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2013, July

(0) How To Properly Select Industrial Crane Slings and what you MUST know when using them.

There are primarily six basic types of industrial Crane Slings that riggers use to lift and manipulate materials. All six sling types can be found in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Sling Safety Standard, B30.9. They are: chain slings, wire rope slings, metal mesh slings, synthetic rope slings, web slings and roundslings.

There is no single sling that will accomplish every task, even if you are told that by those that market a specific sling type.  All slings have certain unique advantages, as well as limitations. Two formidable limitations for synthetic slings are susceptibility to damage by cutting and abrasion and damage by heat.

All sling users must be trained in the selection and use of industrial crane slings.  They must also know how to inspect the rigging and be aware of hazards, such as chemical and environmental damage, as well as knowing proper storage conditions. 

One of the first considerations for sling users is the selection of the specific sling type.  Consideration must be given to the nature of the load, how it will be rigged, contact and ambient temperatures, etc.  Other important considerations can be found in the Lift-It Rigging Resource Guide or at our web site under the category of Lift Planning and Evaluation.  While this article and the listing of considerations on our web site provides many important points, neither can provide all of the variables that responsible riggers need to consider. Simply stated, the rigger must select the best sling type to successfully handle the load, echoing the old adage, “use the right tool for the right job”.

Metal rigging slings made from chain, wire rope and metal mesh are more robust than synthetic slings and are more durable.  Metal rigging slings can withstand higher temperature exposure than synthetic slings.  Chain slings and wire rope slings with a wire core can be used at temperatures not to exceed 400 degrees (F). Uncoated wire mesh slings can be used at temperatures not to exceed 550 degrees (F). 

Chain slings feature many options that allow sling users to easily adjust the length of the sling. However, durability and adjustability come with some drawbacks.  Metal slings are much heavier than synthetic slings and some will not use chain slings as they feel they are too difficult to inspect.  Sling inspection training will dispel that notion as an upside of the durability for metal slings allows the sling user or inspector to approve or remove metal type slings, based upon specific, quantitative removal from service criteria. Synthetic sling users or inspectors on the other hand must remove slings that exhibit even slight damage as there is zero tolerance for defects.  

 Sling selection must be based upon the type of load, weight and configuration of lift (choker, vertical or basket). It is important to realize that the same sling has different capacities for each specific hitch.

Other important considerations must be taken into account to successfully lift and control the load.  Does the sling length result in a large or small angle of lift?  The sling angle is the angle that is formed between the top of the load and leg of the sling. Sling angles affect all rigging and as the angle “flattens out” or becomes smaller the tension on the sling increases dramatically.  Slings with adequate capacity to lift a given amount of weight have been broken because of a lack of understanding of sling angles and the resulting tension that develops. Sling users must also adjust the choker capacity for slings when the angle of choke (which is different than the angle for slings used in vertical, basket or bridle configurations as described above) is less than 120 degrees.

Sling users must rig to the center of gravity (COG), which is the “balance” point of the load.  Another way to understand the center of gravity is that is the point where the load weight is concentrated.  
Much like water, the COG will always seek its lowest point and unless restrained will always end up directly under the lifting fixture.

Consideration must also be given to the nature and composition of the load.  
Does the load have enough structural stability to withstand crushing or compression, based upon the sling type and the area(s) where the sling contact occurs? Are the attachment points strong enough to ensure integrity during the lifting or material handling application?

Another important consideration would be to determine if the sling will require protection based upon what could be a damaging edge or surface.  Some think that industrial crane slings made from wire rope, chain or wire mesh do not need to be protected and that is simply not true.  All slings must be protected with materials of sufficient strength, thickness and construction to prevent damage which may result in sling failure. A load edge does not have to be “razor” sharp to result in sling damage.  Sling failure has profound consequences: property damage, serious injury and/or death. Sling protection is available from responsible sling manufacturers who are interested in more than just the sling sale.  Contact the experts at Lift-It Manufacturing for information on sling protection that was designed and tested to withstand the forces of tension and compression and also features tagging information that is important for proper, protection usage.

Even if the best sling protection is used, if the sling is not rigged properly the protection as well as the sling may become damaged.  Rigging at excessive angles or attaching slings to objects that are wet or slippery can result in NON POSITIVE SLING TO LOAD ENGAGEMENT.  Simply stated, the sling skips over the load edge or the load skips through the sling.  This unplanned movement can be deadly. Load control in warm handling conditions may be entirely different than realized when handling the same exact load, in exactly the same fashion in frozen conditions.

