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The Dangers Of Rope Breaks

Safety matters

25 October 2012 - Rope and lines are extremely important pieces of equipment in the maritime and shipping industry. They are relied upon to do anything from lift and load heavy objects to keep vessels anchored in place. Traditionally steel wire is used for all heavy duty maritime applications but, with a greater concern being placed on workplace and worker safety, it is imperative to know the dangers associated with steel if and when it were to ever break. Steel wire cable is strong, which is why it is so commonly used, but it’s not unbreakable. Every rope or cable has a breaking point and you must know what happens when that point is reached.

When steel wire breaks it poses a serious threat to anyone nearby. It can cause great bodily injury or even death. The combination of the enormous energy and heavy weight causes recoil with incredible force. That recoil is highly unpredictable, flying back in a snake-like manner. On top of that, steel wire is made up of many small steel strands, when these strands are broken they create very sharp edges. Huge force, unpredictable behavior and lots of sharp edges, this is the risk stevedores and seafarers take when working with steel cables. What’s the alternative?

As many companies have already realised, worker safety is the top concern, not just in the shipping industry but in all workplaces. There are ropes made with Dyneema® fiber that are not only easier to handle and more efficient, but they severely reduce the risk posed to workers handling them. These ropes are 7 times lighter than steel at the same strength level. If they were to ever break, the recoil force is considerably less than with heavy steel. When they break, they recoil in a linear fashion, eliminating the dangerous unpredictability of steel and, because they are made of soft Dyneema® fiber, there are no sharp edges flying about.

The shipping industry is one of many dangers, and the more that can be done to reduce them the better. The aim is to improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of heavy duty maritime operations and create a safer, brighter working environment.

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