Sign & Labels

ANSI Z535 and the OSHA 1910.14 Specifications for Accident Prevention Safety Signs require the use of safety signs to indicate specific hazards that, without identification, may lead to accidental injury to workers and/or the public, or lead to property damage. Keep signs simple and concise, but also make sure they communicate sufficient information so that the message is clear. OSHA compliant safety labels should be designed to the same standards as safety signs. For example, they should use the same colors as signs. Be consistent in your design so that your labels look like your signs. Variations in design can result in confusion and result in more time needed to read and understand the label. Consistent design of labels and signs, the colors used, how safety symbols are used, and what the header looks like all help communicate critical information quickly.

Types & Meanings:

Danger signs :

Indicate an immediate hazard which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Danger signs should be limited to the most extreme situations and signify that special precautions are necessary. The heading “DANGER” is printed in white letters on a red background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol (an equilateral triangle surrounding an exclamation mark). The message should be printed in black or red letters on a white background, or white letters on a black background. Additional safety symbols may be included in the message area.

Warning signs:

Represent a hazard level between caution and danger. “Warning” indicates a hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury. The heading “WARNING” (preceded by the safety alert symbol) is written in black on an orange background. Additional wording and safety symbols are printed in black on the lower portion of the sign. Warning signs and labels can be any size, but it is appropriate for the sign to be noticed and easily read from a safe distance. They need to communicate the warning information before someone is in a dangerous area or acts in a dangerous manner.

Caution sign :

Indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury. Caution signs are used in areas where potential injury or equipment damage is possible, or to caution against unsafe practices. Caution signs should only be used if there is a risk of personal injury. The heading “CAUTION” is written in black letters on a yellow background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol. The message and safety symbols in the body of the sign are printed in black.  Biological Hazard signs. According to OSHA §1910.145(e)(4), “The biological hazard warning shall be used to signify the actual or potential presence of a biohazard and to identify equipment, containers, rooms, materials, experimental animals, or combinations thereof, which contain, or are contaminated with, viable hazardous agents… presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of man.” The symbol design must conform to the design as shown in the “BIOHAZARD” sign and contain the word “Biohazard” or “Biological Hazard.” The biohazard symbol can be black, fluorescent orange, or orange-red color. Background color is optional as long as there is sufficient contrast for the biohazard symbol to be clearly defined. A biohazard can also be indicated on a danger or warning sign and may include the safety alert symbol.

Notice signs:

Provide general information that is important or relevant to a building, an area, a machine, or equipment. Notice signs address practices not related to personal injury. The heading “NOTICE” should be in white italic letters on a blue background. Notice signs should never include the safety alert symbol. The body of the sign is white, and the message is in blue or black lettering on a white background, or white lettering on a black background. Safety symbols can be printed in either blue or black. Notice signs can include information about procedures, operating instructions, maintenance information, rules, or directions. Notice signs are never used for personal injury hazards or warnings, but can be used to indicate possible equipment or property damage.

General Safety:

Signs are used to provide notices of general practice and rules relating to health, first aid, medical equipment, sanitation, housekeeping, and suggestions relative to general safety measures. Signs containing safety instructions or procedures should use heading “SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS” or “SAFETY PROCEDURES.” Where practical, use a more definitive heading, such as “SAFETY SHUTDOWN PROCEDURE.” Signs indicating the location of safety equipment should use a specific header such as “EYEWASH.” If multiple safety items are in the same location, simply use the header “SAFETY EQUIPMENT.” The message and safety symbols should be printed in green or black on a white background. The signs may also be printed in white on a green background. These signs should never include the safety alert symbol.

Fire Safety :

Signs are used to indicate the location of emergency fire fighting equipment. Unlike other signs, they do not require a header. The message and safety symbol are printed in red on a white background, or in white on a red background. Because these signs do not indicate a personal safety hazard, the safety alert symbol must not be used. Fire safety signs are not used to show the direction to fire equipment, but rather its immediate location .

