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A Guide to Wire Rope Sling Eyes: Flemish vs. Turnback vs. Hand-Spliced

As an industry professional responsible for procurement, operations, or worker safety, understanding the different types of wire rope sling eyes is crucial for ensuring safe and efficient lifting operations. In this video, we’ll dive into the key differences between Flemish, turnback, and hand-tucked sling eye configurations, exploring their unique applications, benefits, and potential risks for wire rope slings.

Terry Driscoll, a seasoned expert with 28 years of experience in the lifting and rigging industry, offers a comprehensive breakdown of these wire rope sling eye configurations. Whether you’re an EHS specialist, quality manager, purchasing agent, or operations leader, you’ll gain valuable knowledge to help you make informed decisions and keep your team protected.

Key Topics Covered:

  • The Flemish Eye: Discover the advantages of the mechanical splice design that makes it the most widely used sling eye in the United States.
  • Turnback / Foldback Eyes: Explore the speed and simplicity of this sling eye type, as well as the importance of a proper inspection to avoid potential catastrophic failure.
  • Hand-Tucked / Hand Spliced Slings: Learn why ironworkers still commonly utilize this traditional sling eye configuration and how it allows for easier extraction from underneath loads.
  • Sling Eye Construction and its Impact: Understand how the design of each sling eye type influences factors like capacity, safety, and ease of use.
  • Inspection Considerations: Gain insights on the critical pre-use inspection steps to ensure the safety and reliability of your wire rope slings.

This video guide will give you a complete understanding of the key differences between Flemish, turnback, and hand-spliced sling eyes, empowering you to make informed decisions that prioritize workplace safety, operational efficiency, and procurement value for your lifting operations.

Explore our additional resources on lifting slings, including our free sling inspection e-book, a comprehensive sling inspection course, and direct access to our experts when you contact our lifting and rigging division.



– I’ve got two slings here with four different eyes. Now, these are just for display purposes only, but we want to know what’s the difference? We are going to sit down with AWRF board member and Mazzella Regional Sales Manager, Terry Driscoll, to find out.

– Hi, my name’s Terry Driscoll, and I’ve been in the lifting and rigging industry for the past 28 years.

What are the different types of wire rope sling eyes?

If you take a look at this, we actually have an old hand splice taper and conceal eye. You have a very old school burn off-style eye, so again, it has a similar look to the taper and conceal. They just didn’t finish off the concealing aspect of it, and instead burnt off the ends. Then of course, we have a turn back or fold back-style eye, and what you see the majority of the time out in the field, which would be a mechanical splice Flemish eye.

How are hand-sliced wire rope slings made and used?

There’s a different process on how you’re making the eyes, again, the burn off is similar to the taper and conceal, but what you’re actually doing is opening up the strands or the actual wire rope itself, to reveal different strands that are being tucked and tapered and concealed into the body of the sling to make them disappear. A sling like this is traditionally being utilized by a lot of iron workers. Iron workers would tend to utilize a hand splice-style sling because you don’t have a carbon steel sleeve that can get in the way of the sling coming out from underneath a load. So, if you’re in the choke configuration and once you release that sling, you can pull that sling below the actual load. If we had a carbon steel sleeve involved, then it might have a tendency to get hung up.

How are Flemish eye wire rope slings made and used?

The majority of the slings that you would see out on a job site are going to tend to be the Flemish eye mechanical splice finish with this carbon steel sleeve and the process, of course, similar to what the hand splice would entail, we’re actually opening up the individual strands away from the wire and away from the core, feeding them back into themselves, and then we would put the carbon steel sleeve in place. We would put it into a swager that would actually, a hydraulic press, so to speak, and it would swage that into place, depending on what size sling that you’re dealing with, whether it’s going to be a small quarter inch or as large as three-inch plus. That, of course, is going to give you your design factor with five to one built into it.

How are turnback eye wire rope slings made?

On the other end, we happen to have a turn back or a fold back eye. The big difference with this, of course, is speed, the time it’s going to take you to actually make these two. The fold back, of course, it’s as simple as just folding back the wire rope on itself, inserting either a stainless or an aluminum-style sleeve, duplex-style sleeve, and then putting that into the swager and crimping it down.

