Lifting slings are an essential tool for hoisting, rigging and materials handling. Properly used, slings enable safe lifting and moving of heavy loads ranging from pipe sections to loaded boxcars.
Choosing the right sling material is the first step in sling safety. Here are some of the most common lifting sling types to look for.
Flat Synthetic Web Slings
These lightweight, economical slings are a popular choice for general lifting applications. Typically made of woven nylon or polyester, web slings are very flexible and easy to use. Because they are flat and thin, operators can easily slide them under a load and they don't add bulk. Synthetic web slings are rustproof and water-resistant, but can break down over time with exposure to UV light and are not suitable for high temperature applications (over 195° F). They can also be gouged or cut by sharp edges or corners. Different sling materials have different properties; nylon has better shock absorption while polyester provides superior load control. It is also important to consider the chemicals that a sling may be exposed to. Nylon slings can be used with oils, grease, aldehydes, ethers and alkalines, but should not be used with acids or bleaching agents. Polyester slings can be used with common acids and bleaching agents, but not with concentrated sulfuric acids or alkalines.
Colored roundslings are also made of synthetic materials, but have some important differences from flat web slings. These slings are engineered as endless loops of synthetic yarn covered by a tubular jacket. The jacket protects the interior load-bearing core from cuts and abrasion, leading to longer life and improved safety; damage to the outer jacket does not affect sling performance. The jacket also provides protection from UV light. Like web slings, roundslings are lightweight and easy to use. Pantero carries roundslings from Lift-All, which are color-coded for fast visual identification of maximum lifting capacity. Roundslings are very durable, rustproof, and provide a tight hold and good load control. However, they should not be used for temperatures over 195°F and may require additional protection when used with loads that have very sharp corners.
Wire Rope Slings
Wire rope slings are made from strands of steel braided into a strong rope. Steel wire rope slings have the lowest cost per ton of lifting capacity. Steel wire rope is abrasion-resistant and UV-resistant, offering superior longevity. They can also be used in high temperature applications (up to 400°F). These features make them an excellent choice for rugged conditions and heavy loads. However, they are heavier and can be harder to use than synthetic slings; care must be taken to avoid injuries caused by misuse. They are also prone to damage from kinking, crushing or severe abrasion, especially when bent over sharp edges. Wire rope slings should be inspected frequently for signs of damage, which will significantly reduce the sling's lifting capacity.
Chain slings are used for the most rugged applications and the heaviest loads. Steel chains hold up well under continuous use and can be used at their rated capacity for temperatures up to 400°F. Their strength and durability make them ideal for very heavy loads or loads with sharp corners and edges that may abrade other sling types. They also can be used in harsh conditions such as foundries, steel mills or heavy machine shops. The biggest downsides to chain slings are weight, ergonomics and the potential for damage to the items being lifted. They are also more expensive than other sling types.
Which Sling is Right for You?