- Identify which sling type should be used based on condition, situation, and load type.
- Describe the purpose of and procedures for inspecting sling equipment.
- Demonstrate general safe operating practices for any type of sling.
- Describe practices to safely use alloy steel chain slings, including attachments, safe operating temperatures, and when to remove from service.
- Describe practices to safely use wire rope slings, including attachments, safe operating temperatures, and when to remove from service.
- Describe practices to safely use natural and synthetic fiber rope slings, including their attachments, safe operating temperatures, and when to remove from service.
- Describe practices to safely use synthetic web slings, including attachments, safe operating temperatures, and when to remove from service.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “All employees in numerous workplaces take part in materials handling, to varying degrees. As a result, some employees are injured. In fact, the mishandling of materials is the single largest cause of accidents and injuries in the workplace. Most of these accidents and injuries, as well as the pain and loss of salary and productivity that often result, can be readily avoided.”
Slings are simple machines and useful devices for making things happen around high-risk job sites, and they are frequently employed for certain tasks with utility and electrical work.
To prevent potential accidents due to damaged equipment, slings must be inspected each day before use by a competent person designated by the employer. The sling and all fastenings and attachments must be inspected for damage or defects. Additional inspections must be performed during sling use, where service conditions warrant.
Here’s a quick behavioral guide for working with slings…
Safe Practices for Utility & Electrical Personnel
- Do not use damaged or defective slings.
- Do not use non-approved, makeshift slings.
- Do not shorten slings with knots, bolts or other makeshift devices.
- Make certain that sling legs are not kinked.
- Never exceed the sling’s rated capacity, or working load limit.
- Securely attach the sling to its load.
- Never place your hands or fingers between the sling and its load while the sling is being tightened around the load.
- Protect the sling from cuts and abrasions by padding sharp corners.
- Keep all employees clear of loads about to be lifted or suspended.
Before being lifted completely from resting, loads must be checked for proper balance. Slings used in a basket hitch must also have the loads balanced to prevent slippage. “Shock loading” is prohibited. Once the load has been lifted or suspended, it must be kept clear of all obstructions. If the load is resting on the sling, workers must not try to pull the sling out from underneath the load, which could damage the sling. To increase its service life, store the sling in a clean, dry location to prevent damage and contamination.
Digger Derrick Trucks in the utility industry commonly use alloy steel chain slings with a rope winch line to pick up wooden poles and lift large pad-mounted transformers. Alloy steel chain slings must have permanently affixed durable identification stating size, grade, rated capacity, and reach.
Hooks, rings, oblong or pear shaped links, welded or mechanical coupling links or other attachments must have a rated capacity at least equal to the alloy steel chain with which they are used. Otherwise, the sling must not be used in excess of the rated capacity of the weakest component. In other words, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Also, workers are never to use makeshift links or fasteners formed from bolts, rods, or other such attachments with alloy steel chain slings.
In addition to generally expecting sling equipment, a thorough periodic inspection must be made on alloy steel chain slings on a regular basis. These inspections are determined by the frequency of sling use; the severity of service conditions; the nature of lifts being made; and the experience gained on the service life of slings used in similar circumstances. These inspections must be performed at least once a year, as a rule.
Inspection of alloy steel chain slings must be performed by a competent person designated by the employer to inspect slings and must include a thorough examination of wear, defective welds, deformation, and an increase in length. If an inspection reveals defects or deterioration, the sling must be immediately removed from service—why risk it? Employers are required to maintain a record of the most recent month of the inspection and make the record available for examination.
Repairing and Reconditioning:
- Worn or damaged slings or attachments must not be used until repaired.
- When welding or heat testing is performed, slings must not be used unless repaired, reconditioned and proof tested by the manufacturer.
- Mechanical coupling links or low carbon steel repair links must not be used to repair broken lengths of chain.
Conditions that require removal from service include:
- Cracked or deformed master links, coupling links, or other components.
- Hooks that are cracked, have been opened more than 15 percent of the normal throat opening measured at the narrowest point, or twisted more than 10 degrees from the plane of the unbent hook.
- Chain size at any point of any link is less than that stated by 29 CFR 1910.184, the governing standard.