The greatest potential hazard
faced by the winch operator or crew is the very fact that such operations
take place under some pressure. The vehicle is stuck; ground and possibly
weather conditions are not the most favourable, thereby compromising
concentration. A definite procedure must be followed to maintain safety
All rigging should be checked thoroughly.
Ensure that all fittings are of the correct
capacity and all shackles and hooks are secure.
Protect the wire rope itself from any damage
once its line – pull has been established by rigging.
If the wire rope is likely to chafe over the
ground (when the vehicle is being pulled up and over a ridge – place logs
beneath it, remove any rocks it could be dragged over and, if required,
clear its path with a shovel.
Ensure that you (and anyone assisting) wear
thick leather gloves at all times and never handle the wire rope without
Check the rope itself for any damage along its
length and ensure it will not foul once under tension.
satisfied with the rigging, inspect the path over which the vehicle will be
Ensure that there are no rocks or
other obstacles which could seriously increase the loading on the winch, or
that the vehicle will be winched into a terrain which is unsuitable.
Make sure that you are not the
operator who winches a vehicle onto a side slope which exceeds its limits,
or the operator who hauls it over rocks and tree stumps to the detriment of
its bodywork or suspension components.
Next check the winch itself and
ensure that there are at least five (5) wraps of wire rope around the
drum. Failure to do this could result in the rope being pulled from its
rfixture, possible under load, with disastrous consequences.
Check the winch control unit and
particularly its electrical cables. If this cable is badly kinked or
damaged, it could result in a short circuit immediately upon plugging the
control lead into the winch. This short circuit could operate the winch
unexpectedly with disastrous consequences for operator and assistant.
Ensure that the winch is securely
attached to the vehicle and the towing bracket on the stuck vehicle is
secure and off sufficient strength to take the strain when being towed. The
vehicle stuck in the mud may only weigh one to one and a half tons, but the
suction action of the mud can easily double or treble this weight.
If the vehicle to be towed does
not having a towing bracket, attach the hook to the chassis.
From the time the winch cable has
been secured it must be considered to be “live”. From this point nobody
should be allowed to step over the cable.
Wrap a safety strap/rope or place
a wet sack or other such item around the cable nearest the hook as a safety
precaution in the event that the cable should snap or break away from the
If you are winching from inside
the vehicle, raise the bonnet and squint through the top corner of the
windscreen. This could prevent you from having your head taken off if the
wire rope or towing bracket should snap or come adrift.
pass the remote control wire through the open driver’s window if winching
from the driver’s seat.
Never trap the cable in the door
and always have all the slack control cable at the switch unit end in the
cab. Should slack control cable become snagged in the winch drum, it will
invariably lead to a short circuit, again making the winch impossible to
stop by use of the normal control unit alone.
Take up the slack, check your
rigging and make sure that everybody stays at least a cable’s length away
from the vehicle.
Keep the engine running at all
times – a winching operation can run your battery flat in minutes.
The vehicle being winched out –
even if it is winching itself out – can assist by engaged low range, second
gear. Release the clutch slowly and avoid spinning the wheels.
Avoid driving over the cable.
the vehicle is free, wind in the winch cable and immediately disconnect
the winch controls.
- If you need to
use a tree as an anchor point, use a tree strap and secure it as low down on
the trunk as possible. A cable secured directly onto the tree causes
unnecessary damage and by securing it as low down as possible will give you
a more secure anchor and avoid strain on the tree.
- If your efforts
result in a gulley being formed, hunt around for a few stones to fill this
to avoid a donga from forming when it rains.
NB When fitting a towing bracket, it is far safer to go for
overkill than to skimp and save on time, equipment and money – by skimping
you could endanger your own and other peoples’ lives and possibly lose your
vehicle into the bargain.
Last Modified :