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6 Key Safety Considerations for Working With Truck Winches

Truck Winches
A truck winch is an incredibly useful tool for getting a vehicle out of a tight spot, but it can also pose a threat to life, limb, and property if mishandled. The powerful torque produced by a winch motor can easily tear apart metal, much less flesh and bone.

That's why you should take time to educate yourself regarding safe winch operation and stay out of trouble. Below are six key safety considerations to keep in mind when using your truck winch.

1. Wear Gloves When Handling Cable or Rope

One fundamental safety rule when operating a winch is to always wear sturdy gloves, preferably those made from tough leather. Barehanding a wire winch cable could cause a serious injury, as even a single frayed wire could deeply slice into your hand or fingers. While ropes are less likely to cut you, they can still cause painful friction injuries (rope burn) on your hands.

2. Use a Winch Line Damper

When a winch line is stretched, it stores a tremendous amount of potential energy that can be unleashed with devastating force should the line break. A lashing line could easily kill or severely injure anyone in the path of its deadly whip.

As such, you should always place some type of damper on the winch line to prevent a potentially deadly lashing event. Dedicated dampers are available for purchase, but a heavy blanket, coat or other large cloth items can also serve to dampen lines.

3. Use Proper Recovery Equipment

When using a winch to recover a vehicle, it is important to be prepared with the proper equipment. For example, recovery equipment includes items such as D-shackles and treesavers.

These items allow you to perform the work correctly without hurting anyone or doing damage. Don't skimp on this type of essential equipment, as a failure to use the right tools for the job can prove destructive and maybe even deadly.

4. Keep Fingers Away from the Fairlead

The fairlead is the area where cable or rope is spooled onto the drum. In many cases, fairleads consist of paired rollers that aid in spooling lines back onto the drum. However, some fairleads are nothing more than smoothened guides that reduce friction on the line as it is respooled.

Regardless of how the fairlead is constructed, it is important to remember that your fingers are vulnerable to being pulled into the area between the fairlead and line. Your hands should never approach closer than about an arm's length to the fairlead during winch usage.

5. Respool Your Line Under Tension

When you rewind the cable or rope onto the winch drum, be sure it is under tension. Allowing a loose line to rewind onto the drum can result in damage to the winch or the line itself. That damage could result in the winch or line failing the next time it is used, which may cause you or someone else to be injured in the process.

6. Read the Winch Documentation Carefully

Another important safety step to take before using your winch is to read the operator's manual provided by the manufacturer. While reading manuals can be dry or downright boring at times, it is still necessary to prevent you from making mistakes during operation. Regardless of intent, mishandling a winch out of ignorance can harm you just the same as if you intentionally mishandled it.

If you have questions about the safe use of your truck winch, be sure to contact Leer Truck Accessory Center for assistance. Our team of professionals can help you with all of your winch-related questions and provide guidance that will enable you to safely use your equipment.