How to Tell When It’s Time for New Rigging Gear

Whether you’re inspecting wire rope, chain slings, synthetic web slings, round slings, or any type of rigging hardware, here are the warning signs of potential rigging equipment failure.

rigging gear inspection checklist

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

inspection checklist for wire rope

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

inspection checklist for chain slings

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

inspection checklist for synthetic web slings

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

inspection checklist for polyester round slings

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

inspection checklist for rigging hardware

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.

4 Tips for Buying the Right Rigging & Lifting Equipment

If you work in the rigging and lifting industry you know that, when lives are on the line, close is never close enough. Safety measures, procedures, and equipment specs have to be spot-on.

Maintaining a safe job site starts with having the proper equipment for the job. But, with thousands of different rigging products, each with their own distinct characteristics, capabilities, and reputation, many riggers face the struggle of trying to choose the correct rigging and lifting equipment for the job.

Here are the 4 main things to pay attention to when deciding which rigging and lifting products are best for your particular job.

 

1. Assess what your lifting

To start, you need to assess the object or objects you are needing to lift or rig up. Does the object have sharp corners? Where is the center of gravity in your load? How much lifting space do you have? Asking these questions first will help to narrow down the potential rigging gear you can safely and effectively use for the job.

 

 

2. Know your Load Limit

working load limit on lifting gear for safety

Working load limit is the maximum weight that can safely be applied to a given piece of rigging equipment. It’s different for each individual piece of equipment, so be sure to pay close attention to this when selecting your rigging and lifting gear. Just one weak area puts the entire operation at risk. Check the weight of your load first, then ensure that you only buy equipment that is rated for that weight or more.

 

 

3. Consider Temperature & Environment

tips for choosing best rigging and lifting equipment

In applications that experience extremely high or low temperatures, certain equipment may not operate properly. For example, if you’re working in a high-heat environment, you will want to use wire rope with an independent wire rope core (IWRC) instead of a fiber core (FC). Also, consider the worksite environment. If saltwater is a factor, buy stainless steel rigging gear to prevent corrosion.

 

 

4. Opt for Quality

high quality lifting and rigging gear for manufacturing industry

Strength and durability is the name of the game when it comes to rigging and lifting gear. For the best chance of avoiding accidents and equipment that wears out quickly, you’ll want to ensure that you’re purchasing high-quality rigging equipment from trustworthy sources. It may not always be the most affordable choice, but it will be the smartest choice in the long run.

 

The importance of buying the right equipment is clear when you consider the stakes of lifting and handling heavy loads. Don’t guess. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the job at hand before buying. When you do buy rigging and lifting supplies, be sure to check all the manufacturer specifications and ask questions if you’re unsure.

USCC has a team of dedicated product consultants that are just a phone call away. If you have product questions or would like to place an order over the phone instead of on our website, give them a call at 800-404-7068.

 

How to Safely Apply Wire Rope Clips to Wire Rope Assemblies

This video shows you how to safely apply wire rope clips to wire rope assemblies. Depending on the size of your assembly, two to three wire rope clips are generally required. See below for a full transcript of the video. 

 

 

For more information on the differences among wire rope clips and how to choose the correct one, see our How to Use Wire Rope Clips post.

Safety Notes: Always inspect wire rope for wear and abuse before applying wire rope clips. Apply wire rope clips over bare wire rope only. Use wire rope thimbles to protect the eye from being crushed and to prevent wear and abrasion on the rope.  Never use a wire rope clip to directly connect two straight lengths of wire rope.
 

An important phrase to remember when applying a wire rope clip is “Never Saddle a Dead Horse”. This means you should never apply the saddle side of the clip over the dead end of the rope – the live end should always rest in the saddle. See above video for a demonstration. 

Step 1.   

Turn back the specified amount of rope from the thimble. Apply first clip one base width from the dead end of the rope. Tighten nuts evenly, alternating from one nut to the other until reaching the recommended torque. 

Step 2.  

If only two clips are required, apply the second clip as near the loop or thimble as possible. Remember, U-Bolt over dead end. Tighten nuts evenly, alternating until reaching the recommended torque.  

When applying more than two clips, apply the second clip as near the loop or thimble as possible, turn nuts on second clip firmly, but do not tighten.  

Step 3.   

Space additional clips equally between the first two. Apply tension and then tighten the nuts on each clip evenly, alternating from one nut to the other until reaching recommended torque. 

 

Purchase Wire Rope Clips and more from US Cargo Control 

From wire rope, wire rope clips, and wire rope thimbles, to chain hoists and material handling equipment, US Cargo Control has your rigging and lifting equipment needs covered. Visit US Cargo Control.com or call 866-444-9990.  With teams of dedicated consultants, we make sure you get what you want, when you need it.  

Sales Team Q&A: Guy Wire

Our latest Q&A responds to common questions the US Cargo Control sales team answers about rigging, specifically guy wire and its components. Guywire

Why is it called guy wire? 

Guy is defined as a rope, cord or cable used to steady, guide or secure something.  Guy wire is used to stabilize and secure antenna and utility towers.  The structure stays in place when the wire is attached to the tower and then anchored to the ground, creating a diagonal line. The tension from the cable and angle of securement stabilizes the tower, helping it withstand weight and wind.

1x7-EHS-Galvanized-Strand_1_375
Galvanized Guy Strand 1×7 and 1×19

 

What’s the difference between drop forged, malleable and precision cast in wire rope clips?

Drop forged wire rope clips are made for heavy duty jobs and are great as guy wire clamps. The drop forged steel coating provides extra strength and protection from the elements. However, these clips are not meant for overhead lifting.  They meet federal specifications FF-T0276b. Type III.

