10 steps to checking a sling prior to each use

Often we are asked about how to check various items of equipment, in this post we aim to give a little more insight into checking slings prior to use.  These “10 steps to checking a sling prior to each use” are essential to ensuring safe and correct use of the sling or slings.

1. Is the sling as identified in the risk assessment? 

You may be familiar with the client using the sling but their needs can often change.  A care plan and risk assessment should be available at all times.  Please check this to ensure that the sling being used is as identified within that document and note any relevant information pertaining to the use of the slings.

2. Have you been trained to use the sling?

If you are unaware of how the particular sling is to be fitted correctly then the sling should not be used.

3. Have you visually inspected the sling to check the condition? 

The sling and hoist for the matter should be visually inspected before each use to look for any defects.  If critical defects are found then the sling should not be used.

4. Has the sling been inspected by a competent person within the last 6 months?

Where people are employed to use the lifting equipment i.e. paid carers, the LOLER regulations will apply.  This means that the lifting equipment must be inspected every 6 months to comply.  Failure to adhere to this will be a breach of LOLER and of Health & Safety.  There should be evidence available to inform you of the previous inspection date.

5. Are the manufacturers labels in place and legible?

If the label cannot be read the sling should not be used.  Why? Critical information such as serial number, manufacturer, size etc. could be missing.  How would we know that it was this sling that has been previously inspected for defects?  Also if there ever was an incident this would make any traceability very difficult.

6. Is the safe working load (SWL) clearly identified on sling?

If the safe working load cannot be identified on the sling how do we know the client can safely use the sling?  Every sling should have this information on the label.  If there are concerns the client is too heavy for the equipment this should be reported to the Occupational Therapist/Care Manager or Supervisor immediately.

7. Is the stitching on the sling free from defect?

A quick visual inspection of the sling edges, straps, loops and areas around any handles should show any obvious defects.  If any are found do not use the sling until it has been inspected or replaced.

8. Are all the sling loops in good condition?

If the loops have frayed edges or show signs of splits/cutting then again this should be reported and the sling not used until it has been inspected or replaced.

9. Are the hoist and sling compatible with each other?

There are many types of sling and hoist and not all are compatible with each other.  It is important to ensure both are compatible.

10. Is the sling clean i.e. any evidence of soiling on the sling?

Ensure that the sling is clean and that there is no evidence of soiling on the sling.  Put yourself in the shoes of the person being hoisted.  Would you want to be hoisted in a soiled sling?

This list is not intended to replace any official guidance that you might have.  We hope this has in some way helped you to understand the checks and why they are performed.


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