 Rigging loads with any type of industrial crane sling in any circumstance requires forethought and planning. We always encourage our sling safety trainees to plan their work and work their plan.
It is too late to come up with a rigging plan when the load is in the air. One must consider, ahead of time, if the load has a clear path and will not become snagged.  Consideration must also be given to an emergency or contingency set down area, before the lift is made.

At the end of the day, sling users must act responsibly to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
Sling users should never be under, on, near or in the “strike” zone.
Sling users must know what the load weighs and select slings with adequate capacity given the hitch and tension that develops in all rigging activities.
Sling users must never use a damaged sling.  Sling protection must be readily available.
Slings must be inspected before each use by competent individuals.
Lastly, sling users must control the load at all times. 


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(0) International Rigging Safety Training provided by Lift-It Mfg.



Michael J. Gelskey, Chief Executive Officer, Lift-It Manufacturing Co., Inc. presented two workshops for the EPRI 2013 Generation European Workshop in Rome, Italy. Mr. Gelskey presented an early morning session titled, Rigging for Success and another session in the afternoon that detailed Industry, Association and Regulatory Updates from the American rigging perspective.

Delegates from four continents attended the presentations and were enthused and extremely complimentary in their post conference evaluations.  Mr. Gelskey remarked, “Thankfully, the attendees were far more advanced in their language skills than most of my United States students as the majority of the European attendees are bi-lingual.”

The one resounding comment that was received from the participants of both sessions was the passion Mike Gelskey has in presenting topics that will enable the attendees to make a difference in the lives of those they are tasked with protecting.  Gelskey comments, “Long before it was fashionable or profitable, I would travel anywhere at my own expense to present sling and rigging training for anyone that would have me. Now, training is very much in vogue.  My goal has always been to inspire and help my students leave with a new found perspective on the direct correlation that exists between rigging right and going home at night.”

The first of many international presentations, Mr. Gelskey will follow up the European presentations with on site, sling and rigging training in the Dominican Republic and Australia. Gelskey remarks, “Translation services will be necessary for my students in the Dominican Republic and what would normally be an eight hour presentation will end up being a 20 hour presentation over two days. “

Lift-It Manufacturing Co., Inc. provides quality rigging to discriminating sling and rigging customers throughout the world and now offers on-site, international training.  Monthly events are presented at the Lift-it Learning Center in Pomona, CA.  Contact Michelle Brown, Conference Coordinator at 909.469-2251 or view the details at

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(0) Nylon Web Slings Spray Painting Guidance

I recently received a letter from a genteleman regarding nylon web slings and spray painting on the nylon web sling for marking purposes. My answer to the question is posted in my reply letter back to him. You can read my response below:

It was a pleasure meeting you at the EPRI conference.  It was an honor to have you attend our factory training sessions and thank you for your participation in asking a very important question.

The issue of spray painting nylon web slings is different than the issue of marking  nylon lifting slings or polyester roundslings with felt marker pens.

Felt marker pens have been used extensively for over forty years by the fabricators of nylon straps.  I had queried a group of  nylon sling and tie down fabricators at the 35th Annual Conference of the Web Sling and Tie Down Association, held in Newport, RI. There was 75 people representing at least 50 different fabricators and not one could recall any incident where the ink of a marker pen was the root cause for a synthetic rigging sling or web tie down failure. We have previously written articles and have information on our web site relative to the use of marker pens on synthetic slings.The use of spray paint on polyester and nylon slings is an entirely different matter.  A polyester or nylon sling is generally painted to indicate ownership or that a periodic inspection has been performed.  The chemical ingredients of the paint can be harmful to the synthetic rigging sling.  In addition to the chemical degradation, the paint can penetrate and solidify within the web sling fibers or inside the individual strands of the polyester round sling, impeding the designed performance of the lifting fibers used in the lifting slings by the crane and rigging industries.

We have inspected lifting slings that were used to handle freshly painted, microwave tower sections that were literally stiff as boards after the paint had hardened and dried.  While this is an extreme case, the solution was an easy one.  During my  sling safety presentation to the National Association of Tower Erectors, I suggested the use of fire hose to prevent the absorption of the paint by the nylon lifting slings.