Precision cast wire rope clips are made of marine grade stainless steel and are typically used for water work. They are resistant to the salt in sea-water and materials used to de-ice. Their resistance to corrosion makes them ideal for harsh elements. These clips meet FED.SPEC.FF-C-450D.

Malleable wire rope clips are a softer clip typically used for light-duty work. They are often used to clamp the loose end of wire rope after forming an eye.

How is a shoulder eye bolt different from a regular eye bolt? 

Shoulder eye bolts and regular eye bolts differ in their intended uses for rigging. A regular eye bolt can be used for many different jobs, but for rigging, it should only be the tool of choice for vertical techniques. However, shouldered eye bolts can be used for angular jobs. The shoulder helps protect the shank from bending.  Keep in mind, angle loading reduces the bolt’s rating.

Questions

If you have questions, be sure to contact the US Cargo Control sales team at 800-866-3585. People can also email TowerProducts@USCargoControl.com.

 

Coated Cable



US Cargo Control offers 7×19 coated cable in stainless steel and galvanized finishes.  These coated cables are composed of 7 strands with 19 wires per strand, producing a cable that offers flexibility and superior resistance to corrosion.  As a coated cable, the protection intensifies, adding an extra layer to fend off dirt, grit, moisture and other abrasions.  Coated cable also seals in lubrication, reducing wear on accessories.  To shop coated cable and accessories, visit USCargoControl.com.

 

Stainless Steel Aircraft Cable



 

Stainless steel aircraft cable  from US Cargo Control comes in an aircraft cable type 304 or type 316 stainless steel finish.  Type 304 stainless steel aircraft cable is excellent at resisting corrosion.  The 7×19 construction of the cable provides flexibility and strength.  Type 316 cable provides the highest level of protection against corrosion.  Commonly referred to as marine grade stainless steel, it is ideal in high moisture environments.  For additional protection, vinyl coated stainless steel aircraft cable is also available.  To shop all of our wire rope and accessories, visit USCargoControl.com.

Stainless Cable



 

US Cargo Control offers a wide variety of stainless cable to fit your application.  Stainless cable can be found in the 6×19, 6×37 and 7×19 classes.  Stainless cable consists of wires, strands, and a core formed into a spiral pattern, which creates a strong, durable rope.  It’s excellent for outdoor use or harsh conditions due to its ability to not rust or corrode. For more information on stainless cable, or to shop our wire rope and accessories, visit USCargoControl.com.

IWRC Wire Rope



US Cargo Control carries a wide variety of wire rope for your application.  IWRC wire rope or independent wire rope core refers to the construction of the core of a wire rope.  When the outer strands of wire are wrapped around a steel core, it reduces stretch and increases the strength of the wire rope.  This also provides a higher resistance to crushing.  IWRC wire rope comes in bright wire, galvanized and stainless steel finishes.  For more information on IWRC wire rope, visit USCargoControl.com. 

7×19 Wire Rope



7×19 wire rope from US Cargo Control is an excellent general purpose steel cable.  Also referred to as aircraft cable, the construction includes 7 strands with 19 wires per strand in galvanized steel, creating a smaller diameter cable that is flexible and resistant to corrosion.  With many sizes and styles available, US Cargo Control is ready to help you with your 7×19 wire rope needs. 

Hoist Cable



US Cargo Control offers hoist cable in a wide variety of classes and finishes for nearly any application.  Using wire rope for a hoist cable is ideal in most situations since it is best in outdoor environments, remaining consistent in wet and dry climates.  Our category of  hoist cable includes 304 stainless steel, galvanized and bright wire cable.  Common classes of wire rope include 6×19, 6×37, and 7×19.  Visit US Cargo Control.com to shop our wide selection of hoist cable and other wire rope. 

Plastic Coated Cable



Plastic coated cable from US Cargo Control comes in 7×19 Stainless Steel or Galvanized finish.  A 7 strand with 19 wires per strand construction results in a cable that is flexible and creates excellent resistance to corrosion.  Adding a plastic coating adds a layer of protection that shields your cable from abrasions.  Plastic coated cable is easier to handle than non-coated steel cable and also seals in lubricant to reduce wear on pulleys and sheaves.  For more information on plastic coated cable, visit US Cargo Control.com.

How to Install Cable Railing

One of our newer popular product lines in cable railing, you can check this post: Cable Railing Systems for an overview of our wire cable rail products and also information on how to order.

We installed some cable railings in our warehouse to create a safe storage area above our safe room:

A few things to note when installing cable railing:

  • Before beginning, research the local building code requirements for railings, decks, etc.
  • The first step in configuring your design is determining the location of the end and intermediate posts. This is required first before you can determine cable lengths, number of cables and assemblies, and any hardware necessary. Generally, it’s best to install the posts prior to determining cable measurements.
  • Our cable assemblies are designed to go horizontally from the fixed end, through intermediate posts, and then tensioned or secured at secure end posts.
  • Using a turnbuckle is highly recommended, as it allows you to re-tension the cable if it ever starts to sag. It’s not necessary structurally to use a turnbuckle for 28′ or less cable , but including one can also increase the cable span allowance to up to 50′.
  • When accommodating corners, we recommend you terminate the cable and start a new run. While contractors may use a continuous run around a corner, it can impact the allowable cable span. If it’s necessary to run cable around a corner, the max. angle is typically 45° for 1×19 cable. This will preserve the cable’s integrity of the cable, and can be achieved by using a two post corner.

For more information on our stainless steel cable railing systems, see our  Cable Railing Systems to download a product catalog and guide. Products can be ordered by calling our sales specialists at 888-794-0584. They will also be happy to answer any questions you may have.