What are the hazards of turnback eye wire rope slings?

What would happen, of course, is that you can still achieve a five to one design factor, but the largest issue is if you’re not doing a proper inspection on this style of sleeve, it may have a tendency to crack or to wear, if not done properly. Maybe you’re dropping large hardware on it out on the job site, and if that actual sleeve fails, now you actually have a catastrophic failure, to where it’s just going to release the load, compared to a Flemish sling. And the Flemish sling itself, of course, if we had an issue with that carbon steel sleeve and it wasn’t properly inspected before it went out onto a job and if there was any type of failure, the Flemish, itself, is still able to achieve working load limit, not that it should be used in that manner whatsoever. A proper inspection before every use is a must.

What are the hazards of burn-off hand-tucked wire rope slings?

If you’re an iron worker, again, I would not recommend utilizing any of the old burn offs nowadays, just because of the hazard that’s associated with it, but a hand splice sling is still commonly used to this day and it works fantastic in the right application.

Turnback vs. Flemish vs. Hand-Spliced wire rope slings

If you’re looking at a mechanical splice and / or a turnback, you’ll actually see these quite a bit in Europe. You’ll see them coming from various assemblies, going to power plants coming in from Japan. If they are done properly, and they are proof tested prior to use, there’s no issue with it, but you do have to be concerned if you’re not doing a proper inspection beforehand.

Mechanical splice, again, this is what’s more widely used throughout the United States at this time. There are, of course, different types of end fittings that people can put onto these types of slings. Traditionally, you’re not going to be seeing any type of turn back or fold back eye out in the field, unless, of course, it is specific from the OEM with equipment that’s specific to the job.

The hand splice slings can still be utilized in the field, just taking into consideration, they will have less capacity than a traditional mechanical splice sling, based on the fact they’re made with fiber core rope versus the IWRC, or Independent Wire Rope Core.

What are some best practices when using wire rope slings?

When using wire rope slings out in the field, again, you want to make sure that you have, number one, the right sling for the job. You understand what the load of the item that’s about to be lifted. You understand what the capability, or capacity, working load limit of your wire rope sling. You want to do a pre-check inspection before use, and we’re looking first and foremost for a tag. Do I have a proper tag that’s going to match the load that I’m about to lift? Performing a visual inspection, do I have any type of issues, any type of deformation? Do I have any kink, severe bends? Do I have weld splatter on this wire rope sling? Is there a loss of diameter based off of a dog leg? Do I have any broken wires right below that carbon steel sleeve? And if so, that sling of course, is not to be used and should be replaced immediately. Cut it up on the job, get it into a dumpster. Just make sure no one’s going home with it.

Learn how to inspect all types of lifting slings!

– One thing to keep in mind is that all of these slings and their eyes meet the standards of ASME B30.9 Slings. You might want to just put a little extra emphasis on your inspections when using fold back eyes. You want to inspect all of your slings as part of a frequent inspection pre-shift, or more often, anytime you use them. If you want to learn how to inspect your slings, you can download our free ebook or take our sling inspection course linked in the description below. If you found this video useful, informative, entertaining, or you just feel like being friendly, then hit that like button so we can get this information out to anyone who needs it. Subscribe and hit the bell so you never miss a video. If you have a question, drop it in the comments so we can get you an answer. Remember, safe rigging is smart rigging. My name’s Ben, stay safe out there.

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In this video

0:00 – Intro

0:29 – What are the different types of wire rope sling eyes?

0:57 – How are hand-tucked wire rope slings made and used?

1:46 – How are Flemish eye wire rope slings made and used?

2:29 – How are turnback eye wire rope slings made?

2:56 – What are the hazards of turnback eye wire rope slings?

3:45 – What are the hazards of burn-off hand-tucked wire rope slings?

4:00 – Turnback vs. Flemish vs. Hand-Spliced wire rope slings

4:58 – What are some best practices when using wire rope slings?

5:48 – Learn how to inspect all types of lifting slings!

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Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.