Four common equipment problems and how to prevent them

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

When selecting the right gear, we pick upon the critical issues of load security, stability, strength and so on. But what if we have gear that works sufficiently well when new and then things go wrong? Here we must pay attention to essential care and maintenance to avoid expense, downtime and disaster.

So what are some common and preventable lifting gear failures which working lifting gear can suffer? Let us look at four of the big ones which every owner should be able to avoid.

Lost markings

Sound like such a simple thing, but without markings our lifting gear just isn’t lifting gear anymore. Without essential identifying markings there is no way that you can make your gear pass inspection, or in the event of an incident stand up to scrutiny in court. There is also no way to address many other essential aspects of safe use and maintenance. Markings come in different forms of course and some are more durable than others.

Simple advice that could save much lifting gear from the scrap bin is to take care of the markings. Ensure that: you have sufficient markings upon delivery, protect the markings, and act upon damage to markings before the information is lost.

Where markings are lost or mis-interpreted and the wrong rating applied, this of course risks equipment failure.

Needless wear

Everything wears out eventually, but there are some things which need not make lifting gear wear out far quicker and more severely than is necessary:

Leaving equipment connected to a vehicle when it is not in use

The simple action of driving around a forklift, truck or other vehicle exposes contact points to many thousands more cycles than they would otherwise experience. This especially acute if the connection is less than ideal – such as a hard chain connector into a mild steel lug.

Using the wrong fitting for the job

If a lug is designed for a shackle, it should always be used with a shackle, if the shackle is much wider than the lug it will be prone to slop back and forth and cause rapid wear – this would properly be addressed by using spacer washers on the pin. Take special note however. If the connecting fittings are not the proper choice then accelerated wear is not the worst consequence – The first and most important advice that everyone can apply is that if the connection does not look like a good comfortable fit to stop, ask questions and make sure that the connections are safe ones.


Lifting gear is rarely made for intentional dragging along the ground. Take the time to pack up and lift it between uses and storage.

Keep synthetics clean

All lifting gear should be kept clean, but special mention must be made of synthetic slings. Just like a dirty carpet, if you leave dried out salty water, dirt or other fine abrasives on your synthetic slings then they will perish by a thousand cuts. Not only does this cause deterioration leading to discard, the decay is at a microscopic scale and not obvious to many end users – resulting in sudden failure.


It sounds obvious, by exposure to the elements or to corrosive environments could be destroying more of your lifting gear than anything else. Attention to simple things can help:

- Never store ordinary synthetic slings in the open (sunlight and weather will destroy them).

- Never leave a lifting beam that is made from channel or universal beam outside lying on its side.

- Never store lifting gear in a container which can gather moisture but not drain it out.

- If it should be lubricated, then ensure that it is lubricated. Consider traditional storage techniques for chain and wire rope slings that involve dipping or wiping down with oil every time they are put away.

- Talk to your supplier about getting the best surface treatment and storage solution for your equipment.

No documents

Have the right gear and it is all looking tidy? Unfortunately, this is not enough. The ability to back up your equipment’s status with the essential documents is vital.

Exactly what documents are essential varies in different situations, but some principles can broadly be applied. Always ensure that the manufacturer can be identified and that you can obtain from them documents which define what standard or specification the lifting gear was made to, and which makes reference to the testing for that product. If you are not familiar with the standards quoted, it makes sense also to look them up and to ensure that they are relevant lifting gear standards and not something else. If your own organisation has made the equipment for themselves, ensure that the manufacturing detail drawings are preserved.

If you are expecting the lifting gear to have been load tested, it also pays to ensure that you have a copy of the proof test certificate and that simple things like quantities match.

It is an unfortunate fact that many people rely on lifting gear which isn’t what they trust it will be, and when they try to have the equipment checked and assessed find that missing or irrelevant documents result in a write-off.

To organise for one of our specialist lifting and rigging technicians to service your equipment, please give us a call on 1300 711 559 or send us an email at