Safe Working Load (SWL) sometimes stated as the Normal Working Load (NWL) is the maximum safe force that a piece of lifting equipment, lifting device or accessory can exert to lift, suspend, or lower a given mass without fear of breaking.
In simple terms, safe working load of any lifting equipment or lifting accessories is the maximum weight of a load it can carry at any given time.
In Health and Safety, it is expected that all manufacturers of a lifting equipment and lifting accessories should specify the safe working load of that equipment/accessory to prevent overload. Overload of an equipment can result to accidental release of the load which could cause serious injury or death.
To ensure safe lifting, risk assessment must be carried out for all lifting exercises. One of the things to consider during the risk assessment is the lifting machinery, lifting accessories and the load.
This consideration will guide on the choice of the best lifting machinery and accessories for a successful completion of the task.
Any machinery that do not have its safe working load conspicuously stamped on the body of the equipment should not be used for lifting based on assumption.
If need arise to make use of the equipment, the manufacturer of the lifting equipment or the lifting accessories should be contacted in order to ascertain the capacity of the equipment or accessories before use.