Practical tip: Regular testing of lifting bags

They can provide indispensable services in traffic accidents, forestry accidents, rock falls or in collapsed buildings: Lifting bags. The inflatable rubber bellows are small, relatively easy to handle, and develop an enormous lifting capacity. In order to ensure their full functionality, they should undergo regular examination.


Lifting bags are generally very resistant: The S-Tec Lifting Bags of the German manufacturer Vetter are made of aramid-reinforced rubber, which is designed for the toughest jobs. Nevertheless, mechanical (from sharp objects) or chemical (i.e., acids, alkalis or fuels) damage can arise. Therefore, the equipment servicer should perform a detailed visual check upon the lifting bag after each use, or at least once a year. If any cracks or holes come to light, the lifting bag needs to be replaced.

Professional examination every five years

To guarantee full functionality, it is recommended that lifting bags are checked every five years by the manufacturer. The procedure at Vetter is strictly according to protocol: After a thorough visual check, pressure reducers, hoses, and the inceptor are checked for leakage. Subsequently, the lifting bags are filled in a water pressure test to 1.3 times the working pressure. No water is allowed to escape. Regular verification by the manufacturer is not only recommended to ensure full functionality, but also to safeguard the fire department from liability in the event of injury: an official test report is issued after every examination.

Retirement after 15 years

As with all products made of rubber (for example, car tires), lifting bags also have a limited shelf life. The mixture of elastomers, aramid and plasticizers loses its elasticity over the years and becomes brittle. The manufacturer recommends replacing their lifting bags after 15 years.

Lifting Bags: The new generation lifts 50% more

The lifting bags of the latest generation produce enormous power in a small package. The S-Tec Lifting Bags from Vetter are now operated with 12 bar and can lift up to 102 t, depending on the model. By raising the pressure from eight to twelve bar, a 50% increase in performance has been achieved compared to older models. With only a 2.5 cm shelf height, lifting bags can also be placed in very narrow gaps and openings. Inflation only requires a compressed air bottle, a pressure reducer, and an inceptor. Of course, it is also possible to inflate the lifting bags using a vehicle compressor or a stationary compressed air network. Attention: No oil-based lubricants can be used with this equipment. Oils can react with rubber and reduce the service life of the lifting bag.