Chain Sling Inspection | 5 Steps for In-Depth Inspection from CM

chain by columbus mckinnon

In-Depth Alloy Chain Sling Inspection | 5 Steps

How should you conduct an in-depth alloy chain sling inspection? Columbus McKinnon is here on the Hercules SLR blog to share what a professional rigger needs to know when they perform an alloy chain sling inspection. 

This blog will cover: 

  • Twists and bends in your chain sling,
  • Nick, cuts & gouges in the chain links 
  • Wear and corrosion 
  • Chain stretch and elongation
  • OSHA guidelines for chain sling inspection 

Read on to become a chain sling inspection pro. 


Consider that chain is evaluated by applying loads in a pure tensile link end-to-link-end fashion and rated accordingly.

Rigging chain around edges or corners alters the normal loading pattern significantly. A lack of proper padding or consideration of the D/d ratio (see above) for chain can result in twisted and bent links. Once a chain is twisted or bent it will alter inner link stresses which can result in failure. For this reason, all chain containing twisted or bent links must be removed from service immediately.

Since 1933, the National Association of Chain Manufacturers represents domestic manufacturers of welded and weldless chain and have conducted D/d testing on alloy chain. 

As a result of this testing, the NACM came out with the chart below which shows reductions in working load limits based on D/d ratio of alloy chain rigged around an edge or a corner. Consult the manufacturer for any D/d below 2.  ASME B30.9 2014 has adopted this chart into the new standard.

columbus mckinnon chain sling rated capacities







CHAIN SLING INSPECTION PART 2: NICKS & GOUGESchain sling link tensile and compression stress pattern

When chain is used to lift, pull or secure materials, the outside surface of the links can come in contact with foreign objects that can cause damage. Nicks and gouges frequently occur on the sides of a chain link, which are under compressive stress, reducing their potentially harmful effects.

The unique geometry of a chain link tends to protect tensile stress areas against damage from external causes. Figure 1 shows that these tensile stress areas are on the outside of the link body at the link ends where they are shielded against most damage by the presence of interconnected links.

Tensile stress areas are also located on the insides of the straight barrels, but these surfaces are similarly sheltered by their location. However, gouges can cause localized increases in the link stress and can be harmful if they are located in areas of tensile stress, especially if they are perpendicular to the direction of stress. Refer to Figure 1.

Figure 2 shows nicks of varying degrees of severity. Reading clockwise, at three o’clock there is a longitudinal mark in a compressive stress area. Since it is longitudinal and located in a compressive stress area, its effect is mitigated, but good workmanship calls for it to be filed out by hand.

At about five o’clock there is a deep transverse nick in an area of high-stress. A similar nick is located at six o’clock in the zone of maximum tensile stress. Both of these nicks can create a potentially dangerous escalation of the local stress and must be filed out with careful attention to not damage other parts of the chain link or chain. A nick that was located at eight o’clock has been filed out properly.

Although the final cross section is smaller, the link is stronger because the stress riser effect of the notch has been removed. The remaining cross section can now be evaluated for acceptability by measuring it and applying the criterion for worn chain. See the “Wear Allowances Table” below. 

chain sling wear allowances table










When used in rigorous material handling applications, chain becomes worn or corroded easily. It is important to inspect chain for defects on a regular basis to avoid an unsafe lifting condition or even operator injury. When corrosion and wear occur, it results in a reduction of link cross-section which can lead to decreased strength of the chain.

Corrosion can occur anywhere chain comes in contact with harsh chemicals, water or when it is used in tough environments.

Wear can occur in any portion of a link that is subject to contact with another surface.

The natural shape of chain confines wear, for the most part, to only two areas. These are, in order of importance, (a) at the bearing points of interlink contact, and (b) on the outsides of the straight side barrels that may be scraped from dragging chains along hard surfaces or out from under loads.

collapsed chain link example
Figure 2: Inspection for interlink wear can easily be detected be collapsing the chain.

Figure 2 illustrates the condition of interlink wear and shows how to inspect for it. Notice how easily such  wear can be detected by collapsing the chain to separate each link from its neighbors. An operator or inspector can also check for corrosion using the same method.

