The use of slings with ceiling, floor or sit to stand lifts, as well as sling care, can influence the overall condition of the sling over time. The lifespan of a sling can be impacted by different factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: frequency of washing, washing temperature, detergents, disinfectants, frequency of use, client weight, and misuse.
To ensure safe sling use in any care setting, it is essential that all slings be visually inspected prior to each use by the person using the lift equipment. As part of Quality Improvement in facility care settings, a documented inspection program should also be established to formally inspect all slings to ensure regular checks of the sling’s integrity and its safe usage. Any sling that does not pass a pre or formal inspection should be pulled from use immediately.
There is no method to measure the strength of a sling once it is put into service. HighStar Healthcare recommends a set of visual guidelines to assess the condition of a sling currently in use. Any visual inspection is only a subjective evaluation and therefore can never be considered a guarantee of safety, however, it can reduce the risk of failure.
Guideline for Conducting a Visual Inspection
- Lay sling out on a flat surface so that all areas of the sling are visible.
- Check all loops at their connection/stress points. Twist and pull these with your fingers and look for any signs of fraying.
- Check the stitching of the entire sling, look for any fraying or loose stitching.
- Check the sling for heat damage. This may be detected as an overall shrinking of the sling or may be noticed on the padded leg section and be identified by a shrinking or scrunching of the leg portion. Additionally, heat damage may be found on other areas by noticing a brittle or ridged/stiff feel to the fabric, or damaged label.
- Check the body of the sling for any breaches in integrity, such as rips or holes.
- Check the sling for signs of exposure to bleach. This may be suspected if there is fading of the sling and/or the identification labels. Reject any sling laundered with bleach.
- Check the sling for excessive staining. While some staining may occur through use by an incontinent patient other staining may indicate exposure to chemicals.
Failure to pass inspection in any one of the above areas requires that sling be removed from service. If there is any question concerning the safe condition of a sling, remove it from service.