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Reducing Your Risk of Failure When Securing Cargo With Synthetic Slings

- July 5, 2016 by Brian Piñon, CSP (View all posts by Brian)

Synthetic slings are trusted to withstand forces of hundreds, even thousands of pounds. Regardless of how often they are used, proper care and maintenance reduces your risk of sling failure, injury, and property damage. In this blog I will review practical steps you can take to ensure every lift is a safe one.

Inspections: Slings and their attachments should be inspected daily prior to use, and taken out of service if damage is found that could affect the integrity of the equipment

You should be looking for broken or worn stitching, cuts, holes, knots in the sling, burn damage from heat or chemical exposure; and warped, cracked, or pitted fittings.

In addition to the daily pre-use inspection, more formal documented inspections should be conducted on a routine basis. The frequency of these inspections should be determined by how often the sling is used, the conditions it is used in, and manufacturer recommendations. Slings used daily, in hot environments, or in inclement weather should be inspected more often than ones used monthly and under less stressful conditions.

Note that workers should never attempt to alter or repair slings or their attachments. This includes tying knots or using makeshift devices to shorten a sling. There is no way to determine how an alteration may affect the load capacity without having the manufacturer load test it.

Use the right sling for the job: There are a variety of sling types and each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses

Synthetic webbing easily forms to the shape of a load but is more susceptible to damage from corrosive chemicals and cuts from sharp edges. I advise all my clients to use sling protection pads with their synthetic slings. The pads slide over the sling and are placed at the load edges to buffer the contact point and protect against wear.

Training: All workers expected to utilize slings should be trained on their limitations

Workers must understand load capacities, how to conduct pre-use inspections and safe work practices specific to your operation. Hands-on training will produce a higher degree of knowledge retention over traditional verbal instruction.

Consider having workers demonstrate safe sling use and/or have the group inspect a sling that should be taken out of service. Refresher training should be provided often enough that at any given time workers are found to be knowledgeable of hazards and safe work practices associated with sling use.

For additional information on using slings during the unloading/loading process, checkout my colleague Glen O’Rourke’s post, “Secure Your Safety When Unsecuring Material.”