When chain wear or corrosion is observed, the next step is to determine how severe the damage is and if the chain can still be safely used.

General surface corrosion can be removed by cleaning and oiling the chain. If pitting is observed after cleaning and oiling, remove from service. Next, the operator should take a caliper measurement across the worn section of chain and compare it to the minimum allowable dimension for that chain.

See the Wear Allowances chart above for minimum section dimensions or chain wear allowances for Grade 80 and 100 Chain. If the chain does not meet these minimum dimensions, it should be removed from service and replaced.



A visual link-by-link inspection is the best way to detect dangerously stretched alloy chain links.

Reach should be measured from the upper bearing point on the master link to the bearing point on the lower hook. The smallest sign of binding or loss of clearance at the juncture points of a link indicates a collapse in the links’ sides due to stretch. Any amount of stretch indicates overloading, and the chain should be removed from service.

Note: A significant degree of stretch in a few individual links may be hidden by the apparent acceptable length gauge of the overall chain. This highlights the importance of link-by-link inspection.

Alloy steel sling chain typically exhibits well over 20% elongation before rupture. The combination of elongation and high strength provides energy absorption capacity.

However, high elongation or stretch, by itself, is not an adequate indicator of shock resistance or general chain quality and should not be relied upon by riggers to provide advance warning of serious overloading and impending failure.

Prevent overloading the chain sling by selecting the right type and size of sling. Again, any amount of stretch means the sling’s been overloaded and it should be removed from service.

There is no short-cut method that will disclose all types of chain damage. Safety can only be achieved through proper inspection procedures. There is no adequate substitute for careful link-by-link scrutiny.


OSHA Chain Sling Inspection standards have gone through minimal changes since they were published on July 27, 1975. These regulations serve as a guide for rigger’s and other competent personnel that will inspect chain slings. 

Applicable sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR 1910.184) include:

CHAIN SLING INSPECTION | 1910.184(d) Inspections

Each day before being used, the sling and all fastenings and attachments shall be inspected for damage or defects by a competent person designated by the employer. Additional inspections shall be performed during sling use, where service conditions warrant. Damaged or defective slings shall be immediately removed from service.

CHAIN SLING INSPECTION | 1910.184(e) Alloy Chain Slings

CHAIN SLING INSPECTION: 1910.184(e)(1) Sling Identification

Alloy steel chain slings shall have permanently affixed durable identification stating size, grade, rated capacity and reach.

CHAIN SLING INSPECTION: 1910.184(e)(2) Attachments

  • 1910.184(e)(2)(I)

Hooks, rings, oblong links, pear shaped links, welded or mechanical coupling links or other attachments shall have a rated capacity at least equal to that of the alloy steel chain with which they are used or the sling shall not be used in excess of the rated capacity of the weakest component.

  • 1910.184(e)(2)(ii)

Makeshift links or fasteners formed from bolts or rods, or other such attachments, shall not be used.

CHAIN SLING INSPECTION: 1910.184(e)(3) Inspections

  • 1910.184(3)(I)

In addition to the inspection required by paragraph (d) of this section, a thorough periodic inspection of alloy steel chain slings in use shall be made on a regular basis, to be determined on the basis of (A) frequency of sling use; (B) severity of service conditions; (C) nature of lifts being made; and (D) experience gained on the service life of slings used in similar circumstances. Such inspections shall in no event be at intervals greater than once every 12 months.

  • 1910.184(e)(3)(iii)

The employer shall make and maintain a record of the most recent month in which each alloy steel chain sling was thoroughly inspected, and shall make such record available for examination.

  • 1910.184(e)(3)(iii)

The thorough inspection of alloy steel chain slings shall be performed by a competent person designated by the employer, and shall include a thorough inspection for wear, defective welds, deformation and increase in length. Where such defects or deterioration are present, the sling shall be immediately removed from service.

Please note that while the requirements under (d) for daily inspections are not explicit as to scope or maintenance of records, it is possible that individual OSHA inspectors may have different views on conformity—The minimum 12-month interval inspections required under (e) call for thorough inspection and written records.

