to the hoist and test the hoist lifts correctly. Lower the test load and lift as many times as necessary until the operator is satisfied that the hoist is in good working order.

Step 6: Position the load and lift

Attach the load to the lever hoist and lift.

Can A Lever Hoist Be Used Horizontally?

Because a lever hoist uses a ratcheting system to create tension between two points, a lever hoist can be used horizontally.

Note that the chain must be facing down when the lever hoist is used horizontally so that it can flow freely from the system without catching or obstructing the movement of the ratchet system. In some cases, a basket or chain catchment may be necessary.


In most cases, standard lever hoists cannot be used upside down. The way the chain mechanism works means using a chain hoist upside-down may damage the ratchet or chain, and this should be avoided. Some motorized lever hoists are designed to work upside down with a chain catchment basket built in. However, this should be checked in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual before using a hoist upside down.

Some chain hosts are specially designed to be used in an inverted position. These are usually motorized and are the only safe option when hoisting from the bottom up.


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