Steel strapping is one of the most popular ways of securing very heavy or oversized loads for transport, to protect them from moving around and potentially becoming damaged. It is, however, potentially dangerous if used incorrectly, so we have written this guide to ensure that you and your personnel stay safe.
It can be easy to forget about PPE when you are dealing with strapping, but the fact is that the tools you use – and the steel itself – are extremely sharp and present a very real risk to safety. At a minimum you will need eye protection and cut-resistant gloves, with steel-reinforced boots or shoes, long sleeves and trousers all being a good idea.
There are several stages to using steel strapping – you need to wrap the strap, tension it, seal it and cut it. Each stage requires the use of the correct equipment to improve safety. Never try to tension the strap simply by pulling it manually, and never try to cut it with anything other than a specially designed steel strapping cutter. These cutters should be long-handled, to ensure that there is as much space as possible between your hands and the strap itself.
When tensioning the strapping it is also important to make sure that you do not over-tension, as this can cause the seal or strapping to break, either during the strapping process or when the cargo is loaded and in transit.
As an addition – it should also be noted that cutting tensioned steel strapping will result in the strap snapping back at speed and potentially causing damage to stock, equipment or vehicles or injuring personnel, so do so with extreme care and vigilance and ensure that your surroundings are free of personnel or property before you cut.
When you are removing strapping, it is important to be aware of where the strap is likely to go when you cut it. If it is wrapped horizontally, then you can lean your body against the strap, and cut it to one side, retaining one side of the steel while the other snaps away from you. If the strap is wrapped vertically, then the key is to put as much distance as possible between you and the strap, hold it firmly against the load and cut below your hand, forcing the tension into the floor.
Another important factor is to pay attention to the load itself – the purpose of the strapping is to retain and hold it in position so, when you remove that retention, it is fair to assume that the load will shift. For palleted goods or where the strapping has been used to secure boxes and the like, this might not be much of an issue (although it is still worth keeping an eye on), but if you are unloading pipes, timber or other goods that might easily roll or fall from the bulk then you will need to make sure that you compensate for this.