Admittance signs:

Bridges all of the above categories. Admittance messages may be included on a sign with any header. You might decide to put “Unauthorized Personnel, Keep Out” on a danger, warning, caution, or notice sign. You may choose to include an admittance message on a general safety sign. The type of header and message content should be determined by the personal risk (if any) or consequences of entering the restricted area. The primary action statement should be simple, direct, and applicable to the hazard. Keep only essential hazard-related information on the sign. If necessary, consideration can be given to referring the viewer to another source for additional safety information or for permission to proceed. When information on consequence, avoidance, or type of hazard is readily inferred, this information may be omitted from the message panel.

Safety Symbols :

Signs and labels may include safety symbols, often called pictograms pictorials, or glyphs. Safety symbols can portray required actions, consequences, explicit direction, or the effects of interaction with certain chemicals, machines, and other hazards. Signs and labels may include more than one pictorial to show a sequence of events for one hazard. Safety symbols should be consistent, readable, and easily understood. They usually consist of a black image on a white background.

Surround Shapes – You may consider using a surround shape. However, a surround shape will decrease the available space for a symbol. Surround shapes should not be used if they detract from the major message.

HAZARD ALERTING – You can use this surround shape to highlight a hazardous condition. The symbol should be drawn within a black equilateral triangle and can include a yellow background.

MANDATORY ACTION – This type of symbol conveys actions that must be taken to avoid hazards. This symbol consists of a white image within a solid blue or black circle. PROHIBITION – For actions that should not be taken, this surround shape is required. It consists of a red or black circle with a diagonal slash at 45° from the upper-left to the lower-right.

INFORMATION – The square (or rectangular) surround shape is typically used to convey equipment location, places of exit, and permitted actions.

Safety Symbols:

When appropriate, you may use a graphic representation that conveys your message without using words. The safety symbol should “describe the type of hazard, or evasive/avoidance actions to be taken” ANSI Z535.2-2007 (8.1.2). Safety symbols should effectively communicate the message, be easily understood, and be visible from a safe distance.

Message Panel – The message panel describes a hazard, indicates how to avoid it, and advises workers of the consequences of not avoiding the hazard. Always follow these basic guidelines:

• Use left-aligned text

• Use sentence-style capitalization

• Use sans-serif fonts (such as Helvetica)

• Avoid prepositional phrases

• Write in “headline style”

• Use active voiceWhen determining the order of the message content, consider the target audience’s prior knowledge of the hazard and the necessary reaction time required to avoid dangerous consequences. Also, make sure that the most urgent message is the most prominent. OSHA 1910.145(e)(2) states: “The wording of any sign should be easily read and concise. The sign should contain sufficient information to be easily understood. The wording should make a positive, rather than negative suggestion and should be accurate in fact.”

Employee Training

Employers are required to conduct training to ensure workers understand the various types and meanings of signs in their facilities. The best time to train is during new hire safety orientation and during annual safety refreshers. Showing and explaining safety signs and their meanings in company newsletter and on employee bulletin boards will also help improve employees’ awareness of hazard signs. Effective employee training includes showing every type of sign, tag and label used. You should also provide an explanation of each purpose, meaning and what you expect employees to do when they encounter specific signs, labels or tags. Take special care to fully show and explain your hazard communication – chemical safety labeling program, which is also required by OSHA.

Sign Placement

Place hazard signs as close to the hazard as possible to create a definite link between the message and the hazard. Placing a group of hazard signs on a door, entryway or wall is asking for confusion. Let’s take a look at a typical plant maintenance shop. Every bench mounted tool should have hazard signs posted that require the use of eye protection and any other operation hazard that is applicable to the specific tool. These signs should be placed so that they are highly visible to the tool operator.

How you treat your signs sends a message:

Over time signs become faded, damaged and totally useless for the intended hazard message. Outdated, faded or damaged signs send a negative message about your emphasis on safety. To show employees that the hazard sign messages are important, replace them (the signs not the employees) as soon as they have any wear or damage. Have replacement signs available – stock enough replacement signs so there is no wait when a sign needs to be replaced.

Sign Language Barrier:

Being able to employ a diverse language workforce is essential in some industries. Using pictogram type safety signs to convey a hazard message can break reading or language barriers. To ensure that non-English speaking employees understand, some companies are employing translators to accompany trainers on facility tours with new employees to explain specific signs and their meanings. The food industry, which employees many non-English speaking Hispanic workers has seen the importance of bilingual signs. While bilingual signs are helpful, experience has shown that, as an example, not all “Hispanic” peoples speak or read the Spanish language the same – many words have entirely different meanings to various groups of peoples classified as “Hispanic”. The same is true for many other ethnic groups.

