Wire rope slings and synthetic rigging slings, like any piece of equipment at your job site, are subject to wear and tear and are not designed to last forever. And while it might be financially advantageous to keep slings in operation as long as humanly possible, doing so can be extremely dangerous. Trust us, you do NOT want to be around when a weathered sling that should’ve been retired years ago fails in the middle of a job. Worn or damaged slings need to be taken out of commission well before this happens. Here’s what you should know when it comes to identifying damaged slings and retiring them properly.
How to Tell if a Sling is Bad
Before every rigging application begins, it’s best to thoroughly inspect your slings and hardware for damage. Common signs of excessive damage include:
- Targeted outer wear
- A reduction in wire diameter
- Broken wires
- Displaced fittings
- Kinking or “birdcaging” of the wire itself
- Burn marks
- Missing or illegible capacity tags
If you notice any of these warning signs, the safest bet is to replace the sling. If you aren’t sure whether a piece of equipment can be used for the application at hand, you can always err on the side of caution or have an expert rigging technician inspect the equipment on your behalf.
Repurposing Damaged Slings
At John Sakach, we always prefer to take damaged equipment out of commission and retire it on behalf of customers. And naturally, we receive some pushback on occasion from those wanting to hang onto it. The problem here is that we like to be 100 percent certain that the product won’t find its way onto another job site or anywhere else that it might be used improperly. Unfortunately, too many damaged chain or synthetic slings end up on private farms for hauling logs, moving equipment, or securing loads. And all too often, these practices end in disaster. Bottom line: using a damaged sling for any sort of utilitarian purpose is dangerous and we do not recommend it.
Disposing of Damaged Slings
It’s worth noting that professional organizations like OSHA do not have regulations in place that address damaged rigging gear disposal protocols, so consider this as more of a professional recommendation rather than a strict statute or decree. Our advice for disposing of damaged slings is in the name of safety.
Instead of tossing damaged slings in the dumpster, we recommend grabbing a knife and/or blowtorch and destroying them by hand. With wire and synthetic slings, we suggest cutting the eyes open and the body into pieces to effectively render the sling inoperable. If the body itself is long enough to fashion a new eye, keep cutting! For chain slings or hardware assemblies, you’ll want to cut the sling eyes and torch or hacksaw the collector ring and/or hardware for the same reason.
Even worn or damaged slings can be awfully tempting finds for penny pinchers looking to squeeze the last bit of life out of the apparatus. When destroyed prior to disposal, they’re of no practical use to prospective dumpster divers and you can be sure they won’t be used dangerously in a future rigging application.
When in working order and used properly, a chainsaw can certainly help you chop down a tree safely and efficiently. But if that same tool is damaged and used in an unsafe manner, it can be dangerous to the operator as well as anyone in proximity to the project. Slings are no different. At John Sakach, we stand by our products 100 percent but ONLY when they are used properly and as part of the application for which they are designed. Every sling is prone to wear and tear over time (yes, even ours) and even the best slings in the world can become dangerous and even deadly if used improperly or after being damaged. When you have damaged slings, it’s always best to destroy them and dispose of them properly. Keep your operations safe and when it’s time for replacement products, our John Sakach team will be more than happy to get you squared away with a new set of reliable and versatile slings. Contact us today to learn more.