Safely Extract Stuck Equipment
GET RID OF CLEVISES
click image to zoomNew recovery straps come packaged without any hook-up hardware. The recovery strap comes without hardware attached. A bolted/screw shackle needs to be used with a recovery strap—not a hook or a clevis and pin.
“I’m telling you that you’ve got to get rid of clevises; they are people killers. They pull apart,” Whitford stressed.
A shackle has a screw-in bolt instead of a hitch pin and a cotter pin for securing the clevis. Shackles do not spread apart under the pull of weight. It is likely that the shackle will drastically bend and the screw bolt not come out. In contrast, a heavy-duty clevis will bend, and both the clevis and pin go flying into the air. The shackle is just as strong when the recovery strap pulls on the screw bolt as the round part of the shackle.
As for attachment of the recovery strap to vehicles and equipment, finding the proper attachment point can be tricky. Attaching to a towing ball or trailer hitch is probably not going to work because such setups are commonly not rated for more than 3,500 pounds of force.
Keeping the recovery strap away from a sharp edge that might cut it has to be considered, too.
The objective for safety is to keep something from breaking. “If something breaks, how am I going to keep things from flying into the windshield?” Whitford asked the crowd.
His answer to stop a strap from flying upward if it would break, which several in the audience were already aware of, is to place a weight over the recovery strap. Some ideas of weights are to thread the strap through an old tire or through a large heavy pipe or laying a piece of carpet over the strap.
“I’m going to put whatever weight I can in the middle, and the purpose of going to that trouble is because if something breaks, instead of it shooting up, the weight is going to make it shoot down and keep it out of a windshield,” Whitford said.
Avoiding a strap or broken pieces flying through a windshield can further be improved by doing things such as raising the lid of a toolbox at the front of the pickup bed or raising the hood of vehicles involved in the extraction, even though the hoods will restrict vision. Putting obstructions between the pulling tools and vehicles’ drivers is important.
Flying pieces are also a concern for any spectators or coworkers, and they must be out of the area completely, even if the strap has been weighted down. “Do not rely on luck; take every precaution,” Whitford said.
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