In June this year the Institute of Vehicle Recovery (IVR) was contacted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding the use of screw in towing eyes in vehicle recovery.
A meeting was arranged between the IVR and HSE to discuss the issue. The IVR has always recommended that towing eyes are not used, either in light recovery or heavy. They do not have a safe working load stamped on them and cannot be regarded as reliable.
However, some manufacturer’s recommendations state that you MUST use their tow eyes and some recovery scenarios can only be carried out by using the towing eye to avoid damage to the casualty vehicle.
The HSE already understood that this was the case and made a suggestion that if and when towing eyes were used to winch from, that they be discarded. This, of course, would be a very costly approach for recovery operators if they had to pay for a new towing eye each time it was used!
The IVR already recommend that secondary restraints are used when using towing eyes and has developed, in conjunction with RED and JAB Engineering, a ‘safety strap’ for LGV eyes that is currently being tested. It will be available shortly.
The HSE stated:
Due to the nature of the industry and unpredictably of the sites it was considered both foreseeable and inevitable that the manufacturer’s guidelines were liable to be exceeded. In the light of a general lack of alternative options a proposal of using a secondary strop which would act as a failsafe in the event of the connection point breaking was put forward by the IVR. When taken in to consideration of the expected management of the scenario i.e. observers kept at a safe distance, this was considered a reasonably practicable option. The IVR are now looking into introducing this as part of their training package.
The IVR continues to advise that towing eyes should not be considered reliable and that, whenever using any towing eye in a winching application, a secondary safety attachment is used and people kept at a safe distance.
The IVR continually consults with the HSE , along with other government bodies, on your behalf and has regular dialogue on many subjects. The Institute will continue to research and develop its procedures to ensure a safer working environment for us all.