Temporary Signs:

Certain operations may require the use of temporary visual warning. One of the most familiar is the “wet floor” sign placed by custodians. Others include those placed at boundaries of electrical work areas, confined space entry operations, temporary containment for asbestos removal or chemical spill cleanup. OSHA also requires that if work exposes energized or moving parts that are normally protected, danger signs must be displayed and barricades erected, to warn other people in the area.

Information Signs

Beyond the typical “Notice” signs, there is sometimes the need for more detailed information signs that provide complex instructions. Generally, these are in the form of Posted Operating Instructions for equipment or processes that require specific step-by-step procedures to ensure safe operation. Plastic laminated paper instruction can be used in areas that are clean and dry, however, photoengraved metal signs will last longer, especially in areas that have wet or dirty operations.

Exit Signs:

OSHA requires that Exits be marked by a readily visible sign with plainly legible letters not less than 6 inches high and illuminated on the surface to at least a value of 5 foot-candles. Most “glow in the dark” signs do not meet this lighting requirement. Access to exits must also be marked by signs showing the direction (arrows) of the exit or way to reach it. Additionally, any door, passage, or stairway which is neither an exit nor a way of exit access, and which may be mistaken for an exit, must be identified by a sign reading “Not an Exit” or by a sign indicating its actual use, such as “To Basement,” “Storeroom,” “Linen Closet,” or the like.

Chemical Hazards:

In the workplace, OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires that each container of hazardous chemicals is labeled, tagged or marked. The identity of the hazardous chemical and appropriate hazard warnings, words, pictures, symbols must provide at least general information regarding the hazards of the chemical. Signs, placards, process sheets, batch tickets, operating procedures, or other written materials may be substituted for labels on individual stationary process containers, as long as this method identifies the containers to which it is applies and provides the same information required on labels. Small, portable containers, intended only for the immediate use of an employee and not for storage, do not require labels. Existing labels on containers, provided by the manufacturer, may not be removed or defaced unless the container is immediately marked with the required information.

Employee protection in public work areas:

Before work is begun in the vicinity of vehicular or pedestrian traffic which may endanger employees, warning signs and/or flags or other traffic control devices must be placed conspicuously to alert and channel approaching traffic. At night, warning lights must be prominently displayed.

Aisles And Passageways:

Permanent aisles and passageways have to be appropriately marked.

Welding & Brazing:

All filler metals and fusible granular materials must show the following notice on tags, boxes, or other containers:


Welding may produce fumes and gases hazardous to health. Avoid breathing these fumes and gases. Use adequate ventilation. See ANSI Z49.1-1967 Safety in Welding and Cutting published by the American Welding SocietyBrazing (welding) filler metals containing cadmium in significant amounts must have the following notice on tags, boxes, or other containers.




Do not breathe fumes. Use only with adequate ventilation such as fume collectors, exhaust ventilators, or air-supplied respirators. See ANSI Z49.1-1967. If chest pain, cough, or fever develops after use, call physician immediately.

Brazing and gas welding fluxes containing fluorine compounds shall have a cautionary wording to indicate that they contain fluorine compounds. One cautionary wording recommended by the American Welding Society for brazing and gas welding fluxes reads as follows:



This flux when heated gives off fumes that may irritate eyes, nose, and throat.Avoid fumes — use only in well-ventilated spaces.Avoid contact of flux with eyes or skinDo not take internally

Permit-Required Confined Spaces:

Exposed employees must be informed of the existence and location of and the danger posed by permit-required confined spaces through the posting of signs or by any other equally effective means. A sign reading “DANGER—PERMIT-REQUIRED CONFINED SPACE, DO NOT ENTER” or using other similar language would satisfy the requirement for a sign.


Tagout devices must warn against hazardous conditions if the machine or equipment is energized and shall include a legend such as the following: Do Not Start, Do Not Open, Do Not Close, Do Not Energize, Do Not Operate.

