Definition - What does Load Capacity mean?
Load capacity refers to the maximum demand, stress, or load that may be placed on a given system under normal or otherwise specified conditions for an extended period of time. In other words, it refers to the capacity of a system to continue to perform its intended function when supporting a specific amount of weight.
In occupational settings, load capacity usually pertains specifically to the maximum demand, stress, or load that can safely be placed upon a system without causing it to fail.
Safeopedia explains Load Capacity
Occupational safety regulations legally obligate employers to comply with load capacity designations. For instance, a vehicle's load capacity describes the amount of weight that it can carry safely, factoring in increases in risk that occur after a vehicle becomes overweight. The amount of weight that a crane or forklift can safely lift, that scaffolding can support, or that a vehicle can drive are all references to load capacity. The amount of impact and sustained load weight that a fall protection system must be able to withstand is also an example of load capacity.
OSHA has a number of specific rules that address load capacity. For instance, the construction standards (29 CFR 1926) require all individuals who operate powered cranes to be provided with information that includes the load capacity for which the crane has been rated. In order for a system to be compliant with relevant safety requirements, the determination of load capacity must be assessed by a qualified person in accordance with specific testing guidelines described by a recognized standards body such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Load-capacity safety standards emphasize that a system's load capacity must be readily available to its users and require that it be visibly posted on or around the system. The load capacity information presented in elevators is a notable example of this requirement. Employers are expected to maintain a system so that it remains capable of withstanding the load capacity for which it was originally certified.
OSHA also considers load capacity with reference to its general duty clause, which obligates employers to provide workers with a safe work environment. For instance, the general duty clause is commonly used to issue citations to employers for unsafe work practices that include the operation of equipment or vehicles that do not have their load capacity clearly labeled.