Car tires grow old. Roof shingles fall off. Your trustworthy boots finally lose their sole. Eventually, almost everything needs to be replaced after years of frequent use – and rigging equipment is no different. You must replace your lifting and rigging gear as necessary, for the safety of your employees and the protection of your loads.

The longer you wait to make a switch, the more risks your job site faces daily.

There are conflicting pieces of advice about when to replace items like lifting slings, but every rigging professional will agree that necessary inspections and replacements should occur regularly. Most organizations demand annual inspections, if not more frequent checkups.

We’ve crafted a post about the signs of damage your lifting equipment can show, and when you know you need to replace tools. Our goal is to help you stay 100 percent compliant, safe, and ahead of workplace disaster.

Is Your Lifting Equipment Showing Signs of Heat Damage?

Lifting Equipment

The first question to ask yourself relates to your equipment’s environment. If it’s consistently used in heat and sun, you’ll need to look for signs of heat damage.

Some lifting equipment is built to handle high temperatures and UV exposures. Others? Not so much. Understand from the get-go which pieces of equipment are more predisposed to sun damage than others.

For example, when shackles are heat-treated during production, they can often experience a reverse treatment in the field. They might become discolored or blue-colored, which indicates heat damage that you can’t ignore.

Keep an eye out for serious discoloration, cracks, and other potential signs of heat damage. When possible, store your lifting equipment in a temperature-controlled space to avoid frequent replacements.

Can You Still Read the Load Rating Info?

old equipment’s load rating information

Next, you need to double-check to see if you can still read your old equipment’s load rating information. If you can’t, it’s likely time to replace that piece of machinery to avoid potential mistakes.

You must know the load rating info for every piece of rigging equipment. In all lifting operations, safety should be the first priority. Understanding what your lifting equipment can do – and what it’s limitations are – is the first step to protecting employees and loads.

Roughly one in every five worker deaths every year happens at a construction site. It’s your company’s responsibility to do everything possible to minimize the biggest four causes of construction worker fatalities: falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught in/between an object.

Look for the marked space on your lifting equipment. The load rating should indicate the tool’s Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS). You’ll also be able to find the tool’s yield strength, which describes the highest internal stress level a certain material can handle without becoming deformed.

Keep in mind that many of your high-tensile materials (like quenched and/or tempered steels) have a small band between their yield and their ultimate weight, which means they can easily break.

On all of your rigging equipment, labels should be located in an easily accessible place and include all of the necessary information. If they aren’t viewable, or they’ve been damaged or rubbed off, it’s time to look into some replacement hardware.

Do You Spot Corrosion, Nicks, or Gouges?

damage on any of your rigging equipment

Obvious damage on any of your rigging equipment is a sign that you’re getting close to replacement time. When you’re at the job site, watch out for:

  • Melting and/or Charring

At the first sign of melting or charring, you need to consider taking the lifting equipment out of service. You’ll see blackened, hard spots, as well as potential speckles from welding damage. Take these warning signs seriously – don’t wait until they evolve into something more dangerous.

  • Holes, Cuts, and Tears

Although some wear and tear is expected on slings and other rigging hardware items, take each piece of damage seriously. Evaluate whether the item’s strength and safety have been compromised. With slings, determine if the inner thread damage is minimal or severe.

  • Excessive Abrasions

Notice frayed fibers on any slings. This is caused when a load slips in a sling or a sling is pulled from under a load. Excessive signs of abrasion must always be taken seriously.

Extensive damage to your rigging gear won’t fly during equipment inspections. Faulty hardware dramatically increases the risk of life-threatening injuries, load damage, and even deaths. OSHA heavily regulates rigging requirements – and that includes the mandated disposal of impaired rigging gear.

Overall, look for signs of damage that compromises the integrity and safety of your lifting equipment. Bent, cracked, twisted, or elongated load-bearing pieces are extremely dangerous, as are pieces of equipment that are missing bolts or snap rings.

Some specifics to watch out for in different kinds of rigging hardware:

  • Wire Ropes Slings

Because wire ropes slings are used to move loads carefully, you need to avoid all forms of corrosion, bending, abrasions, and stress. Also keep in mind that environmental conditions can deteriorate ropes slings, leading to quicker replacement times.

Watch out for damaged hooks, latches/rings, distortions, and/or excessive wear. All of these are signs that a wire rope or sling is unsafe to use anymore.

  • Alloy Chains

Alloy chains are used in many industries, and although they are highly resistant to corrosion and wear, even the strongest ones can deteriorate over time. This is especially true if the chains are exposed to rough environments – extreme hot or cold, storms, wind, etc.

Watch for welding defects, deformed linked, distortions, rust, and heat damage. These are indications that it’s time to look for replacement alloy chains.

  • Synthetic Web and Round Slings

Typically made of polyester, nylon, or polypropylene, synthetic slings can absorb huge shock sand easily adjust load contours. Still, you need to watch out for sling-related hazards. Monitor for symptoms of acid burns, melting, charring, wear, tears, and distortion.

If you’re frequently working in extreme environments, consider looking into Silverback HHIperlift Slings from Holloway Houston. These synthetic slings are exceptionally lightweight, but they are also adaptable to high and low temperatures.

To Sum It All Up

To summarize, you must always take wear and tear to your lifting equipment seriously. Watch for major problems, damage, and safety compromises.

Replacing your rigging hardware might be a hassle and an expensive task, but it’s essential to the safety of your job site and employees. Don’t wait until it’s too late to switch to a new, much safer option.

If you need help inspecting your lifting equipment for signs of serious damage, talk to our team at Holloway Houston Inc. We provide comprehensive rigging inspection services that comply with all procedures set by ASME, OSHA, and manufacturers.

All of our engineers have an extensive knowledge base and will ensure that your rigging hardware meets the highest standards of safety and integrity. We’ll even provide you with a detailed visual report that points out problem spots and offers repair recommendations.

To learn more about Holloway Houston Inc. inspections, contact us today. Rigging experts will reach out to you shortly to set up an inspection or answer any questions you may have.