Fixed Extinguishing Systems:

Hazard warning or caution signs must be posted at the entrance to, and inside of, areas protected by fixed extinguishing systems which use agents in concentrations known to be hazardous to employee safety and health.


Ladders that have developed defects have to be taken out of service for repair or destruction. They must be tagged or marked as follows:DANGEROUS, DO NOT USE

Flammable Liquids:

Storage cabinets where flammable and combustible liquids are stored must be conspicuously labeled, “FLAMMABLE—KEEP FIRE AWAY.”

No Smoking Signs:

Near all Explosive Storage AreasAll spraying areas and paint storage roomsPowder coating areas and powder storage roomsAreas where organic peroxides are stored, mixed, or applied.Drying, Curing, Or Fusion ApparatusNear Dip Tanks Containing Flammable or Combustible LiquidsNear Bulk Flammable Storage Areas

Emergency Respirators:

The employer must ensure that respirators are stored in compartments or in covers that are clearly marked as containing emergency respirators.

Other Required Signs:

Other hazard signs and labels are required by OSHA and DOT for special industries, uses of industrial gases and equipment hazards.

Managing Safety Signs & Labels

 Humans are extremely dependent on visually communicated information. This is especially true in the workplace. Whether it’s recognition of changes, color, or movement, visual clues are essential for recognizing, controlling and avoiding hazards.Use of signs, labels and tags to visually convey hazard information to employees is required by 29CFR 1910.145 and other OSHA standards such as those for hazard communication, egress, confined space and bloodborne pathogens. OSHA standard 1910.145 covers the design, application and use of signs or symbols to identify specific hazards that could lead to injury, illness or property damage. OSHA has incorporated, by reference, the American National Standard Z53.1-1967 for specific sign color, size, lettering and contrast. To be effective, the wording of signs should be brief, easily read and understood. Wording should make a positive, rather than negative statement.

Employee Training

Employers are required to conduct training to ensure workers understand the various types and meanings of signs in their facilities. The best time to train is during new hire safety orientation and during annual safety refreshers. Showing and explaining safety signs and their meanings in company newsletter and on employee bulletin boards will also help improve employees’ awareness of hazard signs. Effective employee training includes showing every type of sign, tag and label used. You should also provide an explanation of each purpose, meaning and what you expect employees to do when they encounter specific signs, labels or tags. Take special care to fully show and explain your hazard communication – chemical safety labeling program, which is also required by OSHA.

Signs, Tags & Labels:

Confined spaces
Exits & exit ways
Flammable storage
High noise
Respirator required
Eye hazard
Emergency stop
Low overhead
Empty gas cylinder
Restricted access
Hardhat required
Hot surfaces
Voltage ratings
High voltage
Pipe flow direction
Contents of piped systems
Automatic equipment
Removable machine guards
Chemical storage
Sprinkler controls
Forklift traffic
Machine hazards
No Smoking
Out of Service
Lockout points
Chemical information
MSDS location
Emergency exit map

Materials Handling

Materials Handling

For an effective materials handling and storage program, managers must take an active role in its development. First-line supervisors must be convinced of the importance of controlling hazards associated with materials handling and storing and must be held accountable for employee material handling safety training. Safe lifting is only one aspect of material handling; transporting the load safely is the other. How you move or carry and put down the load is just as important as how you pick it up.

Moving, Handling, and Storing Materials:

When manually moving materials, employees should seek help when a load is so bulky it cannot be properly grasped or lifted, when they cannot see around or over it, or when they cannot safely handle the load.

Handles or holders should be attached to loads to reduce the chances of getting fingers pinched or smashed. Workers also should use appropriate protective equipment. For loads with sharp or rough edges, wear gloves or other hand and forearm protection. In addition, to avoid injuries to the eyes, use eye protection. When the loads are heavy or bulky, the mover also should wear steel-toed safety shoes or boots to prevent foot injuries if he or she slips or accidentally drops a load.

All stacked loads must be correctly piled and cross-tiered, where possible. Precautions also should be taken when stacking and storing material. Stored materials must not create a hazard. Storage areas must be kept free from accumulated materials that cause tripping, fires, or explosions, or that may contribute to the harboring of rats and other pests.

