If you've found yourself holding a ratchet strap and wondering what to do with it, this blog is for you. In this comprehensive guide to ratchet straps, we're going to cover everything you need to know, from understanding lashing capacity to how to correctly store your equipment.
What are ratchet straps?
Ratchet straps (also known as ratchet lashings or tie-downs) are a type of load restraint product that can be used to secure loads for transport. A ratchet strap consists of a ratcheting mechanism and a webbing strap. The straps can be supplied in a variety of different sizes depending on what you're ratcheting down.
Ratchet straps are often used to secure loads that are being transported by trailer, van, lorry or flatbed truck. They are also used to secure cargo shipped by air and sea. The humble ratchet strap is a supremely versatile piece of equipment!
If you want to know more about securing loads, the types of load that have to be secured, and the potential consequences of failing to do so, here's some guidance from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency.
What does 'minimum breaking strength' (MBS) mean?
Different ratchet straps have different strengths, indicated by the product's minimum breaking strength (MBS). This refers to the amount of weight a ratchet lashing can withstand before it sustains damage or breaks. It is also referred to as the minimum breaking load (MBL).
It's vital to check each ratchet strap's minimum breaking strength when securing a new load; neglecting to do so can create very dangerous situations, potentially causing severe property damage, personal injury, and even loss of life.
What does 'lashing capacity' (LC) mean?
Lashing capacity (LC) refers to the maximum allowable tension in the ratchet strap. LC is measured in deka-Newtons (daN), and is usually marked on the ratchet strap itself. It's also worth remembering that the lashing capacity is NOT the same thing as the amount of weight that a strap can hold. Here's a good rule of thumb: the maximum load a strap can secure is usually double the lashing capacity. For example, a strap with a LC of 1500 daN can secure a load of 3000kg.
This PDF from Highways England has some useful information about lashing capacity and safely securing loads.
What does 'standard tension force' (STF) mean?
Standard tension force (STF) is another measurement you may find on your lashing strap. STF is the measure of the tension created by your lashing strap when tying down a load. Similar to lashing capacity, standard tension force is also measured in deka-Newtons (daN).
To give you idea of how the standard tension force is applied, a strap with a STF of 2500daN will put 2500kg of force on top of the load it is securing.
How should I store my ratchet straps?
Storing your ratchet straps improperly can cause rapid wear and tear, so it's worth taking the time to care for them and make sure they're stored correctly. If your strap sustains damage because it was kept in the wrong place, it could snap or fail during use, which may cause a potentially fatal accident.
Although it might be tempting to just throw your ratchet straps in a bucket or storage bin, this can result in the straps getting tangled up with other items, causing problems when you need to use them again.
The best way to store your ratchet straps is to wrap each one - this keeps them clean, ordered, and reduces tangles and damage. We have some tips on the best way to roll your ratchet straps to minimise wear:
- Close the ratcheting mechanism.
- Feed the long part of the webbing though the windlass, leaving around 15 inches of strap out.
- Fold your webbing over, around 3 feet down (to prevent the tip of the webbing from fraying) and begin to roll the webbing up in a tight roll, keeping it as square and as tight as you can.
- Lay the roll flat on top of the ratcheting mechanism.
- Take the short end and permanently attached hook and tuck it in as closely as you can to the bundle.
- Take the ~15 inches of long webbing that you left hanging out and bring it over the top of the rolled webbing, hooking / tucking it under the handle of the ratcheting mechanism. If you don't have the right amount of webbing, let some out / tighten it a little more until you have a suitable length to secure the rolled webbing. Once you find the correct amount of webbing, you can mark it with a marker pen so next time you can easily roll up your ratchet straps without the fuss.
Why is it important to secure loads using ratchet straps?
There are a number of dangers involved in transporting heavy loads, especially if they haven't been tied down properly. Incorrectly securing a load could result in an accident and, worst case scenario, a serious injury or death - more than half of all death / injury incidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive involve workplace transport. So taking a few extra minutes to ensure that your load is correctly secured and that your ratchet mechanisms and straps are in good condition could save a life.
Incorrectly securing a load could also result in the load moving around during transit, causing damage and potentially huge financial losses.
If you have loads that need securing, browse the wide range of ratchet lashings available from SafetyLiftinGear today to find the right equipment for you.
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If you have any questions about ratchet straps or anything else discussed in this blog post, feel free to reach and contact the SafetyLiftinGear team today.
READ MORE: Secure Your Loads With Our Load Restraint Systems