How to effectively dispose of damaged lifting equipment

Friday, 31 May 2019

There are no industry standards or official guidelines on how to effectively dispose of irreparable lifting equipment.  A lot of industry publications offer advice and guidelines on how to keep equipment in working order but what should you do with the equipment once it is unsalvageable?  This article offers you advice on the common signs of damage to look out for on popular lifting equipment, as well as what to do when the damaged equipment has been tagged as unsalvageable by a trained lifting service technician.

If you have any questions about the condition of your lifting and rigging equipment, please contact our highly trained technician team who will be able to offer advice and assistance on whether your equipment can be repaired or whether it should be discarded from further use.

Wire rope and wire rope slings

There are many factors that can affect the lifespan of wire rope, some of these include load conditions, bending and stresses as well as environmental conditions such as heat or chemical exposure.  You should always inspect your lifting equipment for damage before use, some common observations that may indicate that your wire rope is unsafe and should be serviced or discarded are:

- Corrosion

- Extreme wear

- Nominal diameter reduction in the outer wire

- Damaged fittings (e.g. hooks, latches, rings, links etc)

- Damage to the structure (e.g. distortion, kinking, bird caging etc.)

- Broken wires.

If you notice any of the above damage, remove the equipment from service and organise for a qualified technician to service the item/s.  If the equipment is marked as unsalvageable, there are a few steps you follow to properly discard the wire rope to ensure it cannot be used for any purpose other than recycling.

1. Always wear proper PPE equipment to prevent injury.

2. Remove any tags and labels from the wire rope.

3. Cut the eyes of the wire rope to prevent further use.

4. Cut the wire rope into 3 or 4-inch pieces so it is easier to discard and won’t allow for a new eye to be crafted.

5. Place all pieces into your facilities designated recycling bin for pick or delivery.

Alloy chain slings

Alloy chain slings are strong but eventually they will be worn or to a point that sees them taken out of service.  It is also common to find chain slings damaged from environmental factors. This can lead to corrosion. When inspecting your chain slings before use, look for these common signs of damage:

- Extreme wear beyond specified tolerances (check manufacturers recommendations)

- Pitting from corrosion

- Stretching

- Kinks or binding

- Nicks or gouges in any of the links

- For more information and clear guidelines on chain sling standards, see Australian Standards AS3775.

If you notice any of the above damage, remove the equipment from service and organise for a qualified technician to service the item/s.  If the equipment is marked as unsalvageable, we recommend you do the following to ensure it can’t be re-purposed for any type of use.

1. Always wear proper PPE equipment to prevent injury.

2. Remove any tags and labels from the chain.

3. Cut off master links and hooks.

4. Cut the chain into 3 or 4-inch pieces so it is easier to manage and won’t allow for re-use.

5. Place all pieces into your facilities recycling bin for pick or delivery.

Synthetic web slings

Web slings are a great lifting solution for fragile, delicate and highly finished parts.  They also have a high resistance to mildew, rot, abrasions and some chemicals, however, they can still be damaged past the point of repair.  When inspecting synthetic web slings before use, look for these common signs of damage:

- Snags, punctures, tears or cuts

- Damage to the stitching

- Extreme wear such as elongation (check manufactures recommendations)

- Distortion of fittings

- Acid or caustic burns

- Melting or charring of any part of the surface.

If you notice any of the above signs of damage, remove the equipment from service and organise for a qualified technician to inspect your synthetic web sling.  If a qualified technician has rendered the web sling unsalvageable, we recommend following these steps to ensure it is unable to be re-purposed:

1. Always wear proper PPE equipment to prevent injury.

2. Remove any tags and labels from the web sling.

3. Cut the eye of the sling to render it unusable.

4. Whilst cutting the eye will usually render the sling unusable, we also recommend cutting the sling into 3 or 4-inch pieces to prevent a new eye being created from the body of the sling.

5. Place all pieces into your facilities recycling bin for pick or delivery.

Synthetic roundslings

Synthetic roundslings are strong and flexible, they are an ideal lifting solution if you want versatility.  Similar to web slings but with an added jacket that provides extra protection to the load bearings inner fibres.  Whilst these slings are strong and versatile, one small cut, burn or tear can compromise the safety of the sling.  When checking your synthetic round slings before use, look for any of these common signs of damage:

- Holes, tears, cuts or wear

- Extreme heat or chemical burns/damage (evident by discolouration, brittle or stiff areas)

- Visible or damaged internal yarn

- Distortion or damage to the fittings.

If you notice any damage to your synthetic roundsling, remove it from service and have it inspected by a qualified technician.  If the sling is tagged unsalvageable, we recommend the following steps to ensure it is properly disposed of:

1. Always wear proper PPE equipment to prevent injury.

2. Remove any tags and labels from the synthetic roundsling.

3. Standard roundsling configuration means cutting the body in half will render it unusable.

4. Synthetic slings can be disposed of in general waste, but we recommend placing all pieces into your facilities recycling bin for pick or delivery.

Lifting hardware

Rigging hardware comes in all shapes, sizes and specifications but one rule applies to all of them – you should always inspect your lifting equipment for damage before use.  When checking your lifting hardware such as shackles, links, rings, swivels, eyebolts etc be sure to look for these common signs of damage:

- Bends, twists, distortion, stretching, elongation, cracks or breaks in load bearing components

- More than 10% of reduction in original dimension

- Excessive nicks, gouges, pitting or corrosion

- Indications of heat damage (possibly from weld splatter or arc strikes)

- Loose or missing pieces such as nuts, bolts, cotter pins, snap rings, fasteners or retaining devices

- Illegible or missing required markings (see updated Australian Standard AS2317.1-2018).

If you notice any of the above damage, remove the item from service and organise for an inspection by a trained lifting technician.  If the equipment is tagged as unsalvageable we recommend the following steps to render the hardware defective for future use:

1. Always wear proper PPE equipment to prevent injury.

2. Remove any tags and labels from hardware.

3. Remove and separate pins/latches.

4. Cut equipment by torch cutting or using an abrasive drop saw.

5. Place all pieces into your facilities recycling bin for pick or delivery.

In conclusion

Inspecting lifting equipment before use is essential to ensure safety.  If you find any signs of damage on the equipment, you should remove it from service and ensure it is inspected by a qualified technician.  If the equipment has been marked unsalvageable, we recommend destructing the equipment to a condition that makes further use impossible before disposing of the equipment into a recycling bin.

Because there are no standards or clear instructions on how to dispose of damaged lifting equipment it can be challenging to know what to do.  As Australia’s trusted lifting and rigging company we recommend following these steps to ensure the safety and longevity of your equipment:

- Remove anything from service that has visible signs of damage.

- Have equipment inspected by a trained professional before discarding or returning it back to service.

- Always wear appropriate PPE equipment when destroying equipment.

- Remove all tags and labels before destroying and recycling equipment.

- Always destroy equipment to a state that renders it impossible to restore or repurpose.

- Always remove and separate pins and latches on lifting hardware.

- Recycle all equipment to help reduce pollution and preserve the environment.

Nobles have the largest specialist lifting and rigging service operation in Australia, backed up by the best training and technology we can keep all your assets safe and compliant.  We have a strong technical team of 70+ inspectors, service technicians, testing equipment operators, repairers and installers based across Australia.  Our technical team are highly trained to best industry practice and use state of the art technology to keep you running and maximise your operational uptime.

If you would like a qualified Nobles technician to inspect your lifting equipment, please give us a call on 1300 711 559 or send us an email at techservices@nobles.com.au.​

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