Bungee cords are used for a number of different purposes such as strapping loads to the back of a truck, holding together tool boxes around the office or house and being used as a barricade. Although many people trust their lives when using bungee cords for leisure activities like bungee jumping, there can be hazards associated with bungee cords when using them for everyday tasks.
The house-hold or office bungee cord is made up of elastic strands covered in nylon or cotton and has metal hooks on both ends. Other versions include the black rubber strap with hooks on both ends.
As bungee cords are stretched out they build tension. It is when the bungee cord releases this tension that there is a risk of injury. It is common for people to install bungee cords at eye level. If the tension is released the cord will backlash and has been known to hit the eye. The backlash from the bungee cord can be so powerful that it can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour. This amount of power can result in cuts to eyes, internal bleeding of the eye, traumatic cataracts and possibly detachment/tearing of the retina. Victims can experience mild to severe loss of vision and in most serious cases victims have had to have their eye removed.
Bungee cords release or break for numerous reasons. Most commonly the hook or cord will slip from the handler, the hook could bend or fall off the cord, the cord could break or the attachment point could fail.
The best way to avoid bungee cord injuries is to use other types of restraints when possible. This could include buckled or ratchet straps or industrial shrink-wrap. If it is necessary to use bungee cords, workers can protect themselves by wearing safety glasses.
Bungee cords should be inspected for any cracks, damage or defective parts.
Whenever bungee cords are in use workers should practice extreme caution and ensure that the hooks are secure, mind how far the bungee is being pulled, make sure that is not extended past its capabilities and keep their face and body away from the cords potential pathway. Bungee cords should not be used to secure surfaces that will react to wind or air movement.
If a worker in injured, the incident needs to be reported to their supervisor and the worker needs to be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.