One of the most commonly used and important pieces of equipment in a rigging operation is the sling. Crafted in unlimited lengths and specifications, slings made from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester are excellent for bearing weight while remaining flexible and maneuverable. At Southwest Wire Rope, fabricating customized synthetic slings is one of our specialities.

Over the past 56 years, Southwest has become one of the most illustrious names in the rigging supply industry through our commitment to quality products. That’s why we take the longevity and condition of our equipment seriously. Synthetic slings, though durable and strong, will not last forever. It’s absolutely vital that you be able to identify the warning signs of the expiration of a sling’s life. Continuing to use a synthetic sling when it is past prime condition endangers not only the productivity of your entire operation, but also the safety of your employees. Keep reading to learn the telltale signs that it’s time to remove a synthetic sling from service.

The most obvious and threatening sign that a sling must be retired is damage. This may manifest through the appearance of holes, tears, or even minor cuts along the length of a sling. While synthetic slings are crafted to be incredibly strong, a small cut can compromise the entire integrity of the sling and eliminate its ability to effectively bear weight.

Damage can also pertain to conditions such as acid or alkaline burns, melting, charring, or weld splattering. Any of these traumas can degrade the fibers of the sling and cause a breakage.

When inspecting the sling for damage, also pay special attention to the fittings and hardware. If the fittings are stretched, nicked, or distorted in any way, the entire sling apparatus should be replaced.

This indicator is more elusive. If the sling identification tag is missing, damaged, or not completely legible, it’s time to retire the sling. With the long list of regulatory requirements from ASME, OSHA, the Department of Labor, and various manufacturer’s, you cannot afford to have even one piece of equipment in degrading condition.

Furthermore, if the ID tag of the sling is smudged or worn, it could indicate that the daily operations of the sling are more risky or damaging than expected.

When it doubt, sub it out. If any conditions arise that might jeopardize the strength or alignment of a sling, it should be replaced with a freshly fabricated one. If a sling becomes twisted or knotted, its load capacity instantly becomes reduced and its function less reliable. Synthetic slings also come with thin covers that protect the underlying fibers from damage; if the stitching of the cover is worn or broken through entirely, the sling is operating dangerously and must be removed from service.

How To Test the Durability of Synthetic Slings

When using slings of various thicknesses and lengths, it can be difficult to keep track of their capabilities. Consult a product specialist at Southwest Wire Rope to confirm the approximate capacity of your sling. Because slings come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, only an industry professional can give proper guidance.

Booking an on-site rigging inspection is also an excellent way to ensure the safety of your equipment. A Southwest team member can perform a comprehensive gear inspection to make sure every piece of your equipment is functioning properly and up to code. We also have the equipment to perform reliable break testing of various lifting devices, with load test certificates furnished upon completion of every test.

Southwest Wire Rope: Your Rigging Industry Partner

For the last 56 years, the professionals at Southwest have been serving the needs of the rigging and lifting industries with an unwavering dedication to quality and excellence. If you are in the market for synthetic slings, need your equipment tested, or are simply looking for an expert opinion, we can help. We look forward to answering your questions and forming a lasting partnership. For more information, browse our products and services or contact a rep today.