First, as per the present standards, it is important to know that the horn is not mandatory on all lifting equipment. In fact, the standards refer more often to warning devices instead of horns. And when it gets specific, it is usually related to special equipment, such as an overhead crane with cabins, for example.
So, the question would be: why would an inspector consider non-compliant an equipment that doesn’t have a horn installed?
Why does my inspection report indicate the horn as “non-compliant”?
When the equipment is in use in the province of Quebec, we must consider the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety (RSST fr.). The clause 259-2o (RSST, S-2.1, R.13) mentions that “a hoisting device shall be equipped with a warning device when the hoisting device is motorized” and “the warning device shall be used each time that a load is moved over a work station or a traffic area.” In addition, the following Q&A, in collaboration with a RSST regional branch phone agent, enlightens us a little more.
Question: A horn is installed on most of the overhead cranes in Quebec. But not when it comes to a manual monorail or jib. Since the lifting part of that kind of equipment is motorized, should a horn be installed on it to suit the clause 259?
Answer: The clause 259 requires a horn when the lateral motion is motorized (such as an overhead crane). But when this motion is manual, such as most of the monorails, jibs and static hoists, a horn can be installed or not at the employer’s discretion.
Question: Does the warning device have to be a horn, or could it be a flashing light?
Answer: The horn is mandatory. The reason is that a visual warning device may not be seen by others. However, installing a light signal such as strobe or flashing light would be fine too. In the end, it is the employer’s responsibility to acquire the best warning device to avoid accidents.
Question: Should an automatic activation of the warning device be acceptable when someone activates a function, or is it mandatory to activate it manually (with a push button for example)?
Answer: The RSST minimum requirement is that the warning device could be activated manually by the operator with a push button.
Another factor to take into account: in certain environments, the horn is not a sufficient measure. The employer must be aware of the standards that apply in those environments.
For example, in mining and foundry environments, the RSSTM and RSHTF applies as the reference standards regarding to horn usage:
S-2.1, r. 14 – Regulation respecting occupational health and safety in mines;
S-2.1, r. 15 – Regulation respecting safety and health in foundry works.
In those particular environments, the legal requirements regarding warning devices might differ from the RSST standards.
Since no revision is planned on RSST clauses at short terms, it should be applied in the best way possible in order to prevent accidents and reinforce safety.