When stacking and piling materials, it is important to be aware of such factors as the materials’ height and weight, how accessible the stored materials are to the user, and the condition of the containers where the materials are being stored. Non-compatible material must be separated in storage. Employees who work on stored materials in silos, hoppers, or tanks, must be equipped with lifelines and safety belts.

All bound material should be stacked, placed on racks, blocked, interlocked, or otherwise secured to prevent it from sliding, falling, or collapsing. A load greater than that approved by a building official may not be placed on any floor of a building or other structure. Where applicable, load limits approved by the building inspector should be conspicuously posted in all storage areas.

When stacking materials, height limitations should be observed. For example, lumber must be stacked no more than 16 feet high if it is handled manually; 20 feet is the maximum stacking height if a forklift is used. For quick reference, walls or posts may be painted with stripes to indicate maximum stacking heights.

Used lumber must have all nails removed before stacking. Lumber must be stacked and leveled on solidly supported bracing. The stacks must be stable and self-supporting. Stacks of loose bricks should not be more than 7 feet in height. When these stacks reach a height of 4 feet, they should be tapered back 2 inches for every foot of height above the 4-foot level. When masonry blocks are stacked higher than 6 feet, the stacks should be tapered back one-half block for each tier above the 6-foot level. Bags and bundles must be stacked in interlocking rows to remain secure. Bagged material must be stacked by stepping back the layers and cross-keying the bags at least every ten layers. To remove bags from the stack, start from the top row first. Baled paper and rags stored inside a building must not be closer than 18 inches to the walls, partitions, or sprinkler heads.

Check chain slings during inspection:

A competent person should inspect chain slings periodically, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. For record keeping purposes it is useful if each chain has a metal tag with an identification number and load limit information. Information about the chain length and other characteristics and an inspection schedule should be recorded in a log book.

  • Clean sling before inspection.
  • Hang the chain up or stretch the chain out on a level floor in a well-lighted area. Remove all twists. Measure the sling length. Discard if a sling has been stretched.
  • Make a link-by-link inspection and discard if:

a) Wear exceeds 15% of a link diameter.

Curved Chain Sling

Cut, nicked, cracked, gouged, burned, or corrosion pitted.

Damaged Chain Sling

c) Twisted or bent.

Twisted or Bent Chain Slings

d) Stretched. Links tend to close up and get longer.

Stretched Chain Sling

  • Check master link, load pins and hooks for any of the above faults. Hooks should be removed from service if they have been opened more than 15% of the normal throat opening, measured at the narrowest point, or twisted more than 10° from the plane of the unbent hook.
  • Manufacturers’ reference charts show sling and hitch capacities. Record manufacturer, type, load limit and inspection dates.

Use chain slings safely:

  • Always know how to properly use the equipment, slinging procedures before attempting the lift operation.
  • Inspect the slings and accessories before use for any defects.
  • Replace broken safety latches.
  • Find out load weight before lifting.
  • Check whether chain slings fit freely. Do not force, hammer or wedge chain slings or fittings into position.
  • Keep hands and fingers from between load and chain when tensioning slings and when landing loads.
  • Ensure the load is free to be lifted.
  • Make a trial lift and trial lower to ensure the load is balanced, stable and secure.
  • Balance the load to avoid overstress on one sling arm or the load slipping free.
  • Lower the working load limit if severe impact may occur.
  • Pad sharp corners to prevent bending links and to protect the load.
  • Position hooks of multi-leg slings facing outward from the load.
  • Do not leave suspended loads unattended.
  • Cordon off the area.
  • Reduce the load limit when using chain in temperatures above 425°C (800°F).
  • Store chain sling arms on racks in assigned areas and not lying on the ground. The storage area should be dry, clean and free of any contaminants which may harm the sling.

Materials Handling – Lifting With Eye Bolts:

How should you select the right bolt:

Eye bolts are marked with their thread size NOT with their rated capacities. Make sure you select the correct eyebolt based on its type and capacity for the lift you are conducting.

  • Use plain or regular eye bolts (non-shoulder) or ring bolts for vertical loading only. Angle loading on non-shoulder bolts will bend or break them.
  • Use shoulder eye bolts for vertical or angle loading. Be aware that lifting eye bolts at an angle reduces the safe load.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended method for angle loading.

