What is the purpose of this guide?

The purpose of this guide is to assist employers and employees in the proper selection, use, and maintenance of slings and in the recognition of hazards associated with their use. This guide is designed to assist you in understanding and complying with OSHA's standards for sling use in General Industry, Maritime, and Construction.

You should also be aware that there are certain States (OSHA-approved State Plans) which operate their own programs under agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, pursuant to section 18 of the OSH Act. These programs may differ in some details from the Federal OSHA program.

Why is this guide important?

From time to time almost all employees are involved in moving materials, structures or products; these activities often lead to injuries, which in many instances can be avoided by using safe materials handling practices. To avoid sprains, strains, muscle pulls or more severe injuries including death, whenever possible, ensure that mechanical means are used to move heavy, bulky objects.

Equipment such as powered industrial trucks, cranes, hoists, and derricks are used to aid in the movement of materials (especially large, bulky, or heavy loads). These types of equipment use slings to hold their suspended loads. This guide will offer information on the proper selection, use, and maintenance of slings.

Who should read this guide?

The handling of materials and finished products is key to the successful operation of many industries, which use, manufacture, construct, and sell materials, structures, or products. Anyone (including employers, employees, safety professionals, and engineers) responsible for handling of or moving materials and finished products from one location to another should read this guide. This guide can help you identify and manage the hazards associated with sling use.

What OSHA standards apply?

Although this guide discusses and makes recommendations on slings, there are legal requirements in OSHA standards that you must know about and comply with. The most important standard for you depends on the type of work you are doing. If you are working in general industry, ensure that your materials handling activities follow 29 CFR 1910.184 for sling use. In addition, you should consider looking at a related standard for overhead and gantry cranes, 29 CFR 1910.179. If you are working in shipyard employment, then 29 CFR 1915.112 is the standard to follow. If you are working in construction, 29 CFR 1926.251 is the standard to follow. Other standards include 29 CFR 1917.13, Slinging, for marine terminals and 29 CFR 1918.81, Slinging, for longshoring.

Consult these standards to ensure full compliance with their provisions.

In States with OSHA-approved State plans there are equivalent or stricter standards. Consult these standards to ensure full compliance with their provisions.

OSHA standards and documents are available online at

Sling manufacturers often manufacture and mark slings in accordance with the specifications set forth in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard B30.9-2018, Slings, rather than with the specifications found in OSHA's existing sling standards. As long as there is no indication that the newer ASME specifications have lessened employee safety, OSHA will continue to accept, under its policy for de minimis violations, the use of slings manufactured and marked in compliance with the ASME standard. De minimis violations require no correction and result in no penalty.

This guidance document is a combination of OSHA's sling standards, ASME's consensus standard, and other relevant information. However, this guidance document is not intended to imply or impose any additional regulatory requirements beyond the requirements in OSHA's standards. This guidance document does include information on synthetic round slings, which are not covered in OSHA's sling standards. In the absence of a specific OSHA standard, the General Duty Clause in section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

What type of hazards should I look for?

This guide will help employers and employees recognize hazardous conditions, such as:

  • Improper sling or attachments for the type of load to be lifted and the environment in which it is being lifted;
  • Worn slings and attachments or those with damage such as cracks, kinks, bends, cuts, gouges, and frayed fibers; and
  • Improper storage of slings and misuses such as resting of loads on the sling or dragging of slings across abrasive floors.

This guide will also help employers and employees identify and avoid hazardous work practices, such as:

  • Riding slings or walking under suspended loads; and
  • Using improperly repaired or reconditioned slings and attachments or slings and attachments that must be removed from service.

Types of Slings

This section describes several types of slings and provides specific information for their proper selection, use, and maintenance. This guidance document is not an attempt to explain OSHA's sling standard requirements. It is advisory in nature and informational in content and its recommendations on safe practices should help reduce and prevent injuries and fatalities related to improper sling use. It also discusses slings which are currently in use that are not covered in OSHA's standard.

There are several varieties of slings, including: alloy steel chain, wire rope, metal mesh, natural fiber rope, synthetic fiber rope, synthetic web, and synthetic round slings. Each type of sling has its advantages and disadvantages.

Many factors come into play when choosing the best sling for the task at hand. These include size, strength, flexibility, and weight, as well as suitability for the work environment, shapes of the load, and environmental conditions in which the sling will be used. Below are links to the six types of slings. Click on a link to view information on that type of sling.

  1. Alloy Steel Chain Slings
  2. Wire Rope Slings
  3. Metal Mesh Slings
  4. Natural and Synthetic Fiber Rope Slings
  5. Synthetic Web Slings
  6. Synthetic Round Slings