To ensure you remain compliant with chain sling inspection in your area, be sure to check both manufacturer and provincial standards. 






INFO@HERCULESSLR.COM  1 (877) 461-4876


Hercules SLR is part of Hercules Group of Companies, with locations and unique businesses coast-to-coast. We provide securing, lifting and rigging services for sectors in Canada and Internationally. Hercules SLR serves the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any hoisting solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876 or email

Meet your Hercules SLR Inspector, Quincy Warner

inspector from hercules slr
Quincy Warner is a qualified inspector at Hercules SLR in Hamilton, Ontario. Read on to learn more about his career path in safety and inspections and Hercules SLR. 

We sit down with Quincy to talk about his duties as Inspector at Hercules SLR, including his professional safety experience, fall arrest, equipment inspections and his travels with Hercules SLR—Read on to learn more. 

“Hercules SLR will train you to better your self for that job. I am an inspector and I’ve had so much training in the 3 months that I’ve been here. It’s been great see they really show their employees they care.”
– Quincy Warner

Tell us about your educational/professional background:

I have worked in health and safety for over 15 years, and the last 5 have been in fall arrest. I also did training for fall arrest/protection, and how to inspect soft goods like self-retracting lifelines (SRL’s) and safety harnesses. 

What made you decide to go into this industry? 

I was looking for a change from what I was doing the last year or so, which was working on SRL’s. I was doing recertification of equipment, and teaching customers how to use the different types of SRL’s. Hercules has more to offer me with me being an inspector I can do a little more then just the SRL’S and fall arrest.

Can you tell us about your work experience before joining Hercules SLR?

I worked for a safety company in their tech services department. There, I helped work on SRL’S and did on-site soft good inspections for customers, and also trained them on different health and safety issues seen in the workplace. 

Why did you decide to work for Hercules SLR?   inspector, hercules inspection, chain repair

My biggest reason for joining the SLR team is you can move around in this company. By that, I mean you can ask to do or be placed in another job and they will train you to better your self for that job. I am an inspector and I had so much training in the last 3 months that I have been here and it has been great they really show the employee that they care and want you to progress with in the company.

“I can’t wait to get out in to the field and start working with our customers.” – Quincy Warner, Inspector




Where have you enjoyed traveling to most for training?

So far, Hercules SLR has sent me to a lot of places but the best was going out to head office in Halifax. I really learned a lot while I was out there and had fun meeting all the different people. We trained at the Hercules Training Academy for a week, and that was amazing to have offered to me and complete. 

Is there anywhere that you would like to travel to in the future with Hercules SLR?

I would like to go out to the different branches and shadow the different tech guys and girls. I find every branch has similar jobs, but the industry can be different. I’d like to see some new things out in the field that you might not find back at your branch. 

What’s something you’re most proud to have accomplished in your career as Inspector at Hercules SLR?

I started with Hercules SLR recently, and I’m most proud to have completed most of my training. I’m also proud to have learned a lot about this industry, and learned the things I have in just last three months.

I can’t wait to get out in to the field and start working with our customers. 


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  •  Safety Inspection: Make your Harness a Habit
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  •  Hercules Training Academy – Securing, Lifting and Rigging 
  •  Tool Fall Protection: More Important than you Think
  •  Are the Technicians Inspecting your Gear Qualified? 
  •  Women in Industry: Inspection Technician Heather Young 

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.

Safety Inspection: make your harness a habit


Safety Inspection: don’t fear the inspector

We get it—no one likes a safety inspection. However, having fall arrest and other PPE inspected is a reality everyone in the industrial trades must face. Part of this fear comes from the thought they’ll find things wrong, but have you ever considered…inspectors aren’t trying to make your work more difficult? 

Though it seems that way at times, Inspectors see accidents on worksites that are very avoidable and often happen during routine parts of the work day. Simply put, they want to help you, help yourself.

Safety inspection ensures you maintain productivity, keep costs low and have everyone home safely at the end of the day.

Read on for essential tips from one of our Hercules SLR Inspector’s to make sure you’re always inspection-ready.

