You should always shop smart when selecting a tie-down strap, making sure that it is strong, durable, and rather importantly resistant to degradation. The last of these is indeed essential. If you find yourself having to inspect relatively new tie-down straps and find any wear or damage around the buckle, then the manufacturer has not held up its side of the bargain. The whole point of tie-down straps is that they are safe.
However, there may eventually come a time when a regular inspection of tie-down straps becomes a good idea. If you are running a larger enterprise that makes use of a lot of tie-down straps, it is then that damage can go unnoticed and inspection becomes an important task.
Tie-Down Strap Maintenance
Rollercam, a company specializing in cam straps for both commercial and consumer applications, advise that tie-down strap inspection is best carried out immediately after each use. By applying a bit of diligence to ensure this regularity, you will always spot a potentially dangerous problem before it can present a safety concern. But more than just that though, inspecting often will also allow you to ameliorate any potential damage. For example, if you inspect the buckle of a cam strap and notice that it squeaks a little when in use, then you know it is time to apply some oil. And so, the strap lives on.
How to Inspect Your Tie-Down Straps
Besides perhaps being sure to test the buckle or the ratchet, inspecting a tie-down strap is really nothing more complicated than simply looking at it. However, to do this effectively, you need to know what it is you are looking for. And beyond that, you also need to know when damage presents a safety concern and when it is okay to use the strap again. There is usually little you can do in the way of repair, but regular inspection will ensure the safety of yourself, your employees, and the cargo.
To this end, here then follows a list of what to look out for:
Abrasion refers to the effect of friction on the strap. Look for any loose strands and other evidence of friction along the length of the strap. You can then judge how weak that point of the strap has become. Abrasion often occurs where the strap is being threaded into the buckle.
A broken thread is easy to spot as it will show as a kink in in the strap with a clear line running the entirety of its width. We are referring here to the stronger threads that hold the strap together, not the odd loose strand.
Thanks to the synthetic material used in tie-down straps, a burn will be easily identifiable as a charred black area in the strap. If you notice one, it is always best to throw out the strap.
Cuts are damage caused by sharp objects, and they look just like cuts in a piece of paper. Cuts create a point of dangerous weakness in the strap, so you should always dispose of a cut tie-down strap.
If you spot a knot in your tie-down strap, then the solution is usually simply to undo the knot. Only if the knot has been there for a long time will this present a safety hazard, which only underscores the importance of checking regularly.
Ultimately, regular inspection is the key and, if you do this, it is probable that the damage will be minor, and the strap can be saved. Knowing how to spot when a strap has become unsafe, however, is vitally important.