New to winching? Then read this article carefully. Because vehicle recovery with a winch is a high-risk activity. The risk can be reduced by following these important safety tips.
A winch is a powerful tool. Like all powerful tools, a certain amount of precaution is required for its use. Carefully observing the right safety measures during a winching operation may be the difference between a successful use of the tool, or a serious accident or injury.
It’s important to treat the winch with proper respect. Become familiar with the owner’s manual of the winch. Learn how to use it properly. Make sure to select the right winch for the job.
A winch needs some additional recovery equipment to do the winching job properly. Some of them include a snatch block, a shovel, a trunk protector, a short length chain and some D-Ring shackles.
Here are 10 important safety tips you should follow to take the maximum advantage of the winch and stay safe while winching.
10 Tips for Safe winching
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#1. Learn to Use Your Winch
This is the key to avoiding injuries and accidents. A winch which isn’t used properly is a significant safety risk. You must learn how to use a winch properly. Follow the owner’s manual of the winch and learn how to operate it properly.
Operating a winch improperly increases the risks you are taking. Instead of eliminating those risks by knowing exactly how to operate it, you are essentially fumbling in the dark with a machine that can break bones.
Let’s watch a video on how to use a winch while recovering a vehicle.
#2. Choose the Right Tool
Choose the right tool that is rated for your job. Consider your vehicle's weight before buying a winch. Select a winch that has enough pulling power to recover your vehicle. If the winch is rated at 1 ton, then you should never use it to move a 2-ton object! Choose other recovery equipment that is right for the job. Don’t take shortcuts!
Aside from the winch itself, carefully select the accessories along with it. Is the cable strong enough to handle the job? Will the hook hold? Are the straps capable of handling the weight without breaking? Each of those tools, if they break during operation, can cause a serious amount of damage.
#3. Inspect Before Use
Before you start, make sure the winch and other recovery equipment are in good working condition. The winch rope should not be frayed or tangled. Inspect all the components of the winch for any visible damage. Check the hydraulic fluid and the engine oil level. Ensure all operator controls are functional.
The smallest amount of damage can exponentially increase once the winching operation begins. The safest way to avoid accidents is to not give it the chance to occur.
#4. General Safety Precautions
The winch operator must be trained to perform safe winching. While handling the winch cable, sturdy gloves must be worn to protect your hands from injury.
You should dress appropriately for winching Winches should never be drowned or submerged in water. If a winch is submerged in water, then it must be checked and serviced by a skilled technician immediately.
These safety precautions will reduce the risk of accidents.
#5. Clear the Area
You must keep the area clear from anyone not directly involved in the winching work. Stand at a safe distance and keep animals and people away from the winching area. If the winch cable snaps, it can cause serious injury.
If the cable snaps, it will act like a whip that can hurt anyone within reach. If the winching accessories break, then the same can happen. There is a ton (or tons, literally) of force involved when winching. As much as possible, you want to get out of the way of that force.
So, always stay away from possible accidents.
#6. Check Cable Frequently
Recheck the winch cable prior to winching to ensure there are no kinks, frays or any kind of damage. If any kind of damage is found in the cable, replace it before the next use. Never work with a damaged winch cable/rope.
#7. Know the Limits of Your Tools
Every winch has a limited pulling capacity. Don’t exceed the pulling capacity of the winch. If you exceed the winch capacity, then it could cause the winch to fail or break the cable. Also, don’t exceed the rated safety capacity of the cable. Exceeding the limits of your tools can cause a number of serious accidents.
#8. Never Winch in Long Bursts
Winching for shorter periods will keep your winch and electronics from overheating. This will save your winch for future use. The winch pulls loads of power and can kill your vehicle’s battery quickly. So, never pull for a longer period.
Although your winch may have an automatic braking system in case of a power failure, it is in your best interest to not push its limits. Straining your machine adds more possibility of it breaking. A faster winching operation is not worth the risk of a seriously fatal injury.
#9. Stay Focused
Stay focused while winching. Fully concentrate on vehicle recovery. Even after winching is completed, accidents can still occur.
#10. Plan Ahead
Always go ahead with proper planning. Think about how you will successfully complete your recovery work. Think about the winch rope and ask yourself: Is the cable strong enough to support the winching operation. Can you complete your recovery job safely?
If not, then find out what else you will need to make it safe. After all, we all want to come back home safely after each off-roading trip. Make sure you have all essential off-road gears.
Summary of the Article
- Read and understand the operator’s manual of the winch.
- Practice using the winch again and again before you need to use it.
- Don’t Hurry! Take the time and plan carefully.
- Wear leather gloves while winching.
- Use proper recovery equipment.
- Inspect the winch cable for kinks or frays before use.
- Don’t exceed the rated pulling capacity of the winch.
- Never use winches to hoist, lifting or for moving personnel.
- Don’t use the rope as a tow rope and secure cargo on a vehicle.
- Do not plug the remote control cord into the control box until you are ready to use the remote.
- Calculate the load to be winched.
- Never winch for a longer period.
- Make sure the anchors are strong enough to hold the load and won’t be damaged.
- Recheck the shackles, clevis, and hook. Also, make sure they’re fastened securely.
- Ensure that the snatch blocks are tightly closed.
- Place a blanket or bag over the rope.
- Never stand in front of or beside a winch during operation.
Frequently Asked Questions?
How do I secure a load?
You can use straps and ratchets for secure points.
How can I increase my winch capacity?
Use a snatch block to increase your winch capacity.
What can I do when pulling heavy objects?
When pulling heavy objects, lay a heavy jacket or blanket over the winch rope.
That’s all about winching safety tips. You must follow these tips to stay safe while winching. If you’re planning to buy a winch then check our reviews of x-bull winches / warn pulzall vs drill winches/mile marker winches / Superwinch talon series winches/ badland winches/ smittybilt winches.
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