How Many Strands Does A Wire Rope Need To Be Broken?

I recently got my overhead certification, and the business that sent me on the training course said they would also send me for a course on rigging and slinging. I believe that this is the course where I will learn about different slings and how to use them with the crane. I hope that my instructor will be able to tell me how many strands does a wire rope need to be broken?

OSHA states in standard 1926.1413 the requirements for wire ropes during inspections. The standards stipulate in part (a)(2)(ii)(A)(1) that when a wire rope has six random broken wires in one rope lay or three broken wires in one strand of one lay, then the wire rope needs to be replaced.

I decided to speak to some of the experienced operators and riggers that work at my company. I am looking forward to sharing their expertise with you. Follow this article to see what the experts have to say about how many broken strands of wire a wire rope can have before it can be broken. We will also look at what health and safety legislation say.

How Many Strands Of Wire Can Be Broken On A Wire Rope?

The Occupational safety and health administration gives clear indications in their standards to ensure that employers give their workers training so that the organization uses safe lifting equipment with safe cranes. Wire ropes, like any other lifting equipment, need to be replaced when they are no longer fit for use. Six wires broken randomly in one rope lay are cause for replacement.

Meaning Of Six Random Broken Wires In One Rope Lay

Standard number 1926.1413 from the Occupational safety and health administration requires that competent and trained personnel inspect lifting gear and specifically mentions that wire rope needs to be removed from service if there are six broken wires in random places in one rope lay. In the section below, we will look at what exactly a strand and a rope lay are.

A strand of wire refers to the bundles of single wires arranged around a wire rope’s inner core. Each strand of wire is a collection of single wires in one bunch, and there can be multiple bunches or strands of wire that can be arranged around the inner part of the wire rope. It means that the standard refers to the entire length of rope.

The entire wire rope, or the rope lay as it is also referred to, needs to be inspected for broken wires, and if there are six random places where the individual ropes are broken, then the wire rope needs to be removed from service. The personnel that inspects a wire rope needs to give specific attention to what exactly the OSHA standard means by wires, strands, and a rope lay.

The Meaning Of Three Broken Wires In One Strand Of One Lay

The second piece of the OSHA standard 1924.1413 says in section (a)(2)(ii)(A)(1) that if a trained and competent individual notices three broken wires in one strand of the wire rope lay then the wire rope needs to be removed from service, in most cases, this will mean that it will need to be replaced or fixed.

If we look deeper into what exactly this part of the standard says, we will realize that when three or more individual wires are broken in one strand (bundle of arranged single wires), the wire rope needs to be removed from service immediately. Wire ropes can have different numbers of individual wires in one strand and multiple strands in one layer of wire rope.

Wire ropes are manufactured from individual wires that are arranged together in bundles; we have seen that these bundles are called strands. The wire strands are then arranged around the inner part of the core strands in different arrangements. Not all wire ropes are made with the same arrangement, which is why the inspections need to be done by a competent person. 

Inspection Criteria For Wire Ropes And Broken Strands

It is clear from the other sections of this post and the health and safety legislation that inspections of lifting equipment and, in particular, wire ropes are a mandatory requirement for any organization that uses lifting equipment.

The inspections need to be done visually by a person that has been trained and is competent. It is a very good idea to record the findings on an inspection sheet to prove that the inspection was done according to the requirements.

The inspection sheets need to be compiled in line with the requirements of the manufacturer and the standards organization to ensure that compliance is achieved in line with the standards from OSHA. The end-user of any lifting equipment should have access to data from the manufacturer, the ANSI standards, and the OSHA standards.

Wire rope is used for cranes as well as slings, and in both applications, there are also periodic inspections that need to be conducted by professionals, and this is to ensure that the person that does the visual inspections does not miss any of the safety components when the visual inspections are done.

There are, of course, other components that need to be inspected on a wire rope as well, like the amount of wear that the rope has, or corrosion that may be present on the rope, and even if the wire rope is twisted or kinked. As the topic concerns broken strands on a wire rope, we need to understand that these factors can also lead to the wires being broken.


The standards from the Occupational safety and health administration are very clear regarding the number of single wires and the number of wires in a strand that needs to be broken before the wire rope is replaced. It can be seen in standard number 1924.1413. Pre-use inspections are visual inspections that need to be done by trained personnel.

The periodic inspection also needs to be done by professionals to ensure that the trained personnel do not miss any of the criteria that could cause the wire rope to be unsafe. I enjoyed writing about how many strands of a wire rope need to be broken, and I hope that the information was helpful to the reader.


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