Why You Shouldn’t Lax On Wire Rope Safety


Wire Ropes should be regularly inspected and replaced if worn as snapping is a serious safety hazard. Wire ropes are used in a variety of different industries including but not limited ferry services, lifts, and mining. They are made of several strands of twisted metal wires that join together to form a helix. They are very strong and can hold a massive weight which is why they are usually neglected when they are used to carry loads that they can easily handle. They were first used in the early 19th century when they were pioneered by a German mining engineer. They became commonplace as they were exponentially better than metal chains or hemp that were previously used. The design has been innovated over the years to the extent that they have been used for cable cars, power transmitting, and suspension bridges. Rope Services Direct is a great example of the wide range of products available as they provide for a contrast of different clients.


Safety is an important part of any industry and companies that use wire ropes are no exception. The wires undergo stress from changing forces that cause wear and degradation. Each rope is different and the lifetime subsequently varies between cases but every rope needs to be regularly inspected to find any wire breaks. The breaks can be easily repaired and replaced so there is no excuse for not ensuring that regular inspections are carried out correctly. Wire ropes are oft neglected as they are believed to be too strong to fail which is a complete fallacy.

There are many examples of how neglecting proper inspections and safety can lead to disaster and an example of this is from July 2014 when a Wightlink ferry’s wire rope snapped and caused injuries to eleven passengers and one crew member. The report was recently published and found that there were failures in Wightlinks’ maintenance of the wires. The report stated that the wires were not regularly greased which was an issue that had been pointed out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency only nine months before the incident.  The inspectors discovered that there was a serious of breaches in safety made by Wightlink. They noted that some of the major contributors to the incident occurring were; incorrect adjustment of lifting ropes, corrosion of the hydraulic pipes, leakage of hydraulic oil. It is clear that stringent maintenance is required and that daily inspections should not be taken lightly.

Wire ropes revolutionised industry and were an integral part of the catalyst that powered the industrial revolution however, like any other piece of machinery, regular maintenance is required to ensure that safety is prevalent. Regular inspections are required to identify and worn wired so that they can be replaced or repaired as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The example of the Wightlink failure shows that these accidents do happen and do need to be warned against.