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Failure of slings during loading operations

What happened

Personnel were loading out heavy plant at a land-based location when there was an incident involving failure of slings. A crew were lifting a large tank with a forklift using nylon slings and shackles from the lifting eyes at the top. The forklift carrying the tank to the trailer had to move over some rough ground and the tank was moving around and bouncing, so spotters were used on both sides. One sling failed and the tank dropped to the ground on that side. Then another sling failed, causing damage to both sides of the tank bottom, valves, and one leg was bent. There were no injuries.

Work was stopped to regroup and discuss.

What went right

  • A toolbox talk took place which covered the hazards;
  • Spotters were used and all personnel were in their correct and safe positions.

What went wrong

  • The slings broke due to the sharp edges not being protected there would have been high dynamic loads as the load shifted while being manoeuvered over rough ground.


  • Ensure sharp corners and edges are protected before using soft slings – it is possible in this case that the edge of a fork was the sharp edge that cut the sling.
  • A better practice would be to use a lifting attachment of some sort, or a crane – could the lift be done without soft slings?

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 24 October 2022
Download: IMCA SF 23/22

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