Crane Tech was hired by a nationally recognized US chemical manufacturer to train their employees at a master rigger level. During training our instructor noticed that a key piece of information was missing from the synthetic sling tag. He could have taken it at face value and gone about training, but never one to leave things alone, our instructor decided to follow the rabbit trail and found a little twisted tale of how a sling got thru at least three layers of quality control before landing on the plant floor. Instead of leaving this story as an office legend to be believed by a few, we thought it might be helpful to share this example and challenge your thought processes regarding initial inspections of rigging gear and quality control standards.
We will start the story with the US sling manufacturer that markets themselves (according to their website) as “one of the leading brands of synthetic slings…that uses better quality materials, better consistency in manufacturing and better quality controls.” So why then when our instructor looked at the sling tag, he was quickly able to determine that there was no mark to identify the sling material? Making the sling non-compliant with Federal and ASME requirements that state the sling must be marked to show the type of synthetic web material.
- ASME B30.9-5.7.1(d) Identification Requirements. Type of synthetic web material.
- OSHA 1910.184 (i)(1) Sling identification. Each sling shall be marked or coded to show the rated capacities for each type of hitch and type of synthetic web material.
In an effort to alert the manufacturer to this issue we called them. The company looked up the stock number and informed us that it was a polyester sling. But our question is, how would the user know which of the particular letters in a sequence of numbers noted the sling material? How would they know if the sling was safe to use around acid vapors or various chemicals? If it were a nylon sling it would deteriorate in these conditions, etc. Upon further communication with the manufacturer they believed the sling had been marked appropriately and after looking further at our client’s other slings from that same manufacturer we noticed inconsistencies across the board with not following a standard tag, even across the products they make. So much for “consistency in manufacturing and better quality controls…” The manufacturer did offer to retag the slings for the client and we can only hope that their new found awareness will prompt a change in their manufacturing quality controls.
So we can agree that the manufacturer missed the boat on this tag, so let’s look at what happened at the client’s location. The sling was received and before it could be used, it was supposed to go through an initial inspection. One would assume it had been through an initial quality control check, as the sling had been tagged with the appropriate colored zip tie, marking it as being under current periodic inspection, and thus safe for use. So how did the sling with missing information on the tag get past the inspector? Maybe because it was new it was assumed that it was OK? Maybe an untrained acceptance inspector didn’t recognize the deficiency? Whatever the reason, our client learned a valuable lesson and is thankful there were no incidents with this sling. To add to the complexity of this particular situation, the client is using a third-party company to periodically inspect their rigging gear.
We applaud our client for trying to do the right thing. Having their slings inspected on a periodic basis by a Qualified Person, even paying a third-party inspection company to ensure their ability to maintain safety. But this should be a reminder that vendors hired to look out for your interests need to be monitored as well. Verify their training and qualifications and spot check periodically to protect your investment. With this example, it is apparent that the third-party inspectors did not possess the knowledge to do that job. Several weeks later the inspection company attended one of Crane Tech’s Rigging Inspector courses; we hope they will do a better job for our client in the future.
While the discovery at this client’s site took us down an all too familiar path, we want to challenge you to be less assuming and hold your contractors and vendors to a high standard. Or, at least in this situation, the ‘standard’. Chasing your questions and suspicions down the proverbial rabbit hole can provide the challenges and learning experiences that further your expertise and improve the safety of your site.
We want to hear from you! Answer our poll question on your rigging inspection program. Then stay tuned in for the next several weeks for our in-depth posts on rigging topics, such as Initial Inspections and Stopping to Ask ‘Why?’ before destroying your rigging gear.
Did you miss last week’s post on Qualifying Your Riggers then click here.