Last edited 20 Nov 2020



A winch is a piece of mechanical equipment used to move heavy items. Winches work by either pulling in or letting out rope or wire rope (also known as cable), or adjusting the tension of the rope.

Winches are often used to pull or drag items along surfaces which are level, as opposed to hoists which lift and lower things vertically. Winches are often used when areas of a site are inaccessible by cranes or other moving equipment.

While winches can be very simple devices, those used for construction purposes are often more elaborate, with gear assemblies and powered by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or internal combustion drives.

A common type of winch is air-powered, known as an air winch, and often used for the pulling, suspending or tensioning of materials.

As with hoists, the wire rope that is used with winches, should be considered in terms of the following characteristics that determine their suitability according to the application – size, classification, rope lay, grade of steel, type of core, and nominal strength.

Winches should be regularly checked for defects and deterioration by competent individuals, with routine maintenance carried out at intervals suggested by the manufacturer.

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