There are much better ways to identify rigging sling ownership or to indicate that a sling inspection has been done.  Nylon sling fabricators can easily attach a color patch to many, if not all synthetic rigging products. At Lift-It Manufacturing, we generally mount the color patch near the sling identification tag.  In addition, we make custom sling tags which indicate company or crew ownership.  Heavy duty slings and cargo lifting nets can have custom sling tags attached boldly displaying, PROPERTY OF PEMEX or PROPERTY OF DEHYDRATION CREW 7.  These tags are sewn directly to the lifting sling or roundsling cover and are very difficult to remove.  The tag attachment is far superior to stenciling or marker pen which can easily be covered over.

Sling inspection can be easily identified by either a sling inspection tag which is attached directly to the web sling, round sling or tie down assembly. Sling inspection tags contain monthly, quarterly or annual information that the inspector  either marks on the sling tag or punches out to indicate that the sling is in an acceptable condition.

Another solution to visually indicate sling safety inspections is the use of a Lift-It Inspection Loop. A small piece of webbing is folded in half and inserted under the edge of the sling tag as the tag is attached to the lifting sling. The Inspection Loop provides an attachment point for colorized zip ties which indicate the month, quarter or year of the inspection. The above mentioned solutions can be found on our web site or by viewing page 54 of our Rigging Resource Guide and are far superior to painting, stenciling or using electrical tape of different colors.  Electrical tape when removed can damage the outer fibers of polyester lifting slings and nylon web slings.

The use of metal tags on synthetic  rigging slings can be dangerous as the tag could become hung up, resulting in sling damage as the aircraft cable used to attach the metal tag to the lifting sling cuts or abrades the nylon web or polyester sling fibers.  Damage to the synthetic lifting sling can also occur when aircraft cable is attached snuggly to the sling eye or the sling body.

We hope that you find this information useful in protecting the lives of those that use industrial lifting slings for any application.  Please consider attending the sling safety training we offer at the Lift-It Learning Center in Pomona, CA. We present rigger training, sling inspection training and also provide sling classes for NCCCO preparatory training.

Have a great weekend and know that we are ready to help you with solutions to problems, compliance issues and yes, we also sell rigging!

All the best, Mike View my Google+ Profile Here

(0) Hoisting, Rigging & Crane User Group Tour Lift-It Manufacturing


The 2013 EPRI- Hoisting, Rigging & Crane User Group Meeting and Workshop was held in Long Beach, CA and featured a field trip to Lift-It® Manufacturing Company, Inc. Over 65 attendees were part of the plant tour and workshop that featured an educational session, as well as a several fabrication demonstrations.

Michael J. Gelskey, Jr. welcomed the group outside the factory and took one of the two groups on the factory tour.  The tour featured fabrication demonstrations of web, round and Twin-Path® Extra slings. An overview of the Lift-It® ISO: AS9100C quality control system, material traceability and final inspection were also presented. The highlight of the tour was destruction testing of slings which had been produced for the tour attendees.

Simultaneously, Michael J. Gelskey, Sr. was presenting a Rigging Standards and Regulatory Compliance update in the Lift-It® Learning Center.  Attendees were updated on recent developments in the OSHA sling safety standards, ASME sling and hardware consensus standards and the Recommended Standard Specifications of the Web Sling and Tie Down Association.  In addition, a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy on sling accidents resulting from the lack of sling protection or inadequate protection was also provided.

Michael Gelskey, Sr. remarked, “We were extremely pleased to be selected and truly appreciated the many favorable comments received about our operation and our people. “

Dequoy R.M. Weaver also presented an interactive, educational session on Synthetic Sling Inspection during the regular meeting. The attendees were presented with sling inspection system information, removal from service criteria and sling inspection techniques.

Mike Gelskey, Jr. stated, “It was great to see old friends and to welcome new ones into the Lift-It® Family. It was a dream come true to have the backbone of the nuclear power industry visit our home.”

The day concluded with an Appreciation Dinner hosted by Lift-It® for the participants at Parker’s Light House in Long Beach, CA.  The event was held in the Queensview Steakhouse which has breathtaking views of the Queen Mary and the Port of Long Beach.  The night ended at 9:00 PM after the group enjoyed sumptuous cuisine and libations.

Lift-It® Manufacturing Company is a leader in the supply of quality rigging, worldwide for discriminating customers who know there is no substitute for quality.  Lift-It® celebrates 34 years of service to the sling and rigging industry and provides world class education for sling riggers and inspectors at the Lift-It® Learning Center in Pomona, CA or onsite.  For more information on Lift-It® visit or contact them at 909.469-2251.
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