Incorrect use of shoulder bolt
Incorrect use of shoulder bolt

Shoulder eye bolt with load correctly applied
Shoulder eye bolt with load correctly applied

Incorrect way of applying angle load
Incorrect way of applying angle load

Use eye bolts safely:

  • Orient the eye bolt in line with the slings. If the load is applied sideways, the eye bolt may bend.
  • Pack washers between the shoulder and the load surface to ensure that the eye bolt firmly contacts the surface. Ensure that the nut is properly torqued.
  • Engage at least 90% of threads in a receiving hole when using shims or washers.
  • Attach only one sling leg to each eye bolt.

Attach only one sling leg to each eye bolt

  • Inspect and clean the eye bolt threads and the hole.
  • Screw the eye bolt on all the way down and properly seat.
  • Ensure the tapped hole for a screw eye bolt (body bolts) has a minimum depth of one-and-a-half times the bolt diameter.
  • Install the shoulder at right angles to the axis of the hole. The shoulder should be in full contact with the surface of the object being lifted.
  • Use a spreader bar with regular (non-shoulder) eye bolts to keep the lift angle at 90° to the horizontal.
    • Use eye bolts at a horizontal angle greater than 45°. Sling strength at 45° is 71% of vertical sling capacity. Eye bolt strength at 45° horizontal angle drops down to 30% of vertical lifting capacity.
    • Use a swivel hoist ring for angled lifts. The swivel hoist ring will adjust to any sling angle by rotating around the bolt and the hoisting eye pivots 180°.

What should you avoid when using eye bolts:

  • Do not run a sling through a pair of eye bolts: this will reduce the effective angle of lift and will put more strain on the rigging.
  • Do not force the slings through eye bolts. This force may alter the load and the angle of loading.
  • Do not use eye bolts that have been ground, machined or stamped.
  • Do not use bars, grips or wrenches to tighten eye bolts.
  • Do not paint an eye bolt. The paint could cover up flaws.
  • Do not force hooks or other fittings into the eye; they must fit freely.
  • Do not shock load eye bolts.
  • Do not use a single eye bolt to lift a load that is free to rotate.
  • Do not use eye bolts that have worn threads or other flaws.
  • Do not insert the point of a hook in an eye bolt. Use a shackle.

Use a shackle

Materials Handling – Overhead Crane Operation

What should you do before moving a load:

  • Ensure all loose materials, parts, blocking and packing have been removed from the load before lifting.
  • Remove any slack from the sling and hoisting ropes before lifting the load.
  • Make sure that the lifting device seats in the saddle of the hook.
  • Verify that the load is not heavier that the maximum load capacity.

How should you move loads safely:

  • Move crane controls smoothly. Avoid abrupt, jerky movements of the load.
  • Follow signals only from one slinger in charge of the lift, except a stop signal.
  • Make sure everyone is away from the load before hoisting. Sound a bell, siren or other warning device and start to hoist slowly.
  • Ensure nothing links or catches on the load while raising it or traveling.
  • Ensure that nothing obstructs the movement of a load.
  • Keep the load under control when lowering a load. If the braking system stops working, the load can usually be lowered by reversing the hoist controller to the first or second point.
  • Do not lower the load below a level that corresponds to less than two full wraps of wire rope left on the drum.
  • Stay in a crane cab during power failure. Place controls in “off” position, attract attention and wait for help.

What should you do before leaving the crane:

  • Remove the load hanging on crane hooks.
  • Raise all hooks to a mid-position.
  • Spot the crane at a designated location.
  • Before closing the main switch, make sure that all controllers are in the “off” position.

What should you avoid when operating an overhead crane:

  • Do not carry anything in your hands when going up and down ladders. Items that are too large to go into pockets or belts should be lifted to or lowered from the crane by rope.
  • Do not operate a crane if limit switches are out of order, or if cables show defects.
  • Do not lower the blocks below the point where less than two full wraps of cable remain on the drum.
  • Do not attempt lifts beyond the rated load capacity of a crane or slings.
  • Do not lift a load from the side. Centre the crane directly over the load before hoisting to avoid swinging the load.

