We would always suggest that the best time to replace a sling is as soon as you first notice any signs of wear & tear, or damage. The main reason for this is for patient safety - it is simply not worth the risk!
What do I need to look out for that will mean I need to replace a sling?
- Any sign fabric or tape fraying
- Faded labels*
- Loose/broken/worn stitching
- When ‘non-manufacturer’ stitching is present (when somebody other than the manufacture has repaired the sling)
- Faded/discolouring/staining of material
- Broken Clips, buckles
- Velcro that is starting to lose its strength
- Quilting/Padding that is defected in anyway
- Any rips, snags, cuts, holes/punctures or any damage to material – eg Cigarette burns
*This is an important point – if the label is faded and unreadable, there is no way of telling what the specific sling instruction and details are such as the safe working load and washing instructions. Some companies that perform LOLER inspections will fit a tag to the sling to replace the details from the worn label; however it is important to note that the majority of sling manufacturers advise replacing the sling when the label is worn. Therefore should an incident occur the manufacturer would not be held responsible, and there is a likelihood that it would fall on the owner of the sling.
Slings, like hoists come under the LOLER regulation 1998, which means they need to be visually inspected every 6 months by a competent person. However, a lot can change with slings within a 6-month period especially in a high usage environment, so what is really important is that before each and every sling transfer is made, the carer carrying out the transfer must visually inspect the sling before they use it. If any of the above defects are found, the sling must be taken out of service immediately.
If you are ever unsure whether a sling needs replacing or not – you can ask yourself the following question ‘Would I be happy and comfortable to use this sling to lift a close family member?’
If the answer is no – it is time to replace the sling.
Just remember, whilst there is a cost to replace a sling, this cost is nothing compared to the potential cost of an accident or fatality, and the huge repercussions that this can bring.
It’s a risk not worth taking!