Training is Key

Our Inspectors have seen the benefit of hands-on training directly at the Hercules Training Academy.

“The rigging fundamentals course at the Training Academy was amazing—everyone loved it. The experience was vital, and gave me so much more insight into how the rigging hardware I inspect works on the job,” says Quincy Warner, an Inspector from Hamilton, Ontario.

“Safety training can be, for lack of a better word, boring—especially when it only focuses on bookwork. Training for fall protection and safety should take a hands-on approach. For example, strapping someone into a safety harness and letting them fall from a crane to demonstrate the benefits of fall protection tends to stick with them better than reading from a manual. Experience is a great teacher.”

Safety training and physically showing workers the importance of safety harnesses and fall protection like self-retracting lifelines (SRL’s) makes all the difference between them wearing it or not.

Video via 3M showing hands-on safety training 

Inspect the Worksite

Something our Inspectors can’t stress enough is surveying the land you’ll be working on. Assess the area, the job and the safety equipment you’ll need to complete it. What are your fall protection needs—a lanyard, SRL or rescue line? What are the provincial PPE and safety requirements in your region?

Scouting the ground is an important part of assessing. Is the ground wet, are there high winds, is the site elevated—how is weather going to impact the work you’re doing? For example, ironworkers or roofers with jobs in light rain can make the site slippery, which increases the risk for injury.

Our Inspectors recommend a tripod, 3-way winch and/or an SRL for workers in sewers or the gas industry (anyone in confined spaces and/or working with hazardous materials) so you can be lifted and get out as soon as possible. A great option for lifting are a SRL and winch meant specifically to lift—these can be purchased at a lower cost as a packaged deal, and when used properly won’t need repairs. 

Assessing the land of your worksite and wearing the recommended PPE for the job type makes all the difference during safety inspection.

Fall Protection: not a fashion accessory

Many workers don’t realize that just simply wearing your safety harness or SRL isn’t enough, and unfortunately, many managers don’t either.

“A common issue I had while inspecting SRL’s and fall protection were workers only putting their PPE on when I’d show up—which defeats the purpose. How do I know that their harness fits them properly, that the worker has been trained on its proper usage if wearing PPE only happens when the Inspector’s around?” explains Warner. He stresses the importance of knowing the function of each piece of equipment to ensure it’s used properly.

Continues Warner, “Once, I repaired an SRL for a customer. who then fell using it. When I opened the SRL up and examined how it was used on the site, I realized they weren’t using it properly and it wasn’t even hooked up properly. Simply training workers on proper equipment usage can save a lot of money in repairs, extensive paperwork, productivity and most importantly, can save lives.”

Workers should be familiar with the proper fall protection equipment to be lifted, lowered or to move horizontally.

Worker at height with safety harness and lanyard. 

Safety Inspection Reduces Costs

No matter what the outside looks like, the inside of a SRL always tells a story. Our inspectors often find issues when they cut open a SRL. The inside can show whether it was used in a fall, or used improperly. This often results in large bills, which are preventable with the right training.

For example, a large company may have around 20 fall protection units. On average, the bill to repair a SRL and tripod is about $1200. A stretched-out wire rope could cost nearly $800 to repair, and bent tripod legs are on average about $200 to repair. These repairs are often the result of using equipment improperly or for the wrong job.

For employers and project managers, safety can be a large financial cost that’s easy to reduce when you invest in the right training and equipment. 

Be your Own Inspector

Always have your PPE on you and make it a habit. Our Inspectors recommend always keeping your PPE in your work truck, like you would with any other tool. Treat your PPE like a car—to drive it safely, you must care and maintain for it.

To inspect your SRL:

  1. Check impact indicator to ensure the SRL has not suffered any falls.
  2. Check hardware to ensure it is not heavily corroded.
  3. Check conduit and webbing to make sure there are no cuts to the webbing. If the SRL has a cable, ensure there are no kinks or strands in the cable.
  4. Ensure the SRL activates and retracts properly.

See your PPE as something essential, not optional and you’ll always be prepared for safety inspection.


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.