As stated in an OSHA interpretation, “Free rigging” is the direct attachment to or placement of rigging equipment (slings, shackles, rings, etc.) onto the tines of a fork-truck for a below-the-tines lift. This type of lift does not use an approved lifting attachment.
Although free rigging is a common practice, it could affect the capacity and safe operation of a fork-truck. Employers must seek written approval from fork-truck manufacturers when modifications and additions affect the capacity and safe operation of powered industrial trucks.
However, if no response or a negative response is received from the manufacturer, OSHA will accept a written approval of the modification/addition from a Qualified Registered Professional Engineer. A Qualified Registered Professional Engineer must perform a safety analysis and address any safety and/or structural issues contained in the manufacturer’s negative response prior to granting approval. Machine data plates must be changed accordingly.
Of course, the use of an approved attachment to make lifts would be a viable alternative for an employer who does not seek written approval from a manufacturer or a Qualified Registered Professional Engineer.