How to Ensure the Safe use of Wire Rope Slings?

Published: Thu 26 Sep 2013
A blog entry by Ethel Payne

Contributed by:

Ethel Payne

Ethel Payne's Blog


Wire rope slings are one of the most commonly used pieces of rigging equipment and if they aren’t used properly and keeping in mind the highest standards of safety, serious accidents can happen. Of course, you have plenty of safety equipment like fall protection products that can be pressed into use, to improve the safety standards of the work place, but nothing beats making sure that these slings are used safely. By ensuring the safe use of such rigging equipment, you can automatically improve the safety of your workplace.

Understanding Wire Rope Slings

The reason why such slings are commonly used is because wire ropes bring to slings all their associated benefits like durability, abrasion resistance and strength. Slings made from wire ropes are stronger than those made from other material and therefore can be used for a variety of applications. Typically, there are two kinds of wire ropes used in slings, a rope with a fiber core or one that has an Independent Wire Rope core (IWRC). If you are looking for a wire rope that can resist environmental damage and can be used in really very heavy lifting applications, you must go for a sling manufactured with core made of wire rope strands. Such slings are also heat resistant and can be used to lift hot materials.

Choice of the right Wire Rope Slings

Another aspect of safe sling use is the choice of the right sling. If you choose the wrong kind of sling whose rated load isn’t in sync with the load that it needs to carry, there is a chance of breakage or some other unfortunate accident. So, keep these pointers in mind while choosing your sling:

1. Talk to the manufacturer about your needs and requirements; go through the sling charts giving detailed information about angles and diameters and only then choose a wire rope sling, based on the application you are using it for and the slinging method that will be put into practice.
2. You must choose a sling whose length and strength conforms to the needs of the task.
3. While attaching the slings or using clips and clamps, make sure that the manufacturers guidelines are followed to the last letter.
4. Think about your hitch- The way/method of fastening a sling to the load is called a hitch, and this depends on the safe load limit of the sling. This is also an important consideration while choosing your sling. The choice of your hitch also plays a role in improving the safety of the wire rope sling.

While choosing a sling, take the advice of experienced riggers who have the expertise to identify the right wire rope sling for your needs.

The Safe Use of Wire Rope Slings

The safety aspect of wire rope slings is paramount and its safe use is completely dependent on the correct use of the equipment (follow the manufacturer instructions), the slinging procedures that must be used and the various accessories that must be used to improve the strength of the sling. To make sure that the sling is used the way it is supposed to be used, riggers must be well aware of all the properties of the sling and also make sure that the sling is inspected regularly before use. Proper inspection ensures that all the sling fittings are undamaged and tightened regularly.

Inspection and Maintenance

This is yet another aspect of the safe use of wire rope slings.

Let’s talk about inspection first. Visual inspection of slings is a must prior to each use and the one thing that the rigger or operator must check for, is twists or broken lays. If the damage is beyond permissible limits, the sling must not be used. The condition of the wire rope is of paramount importance in sling safety but other factors must be kept in mind too. For e.g. the end fittings are as important and damage to these fittings can seriously compromise the safety of the sling.

The maintenance of a wire rope sling has a direct impact on its safety. All slings are properly lubricated during the manufacturing process, but the levels of lubrication go down as the sling is used.  So, in order to improve its efficiency and shelf life, a wire rope sling must be lubricated frequently. This frequency is dependent on how often it is used, the kind of external pressure it is subject to, and the environment in which it is used. For e.g. if a wire rope sling is used regularly in humid weather conditions, it must be lubricated more frequently, then a wire rope that is used in dry weather.

By keeping these aspects in mind and putting them into practice, you will be able to ensure the safe use of wire ropes. But, it’s important to keep reading up on and implementing newer ways of ensuring wire rope sling safety.  What you must adhere to, is a comprehensive safety approach that takes into consideration each and every aspect that has the potential to compromise the safe use of the wire rope sling. This will guarantee the complete safety of your work place.