Overhead Crane Operation

  • Do not allow anyone to ride on a load or hooks.
  • Do not leave slings dangling from the load hook. Have sling hooks placed on the sling ring when carrying slings to the load.
  • Do not raise loads higher than necessary to clear objects.
  • Do not pass a load over workers.
  • Do not reverse a motor until it has come to a full stop except to avoid accidents.
  • Do not walk on the crane runway.
  • Do not leave suspended loads unattended.

Materials Handling – Synthetic Web Slings

Synthetic web slings are a good choice where highly finished parts or delicate equipment must be protected from damage. The synthetic material has stretch and flexibility to help the slings mold to the shape of the load, gripping securely, while cushioning and absorbing shock more than a wire rope or chain.

  • They are lightweight and very easy to handle.
  • They are non-sparking, non conductive and can be used safely in explosive atmospheres.
  • Synthetic slings are typically not affected by grease, oil, moisture and certain chemicals. Check with the manufacturer to determine which conditions apply to the exact material you are using.
  • Synthetic web slings are easily cut and have poor abrasion resistance when compared with chain and wire rope slings. Protect webbing from sharp corners, protrusions, or abrasive surfaces.
  • Protect slings from heat sources such as steam pipes, open flame and welding splatter.
  • Nylon slings are damaged by acids, but resist caustics.
  • Polyester slings are damaged by caustics but resist acids.
  • Wet frozen slings will have a reduced load capacity. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Sunlight, moisture, and temperatures above 82.2°C (180°F) damage both nylon and polyester slings.
  • Use slings made of the right material for the job.
  • Check the manufacturers’ slings for their code number and the rated capacity. Reference charts showing slings and hitch rated capacities are available from manufacturers.
  • Inspect slings before using them.
  • Keep an inspection record for each sling.
  • Replace damaged slings, or repair only according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Materials Handling – Hoist Wire Rope:

visually inspect wire ropes:

  • Use the “rag-and-visual” method to check for external damage. Grab the rope lightly and with a rag or cotton cloth, move the rag slowly along the wire. Broken wires will often “porcupine” (stick out) and these broken wires will snag on the rag. If the cloth catches, stop and visually assess the rope. It is also important to visually inspect the wire (without a rag). Some wire breaks will not porcupine.
  • Measure the rope diameter. Compare the rope diameter measurements with the original diameter. If the measurements are different, this change indicates external and/or internal rope damage.
  • Visually check for abrasions, corrosion, pitting, and lubrication inside rope. Insert a marlin spike beneath two strands and rotate to lift strands and open rope.

How to check the interior of the rope
How to check the interior of the rope

Wire rope elements
Wire rope elements

When should you stop using the rope and remove it from use:

Assess the condition of the rope at the section showing the most wear. Discard a wire rope if you find any of the following conditions:

  • In running ropes (wound on drums or passed over sheaves), 6 or more broken wires in one rope lay length; 3 or more broken wires in one strand in one rope lay. (One rope lay is the distance necessary to complete one turn of the strand around the diameter of the rope.)
  • In pendant standing ropes, 3 or more broken wires in one lay length.
  • Wear of 1/3 of the original diameter of individual outside wires.
  • Kinking, crushing, cutting or unstranding, bird caging or other physical damaged that has distorted the shape of the wire rope.
  • Heat damage (check for burn marks, discoloration of the metal).
  • Excessive stretch or sharp reduction in the rope diameter.
  • Knots or splices (except eye splices) in a wire rope.
  • Missing sling identification, such as manufacturer, workload limit, diameter or size.

What can cause a wire rope to break:

  • Wear on areas in contact with hoist sheaves and drums.
  • Corrosion from lack of lubrication and exposure to heat or moisture (e.g., wire rope shows signs of pitting). A fibre core rope will dry out and break at temperatures above 120°C (250°F).
  • Fatigue from repeated bending even under normal operating conditions.
  • Overloading the safe working load limit. Follow manufacturers’ charts.
  • Mechanical abuse – crushing, cutting or dragging of rope.
  • Usage when frozen – if work is performed at lower than 15.5°C, the use of the sling should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Kinks from improper installation of new rope, sudden release of a load or knots made to shorten a rope. A kink cannot be removed without creating a weak section. Discarding kinked rope is best.

Kinked wire rope
Kinked wire rope