Can you use any sling with your hoist? Yes, provided …
Research Summary: Use of Compliant Slings With Any Compatible Hoist System
The following research summary is provided by CHS Healthcare for information purposes only for each facility to determine their own processes and procedures regarding the matter of whether care facilities can use slings by any manufacturer on an alternative manufacturer’s hoist system, provided the sling type is designed for the type of hoist in use.
This research summary was created due to the level of confusion and opposing opinions on the subject. CHS presents this document in an effort to support the entire healthcare industry and its carers.
Point of Research for Consideration:
We have had many discussions over the years with clients and manufacturers about this question, as it is always of legitimate concern for carers. It is entirely a matter of proper care and what practise ensures that care is applied safely and effectively. Unfortunately, the question of sling compatibility has also been taken advantage of by some manufacturers in order to enforce sling sales on clients. Slings vary greatly in price from one manufacturer to another, and often identical slings with different branding can attract wildly different pricing.
In 2013 there was a meeting is the US involving the majority of hoist manufacturers, conducted by AASPHM (American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement).
An indication of the AASPHM viewpoints and discussions from a global professional attendee base are as follows:
- In attendance were Arjo Huntleigh, Etac, Guldmann, Human Care, Invacare, Hill-Rom, Molift, Pernova, RoMedic, and others
- Manufacturers in attendance accepted there is no health or safety related basis on which they can force clients to use their branded slings, and that is acceptable to use another manufacturer’s sling provided the slings is inspected and staff are trained properly
- Enforcement is, in some ways, not possible; some hoist manufacturers do not make slings, and some sling manufacturers do not make hoists
- Slings and hoists have different warranties and conditions of use so consistency is not possible to form a standard
- In the USA, FDA only regulates hoists, not hoists and slings
- The Medsun report conducted revealed 0 (zero) known incidents relating to sling compatibility – accidents and failures resulted from misuse, sling placement, staff training and risk assessment processes rather than mixed and matching slings
- It is ultimately the choice of the manufacturer to dictate to the client if they want to restrict the client to their own brand of slings, but it is not law
- In Europe, slings are treated as completely separate from hoists/lifts
- In the UK, slings and lifts can be mixed and matched
- The CE-approval process would likely contradict its own product and safety standards if it allowed manufacturer-chosen combined products
CHS takes the position that safety is the number 1 priority, and as such we supply many brands of slings to meet the needs of our clients. Subsequently, we endorse the safest and most appropriate slings at all times and have historically investigated this matter with our suppliers and manufacturers.
The above information can perhaps be best rationalised by an overview given to CHS, by one of the only manufacturers who replied to us; the following advice was given (in summary):
- There can be no implication to warranty on any piece of equipment used in conjunction with another manufacturer’s equipment provided that the equipment is used correctly
- Some floor and ceiling lift manufacturers advise customers to only use their slings, however slings may be used in conjunction with any lifts that utilize a loop-based carry bar design, as long as the sling is assessed for use by professional and qualified personnel prior to use, ensuring the following:
- The distance from carry bar to the sling is appropriate;
- The client should have multiple inclination options; and,
- The carry bar of the lift should not constrict the client, nor should it be excessively wide.
- Other points of consideration when using any lifting device should include:
- Ensuring staff are effectively trained in identifying the differences in the weight capacities between the slings and the lifting equipment;
- Educating staff on the different colour coding regimes used by different manufacturers (if any); and,
- Providing detailed sling inspection and laundering instructions to staff in order to maintain function and form of all slings.
CHS Healthcare has had many discussions on this topic from colleagues and authorities from around the world. From our discussions we understand that, several years ago in the UK, there was a challenge by a manufacturer in the courts in an attempt to enforce their brand of slings be used exclusively on their hoists after a sling and hoist manufacturer attempted to enforce their brand of sling be used with their brand of hoists. The case is understood to be unsuccessful and was anecdotal, ‘thrown out of court’ and dismissed.
The following analogy can be applied: a car manufacturer attempting to force owners of their make and model of car to have to use the manufacturer (or approved) brand of tyre, based on the premise that the use of those tyres is to ensure safety for those travelling in the vehicle.
All evidence supports this practice as unacceptable. Slings are manufactured to standards. Hoists are manufactured to standards. Provided the use of slings and hoists are based on proper training, appropriate use, proper education, managed operation, OH&S regulations and ISO standards, then sharing the appropriate slings (such as loop slings) between hoists is a safe and compliant practise.
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