New guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will help employers select and use the appropriate slings when handling and moving materials. The document, Guidance on Safe Sling Use, was released September 27 by the agency.

"OSHA's current general industry standard is more than 30 years old," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "This guidance document will aid users in the safe selection and use of slings, including synthetic round slings, which are not covered in OSHA's standard, as well as the newer grades of materials being used in alloy steel chain and wire rope slings."

OSHA adopted its general industry sling standard on June 27, 1975, based on ANSI B30.9-1971 Slings standard. OSHA has since made only minor corrections. OSHA issued its construction industry sling standard on February 9, 1979, and its sling standard for shipyards on April 20, 1982.

Improper selection or use of slings can result in sling failure or load slippage, which in turn can lead to injuries or death. OSHA accident data for the years 1994 through 1996 show that there were four fatalities in general industry involving the misuse or failure of slings.

OSHA intends to format the final product for use on the Web. With the document in Web format, a user can quickly get information on the type of sling he or she is using without having to look through material that is not relevant to the workplace.