Synthetic web slings are no less than a scientific marvel. You can use them in virtually any lifting or rigging application. They are lightweight, highly flexible, affordable, and durable. Most importantly, they can easily mold to the shape of a load. So, they are fit for rigging delicate and highly finished loads because there is less risk of marring or scratching. Many industries, including shipping, mining, construction, and manufacturing, use synthetic slings regularly.
The sling material often consists of synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon. They come in various standardized sizes. You can choose a suitable sling depending on your rigging application or the type of load.
However, you do need to consider a few things when using synthetic web slings. Otherwise, you may risk damaging the load and/or injuring your crew.
Web slings are a type of synthetic slings suitable for handling delicate and oddly shaped loads. Although they are sturdy and durable, you do need to consider a few safety issues. Here’s what you need to keep in mind before each use.
One of the first things you need to keep in mind is never to exceed a web sling’s rated capacity. You can see it on the identification tag. Always find out the weight of the load. Make sure it never exceeds the rated capacity of the web sling.
When required, you can select a combination of synthetic lifting slings based on working load limits. You also need to take the size, weight, and type of load into account. Other factors you need to consider are the type of hitch, web sling types, and work environment.
Make sure to train all web sling users. It is a must to ensure the safety of your crew and the load. Both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines state that only a well-trained or qualified person should use lings. As an employer, you should train new crew members before asking them to rig or lift a load.
Although strong, web slings do have rigging limitations. To ensure safety, you should never let any of your crew stand under or near a suspended load. They should also never stand in line with or next to rigging under tension.
The rigged load can become snugged or hung-up during handling. Also, if the sling breaks in either situation, it can lead to a fatal accident. In short, every crew member needs to understand how web slings react under tension or when rigged.
Even slightly damaged slings are highly likely to fail during rigging. In other words, sling inspection is a must before each use. Check each sling for visible damages such as holes, cuts, abrasions, corrosion, and web color fading. In addition to this, regular inspection from experts is also recommended, which we will cover later in this post.
Apart from UV light degradation, web slings are also susceptible to heat, chemical, environmental, and mechanical damage. However, proper storage and maintenance can extend the life expectancy of slings. We will discuss web sling maintenance in detail later in this post.
Apart from these standard safety issues, there are a few other things you need to keep in mind when using web slings. For your convenience, we have divided these points into Dos and Don’ts.
Regular sling inspection and its documentation are quite essential. It ensures not only OSHA compliance but also the safety of your crew. The two most common industry standards for sling inspection are OSHA 1910.184 and ASME B30.9. You need to follow these standards.
Usually, a designated person can carry out a routine inspection. But you do need a qualified person to conduct the periodic inspection. There are three types of sling inspections that you need to carry out.
The initial inspection is to be done before using a web sling for the first time. Generally, you should do this after receiving the slings from the manufacturer. This inspection helps you determine if the sling is:
As the name suggests, you need to conduct this sling inspection before each use. You should appoint a designated and competent person to do this inspection. It is a primarily visual inspection to check the web slings for potential damage or defects. It also helps you determine if the web slings are suitable for the intended rigging or lifting job.
This sling inspection needs to be performed by a certified professional or a qualified crew member. Generally, an annual inspection (carried out once a year) is enough. However, the frequency of periodic sling inspection depends on the following three critical factors.
Usually, higher usage frequency and more sever working conditions mean you will need to inspect the slings quite often. ASME makes the following sling inspection recommendations based on the severity of the work environment.
Web slings are designed to last under harsh work conditions. However, they are bound to wear out over time. If you come across the following deformities or defects, remove the web slings from use immediately.
Frayed web fibers and uneven or disoriented yarn surfaces are often a sign of abrasions. If you can see the warning yarns, the damage is quite serious. You should replace such slings immediately.
Acid damage occurs when slings get exposed to acidic conditions or materials. Distorted or charred webbing is a sign of damage by acids or other corrosive liquids. This damage severely affects the strength of a sling. If you find this damage, you must discontinue the slings from use.
Cuts are easily noticeable. They can be caused by excessive tensions or sharp objects. Using web slings for lifting sharp-edged loads is one of the common reasons behind this type of damage. You should never use a sling, even if it has a minor cut.
Excessive loading can cause tensile damage. Fuzzy-looking web yarn is often a sign of tensile damage. If you see this sign, discontinue using the sling right away.
In addition to these, you will come across a few other signs of potential damage or reduction in strength. Remove the web slings from the use immediately if you see any of the following signs.
As they are often subject to punishing work conditions, slings will get damaged eventually. However, you can certainly extend their life with proper maintenance. Keeping the following things in mind can help you maintain slings in excellent condition for a long time.
Synthetic web slings are versatile, durable, and cheap, which makes them a popular rigging and lifting choice. But they do have limitations and require regular care. It can help ensure your safety and increase the life expectancy of slings. Hopefully, after reading this post, you will understand the nitty-gritty details about web sling inspection, maintenance, and overall safe usage. You can reach out to the rigging experts at HHI for more information or buying suitable web slings. We can help you with all things rigging and lifting.