Health and safety training community

Personal protective equipment ropes


While thinking about personal protective equipment ropes come first in mind. Ropes may be constructed from natural fibre, wire or man-made fibre.

Natural fibre ropes are made from materials of vegetable origin, such as manila hemp, sisal, coir and cotton, and manufacturers do not normally provide a certificate stating the safe working load (SWL). However, it is normal for the breaking strength to be specified by the manufacturer from which the purchaser can ascertain the SWL.

Natural fibre rope

Natural fibre rope

Fibre ropes are not legally required to have a test certificate before being taken into service, but they do require examination every six months and, therefore, should be capable of identification. They should be inspected regularly, and before use, for evidence of chemical attack, discolouration, weakness, reduced diameter or rot due to mildew, in which case they should be destroyed.

When lifting loads with sharp edges, the rope should be protected with packing.

It is common practice to designate a factor of safety for natural fibre ropes thus:

  • new ropes used on a direct lift – not less than six
  • ropes used as slings.
Wire ropes

Wire ropes

Wire ropes are composed of strands of wire, the number of wires per strand being termed the ‘construction’ of the rope. Broken wires should require attention, the actual position of the breaks being significant. Where breaks occur over a short distance, or occur in one or two strands, the rope should be removed from service and the cause investigated.

Frequent lubrication of wire ropes is necessary to reduce wear, exclude moisture and delay corrosion. They should be stored in a clean dry place, cleaned after use, and hung on pegs to prevent corrosion and kinking.

Wire ropes should never be knotted as a means of joining ropes. They may be joined by the use of sockets, swaged ferrules, bulldog clips or by splicing.

Man made fibre ropes

Man made fibre ropes

Man-made fibre ropes are generally manufactured in nylon or Terylene. Compared with natural fibre ropes they have a higher tensile strength, greater capacity for absorbing shock loading, freedom from rotting and mildew formation, can be stored whilst still wet, and their performance is the same whether wet or dry. They are less liable to degradation due to contact with oil, petrol and solvents and are more resistant to acids and other corroding agents.

Leave a comment