MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
"Hoisting and Towing Alternatives"
Slings have been developed that are made with high performance synthetic fibers that offer an alternative to chains or wire ropes. The slings are lighter and stronger than wire ropes or chains, and have other features that offer potential safety-related advantages.
Among these are:
- Lighter weight requires less people for handling, and can reduce injuries related to lifting and handling material. A 20-foot-long wire rope with a 50-ton capacity can weigh about 400 pounds. A synthetic fiber sling of the same length and strength weighs about 44 pounds.
- Lighter slings can reduce rigging time.
- Slings are available that do not exhibit catastrophic failure when pulled to destruction. These low stretch slings can reduce injuries caused by chains or wire ropes failing catastrophically when used for towing. The stored energy in ropes or chains causes them to "rebound" if they break, posing a serious threat to anyone nearby.