Checking your Synthetic Slings. What should you be looking for?
Synthetic slings are some of the most common pieces of rigging equipment found on site because they’re strong enough to support heavy loads but are extremely versatile and can be used effectively for a variety of different applications.
However, because they are so inexpensive, they are often used and abused. They’re also more susceptible to environmental damage, including extreme temperatures, chemical exposure, and UV degradation.
Round slings have an advantage in that they can minimise damage to the item being lifted because they support the load with a soft, flexible contact surface. The load bearing core sits beneath a protective cover that cannot be removed for inspection without destroying the sling. Because this cover can’t be removed the condition of the sling is assessed by inspecting and feeling the condition of the outer core.
It’s a requirement under Australian Standard that synthetic slings are inspected every three months by a competent person – someone sufficiently trained and experienced to detect and evaluate any defects or weaknesses that may affect its performance.
But in addition to a periodic inspection, it’s extremely important that you conduct a visual check of your synthetic slings before using them. Damage to a sling can happen at any time. Taking a few minutes to inspect your sling prior to each use can minimise the risk of failure and could save your life.
So, what do you need to look for?
FLAT WEBBING SLINGS
1. External wear – caused by dragging over rough surfaces causes an opening out of surface fibres (with a furry appearance). The outer faces of the webbing my become so worn that yarns in the weave are severed. The label may become damaged.
2. Local abrasion – Local abrasion will be caused by movement over sharp edges while the sling is under tension, which will result in a loss of strength.
3. Cuts and contusions – may be indicated by local rupturing or loosening of the yarns.
4. Internal wear – will be caused by repeated flexing, particularly when particles of grit or dirt have penetrated the fibres. The presence of grit or dirt may indicate internal wear.
5. Damage to protective coating or sleeve – Any damage to a protective coating or sleeve can allow damage to the sling.
6. Damage from high temperatures – High temperatures can result from a hot environment, radiation or friction. High enough temperatures will cause fusing or shrinkage of synthetic webbing. Fusion is able to occur at temperatures approximately equal to the melting point of the polymer from which the fibres have been made.
7. Sunlight degradation – Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation (including sunlight) of any textile fibres will weaken the fibres. Degradation may be indicated by a hairy appearance of fibres.
8. Chemical attack – Chemical attack is usually indicated by the local weakening or softening of the webbing material In some cases it may cause some stiffening of the sling. In extreme cases surface fibres are reduced to powder.
9. Other Factors: Label damage, Deterioration of stitching, Damage of any eyes, Damage at the connection to any terminal attachment, Damage to any end fittings.
In addition to the above checks, the following checks apply to round slings:
1. The cover has been damaged.
2. The stitching has been damaged.
3. The label of the sling is missing or is illegible, and the sling cannot be positively identified.
4. Any of the load bearing fibres are damaged. Any damage to a cover indicates potential damage to the load bearing core. Any cuts in the cover should raise serious doubts as to the integrity of the load bearing core. Fibres of a protective cover that are fused or glazed indicates that the sling has been excessively heated (e.g. by friction in a choke hitch, by externally applied heat).
5. Chemicals have caused any damage (e.g. local weakening, softness of the cover, flaking of surface fibres). In such cases, damage to the load bearing core should be assumed.
6. Any coupling components or fittings are distorted, cracked, fractured or excessively worn or corroded.
7. If any other dangerous condition is confirmed.
Don’t gamble with your lifting gear!
If you’ve checked your sling and you’re still unsure whether it’s safe for use, remove it from service and give us a call. Our competent inspectors can check the sling and determine whether it’s safe for use.