Off the Chain!

When celebrity judge Mel B shouts “Off the chain!” on America’s Got Talent she’s praising the act for a spectacular performance.  When the same might be blurted out in a manufacturing facility using alloy steel chain slings to hoist large fixtures and other heavy objects, it typically means trouble. 

Used for their strength, durability, and abrasion resistance, the failure of an alloy steel chain sling with a suspended load can have catastrophic consequences for the operator and expensive machining equipment.  For this reason, OSHA incorporates specific requirements in their Slings standard, 29 CFR 1910.184, on the identification, attachments, inspections, proof testing, safe operating temperatures, repair and reconditioning, wear effects, and deformed attachments for this versatile type of sling.

The identification of a new alloy steel chain sling from the manufacturer will specify the size, grade, rated load, and length along with the number of legs, a serial number, and name or trademark of the manufacturer all on a durable tag.  OSHA requires these slings to be inspected by a designated competent person each day before use and periodically depending on frequency of use and service conditions at intervals no greater than 12 months.  OSHA’s Guidance on Safe Sling Use lists the following items to be looked at during the sling inspection.

  • Wear,
  • Defective welds,
  • Nicks, cracks, breaks, gouges, stretch, bends, discoloration due to excessive heat,
  • Excessive pitting or corrosion,
  • Throat opening of hooks,
  • Missing or illegible sling identifications, and
  • Other conditions that cause doubt as to continued safe use of the sling.

Chain slings noted with any of these defects or deterioration need to be immediately removed from service but can be repaired, reconditioned, and proof tested by the sling manufacturer or a qualified person.  Additionally, slings need to be removed from service if the hooks are “cracked, have been opened more than 15 percent of the normal throat opening measured at the narrowest point or twisted more than 10 degrees from the plane of the unbent hook.”  A log or other record needs to be maintained by the employer on the inventoried and inspected chain slings.

Vigilance by the employer to thorough inspection, proper service condition, and recordkeeping of alloy steel chain slings could be regarded as a class act worthy of a Mel B congratulatory exclamation.

MEMIC policyholders have access to a sling sample safety program in the Safety Director Resource Library.