The secrets of safe slinging


A good slinger learns their trade only after practical training and lengthy experience. However here are my 10 tips on safe slinging highlighting basic principles and some of the major malpractices to be avoided at all costs:

  1. Evaluating the load

All practicable steps must be taken to establish the weight of any load - guessing is not good enough. In the case of multi-piece loads (eg a bundle of steel rods) one item may be weighed to calculate the total weight. If it is likely that the load may have to be lifted again, the weight should be clearly marked on it.

  1. Top lifting of hooks

Hooks are designed to support the bowl (inside the clasp). The hook of a sling must engage freely in the lifting point so that the weight of the load is supported in the bowl of the hook. All too often, wedging or forcing the hook tip into lifting points results in the hook being deformed into all sorts of shapes and ultimately made unsafe.

  1. Mis-use of shortening clutches

Mis-using shortened clutches is all too common. Operators must ensure, the chain carrying the load, always leads out of the bottom clutch and not out of the top otherwise the load may be released prematurely.

  1. Knotting, twisting and bending of chain

A chain is designed to support a load in a straight line of force running through the crowns of each chain link. When a chain gets twisted or, even worse knotted, the strength of the chain is compromised and could fail. Operators should remove any knots and twists in the chain before using and should never knot the chain to shorten it.

  1. Slingers duty of self-protection

Good protective clothing should always be worn. When the strain is taken on a sling, the slinger’s hands and feet should be clear of the load. They should then position themselves as to not risk injury – this is the slinger’s personal responsibility. The slinger must ensure they are in a safe place when receiving the load, ensuring they cannot be crushed between the load and a fixed object or pushed over an open edge.

  1. Shock loading

Crane drivers and slingers need to be aware of the dangers of shock loading. Shock loading refers to a sudden and drastic increase of load. 

Essentially tag lines should be used to help stabilise a load while enabling personnel to maintain a safe distance from the load. You should use a tag line when the load suspended by the crane is likely to swing back and forth (due to wind, external or other factors) creating a control hazard.

  1. Landing the load

The load should be landed gently to ensure it is not damaged and that the crane does not receive any shock loading. Before landing the load, check that the landing area will take the weight of the load, there is sufficient space for the load, there are strips of timber or similar on which to land the load such that the slings can be easily removed by hand.

  1. Hooking back unused legs

When using multi-leg slings with not all legs in use, the unused legs should be hooked back in the master link. Similarly, after finishing a lift, if the sling is to remain on the crane hook, all hooks should be hooked back into the master link or the master assembly.

  1. Sling stowage

When operators are finished, slings should be removed from crane hooks and stowed on a properly designed rack. They should not be left lying on the floor where they may suffer damage or may be lost.

If you need any assistance with your lifting requirements please get in touch

By Derek Barnbrook, managing director Crane Care

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