SAFETY ALERT: Vehicle recovery using ‘Snatch straps’

Ashleigh Coombs - Thursday, November 24, 2016

Recently a DEWNR employee attempted to recover a bogged contractor vehicle using two snatch straps joined with a shackle. The weight of vehicles involved (a DEWNR 4WD truck and the contractor’s semi-trailer) exceeded the rated capacity for the snatch straps and as a result a strap broke and the shackle recoiled into the DEWNR vehicle breaking the towing hitch.

The breaking and uncontrolled recoil of a snatch strap and shackle is a very dangerous occurrence with the potential to cause serious injury or even death to members of the recovery team.

Key factors in this instance were the use of snatch straps of insufficient rating for the task at hand and the use of a shackle to join the two snatch straps.

Forthwith, staff and managers must adhere to the following requirements when undertaking vehicle recovery using snatch straps.

1. The snatch straps minimum breaking strength must be at least double the gross vehicle mass (GVM) of the lighter of the two vehicles (plus its load) used in the recovery.

2. A recoil damper must be used in conjunction with the strap. All recovery equipment must be of a known and sufficient rating or strength for the intended recovery.

3. Snatch straps must only be joined by looping together. Under no circumstances are any other devices such as shackles or similar to be used. Only snatch straps can be used together to increase length.

4. Only the manufacturer’s recognised hitching points are to be used (ensure you identify these prior to driving your vehicle). Under no circumstance should any other attachment be used e.g. Tow ball, roo bars etc.

5. Bystanders must be at a safe distance, approximately 1.5 to 2 times the length of an unstretched snatch strap, from the vehicles.

6. Prior to any attempt, staff must be trained and competent in vehicle recovery practices.

While helping others to recover their vehicle(s) staff must not place DEWNR assets, staff, contractors and/or members of the public in jeopardy. Staff should be familiar with any relevant risk assessment and safe work practices, and apply a dynamic risk assessment approach.

If correctly rated and suitable equipment is not available, staff are not to attempt recovery of a vehicle. Under no circumstance should safety be compromised.

DEWNR Contractors should be aware of the foreseeable hazards associated with their work prior to entering into a contract and be able to satisfy DENWR that they have a reasonable capacity to control them. In this case they should carry appropriate equipment to recover their vehicles.

A generic Vehicle Recovery Risk Assessment is available (through DEWNR) but all business units with local procedures or risk assessments are requested to consider this advice and amend any non compliances.

Should you have any questions please contact the Workplace Safety and Wellbeing Unit.

Prepared by:Peter Bercys,
Snr Safety Projects Officer,
Workplace Safety and Wellbeing Unit.

Authorised by:
David Wearing,
Manager Workplace Safety and Wellbeing Unit.

Date Issued: November 2016

Remove from Notice Boards: January 2017


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