Stay safe and compliant with these
rigging gear inspection tips.
The best way to tell if it's time to upgrade your rigging and lifting gear starts with regular inspections, ideally before and after each use. When you're trying to get a job done, it's easy to fall out of the habit of inspecting your gear. But, compared to the alternatives options of either failing an official inspection or having your gear fail while in use, regular rigging gear inspection is well worth it.
So, whether you're using wire rope, chain slings, synthetic web slings, round slings, or any type of rigging hardware, here are the warning signs to look for when inspecting your rigging gear.
Wire Rope Inspection
Wire rope is often combined with wire rope clips and thimbles and also used in wire rope slings that are great for a variety of lifts. It's also commonly used on specialty vehicles, like tow trucks, as a winch line. Between load stress, environmental conditions, and abrasion, there are many factors that can shorten the life of wire rope.
Regularly inspect your wire rope and discard it if any of the following is evident:
- Excessive broken wire
- Distortion or kinking
- Severe corrosion
- Shiny worn spots on the outside of the rope
- A one-third reduction in the outer wire diameter
- Damaged or displaced hooks, link, rings, or other end fittings
Chain Sling Inspection
Yes, even the strongest chain slings, like a mighty grade 120 chain sling, can become overly stressed and eventually unsafe to continue using. Heat, chemicals, and heavy loads all take a toll on a chain slings longevity.
If you notice any of the following on your chain slings, cut them up into 3' to 4' lengths (to prevent salvaging) and then recycle them:
- Stretched or overly-elongated links
- Kinks or binding
- Nicks or gouges in links
Synthetic Web Sling Inspection
The softness and flexibility of polyester and nylon lifting slings make them great for lifting fragile or expensive cargo. But just because they're lifting delicately, doesn't mean that can't become worn out and dangerous to use.
Discontinue use and cut the sling into 3' to 4' lengths (and cut the eye) if you notice any of the following:
- Snags, tears, or cuts
- Melting or charring of any surface area
- Acid or caustic burns
- Broken or worn stitching
- Elongation that exceeds manufacturer's recommendation
- Distortion of any fittings
Polyester Round Sling Inspection
Round slings are a versatile, strong, and cost-efficient tool for lifting a variety of cargo types. Polyester round slings contain a continuous loop of polyester yarn inside and a durable polyester fabric on the outside that is usually color-coded by lifting capacity.
While round slings are able to handle large loads, even the smallest rip, cut, or tear is enough to make it unsafe for use. If you notice these issues during inspection, cut the sling in half to retire it from service:
- Exposure of the yarn core or broken or damaged yarn
- Heat damage
- Discolored, brittle, or stiff areas
- Acid or caustic burns
Rigging Hardware Inspection
Common pieces of rigging hardware used for lifts include: shackles, turnbuckles, hooks, links and swivels, rings, wire rope clips, and thimbles. The integrity of these smaller items is vital to rigging safety.
Prior to using rigging hardware, visually inspect each piece and discontinue use if you notice the following:
- Excessive nicks, gouges, or corrosion
- Bent, twisted, elongated, or cracked load-bearing components
- Reduction in original dimension by 10% or more
- Indication of heat damage
- Missing or illegible load rating information
Purchase Smart, Use With Confidence
If any of the above signs are evident during your routine inspection, it's likely time to replace your rigging gear. Similar to knowing your rigging inspection checklist, it's helpful to learn what to look for when buying rigging and lifting gear so you can always ensure that you're using the best equipment for the job, and enjoy years of safe use.
For official rigging equipment inspection requirements see OSHA section 1926.251.