Take care when using motor vehicle recovery straps

Published: 
15 Apr 2011

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding Queensland consumers about the potential dangers of “recovery’’ straps that are used to free bogged or immobilised vehicles.

Queensland OFT Executive Director Brian Bauer said it was common for families to take advantage of their 4WD over the Easter holidays.

“But it is very easy for your family holiday to become a tragedy if these recovery straps, also known as ‘snatch’ straps, are not used appropriately or for what they are intended,” he said.

“Motor vehicle recovery straps are attached between two vehicles so the immobilised or bogged vehicle can be pulled free.

“Off-road enthusiasts should only use recovery straps designed for the purpose and not other forms of inappropriate attachment, such as rope.

“However, the straps should be used strictly in accordance with the instructions,” Mr Bauer said.

“Straps are supplied in different lengths and load bearing capacities and stretch with the momentum of the pulling vehicle and release built-up tension to dislodge bogged vehicles.

“But people have been killed or seriously injured when these straps have broken or when components on vehicles have ripped off and struck the person with great force.

“This has happened mainly because people have unknowingly used the wrong capacity strap or misused the straps by attaching them to parts of vehicles that are not engineered to withstand the tremendous forces involved.”

Mr Bauer said Queensland’s mandatory safety standards required motor vehicle recovery straps to be marked with key product information and safety warnings.

He said on 1 January 2011, all states and territories introduced mandatory safety standards relating to recovery or snatch straps, which had already been in place in Queensland since 2008.

He said anyone using motor vehicle recovery straps should follow these safety tips closely:

  • do not use the strap for lifting or conventional towing
  • ensure the strap’s stated breaking strength is appropriate for the gross vehicle mass (GVM), including load weight, of the individual vehicle being recovered (the minimum breaking
    strength of the strap should be between two and three times the vehicle’s GVM)
  • ensure the strap is suited to the GVM rating of the lighter vehicle in the recovery
  • only attach a strap to a suitable rated vehicle recovery point or device.
  • never attach the strap to a standard tow-bar, tow-ball or standard vehicle tie-down point (they are not designed for this purpose and may result in the strap or a vehicle component
    detaching and striking a person)
  • ensure the strap is undamaged and in a usable condition
  • drape something like a heavy bag or blanket over the strap during use to reduce any unintentional rebound of the strap
  • ensure that any people outside the vehicles stand far enough from the vehicles - at least 1.5 times the non-stretched length of the strap. They must never stand in the line of recovery
  • always read and obey the product’s instructions and warnings.

“By following these tips, Queenslanders can ensure they stay safe while out enjoying our State’s great outdoors over the upcoming Easter long weekend,’’ Mr Bauer said.

Contact details

Media inquiries

Media contact: Alisa Cusack (07) 3247 5965

General inquiries

Queensland Office of Fair Trading 13 74 68

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