Recovery Strap Safety Legislation

Just over two years ago and following a number of deaths caused by unsafe use of vehicle recovery equipment, the Federal Government issued a new standard for safe use of Recovery Straps. This legislation was introduced with a transition period of two years and it came into force on 1st January 2020. The reason for the transition period was to allow manufacturers and users time to transition and comply. This article describes the changes and it is now the responsibility of each of us using this equipment, to make sure we’re compliant.

What’s changed? Basically, it’s labelling of the straps to alert people using them of the inherent dangers. The straps have not changed, which leads to a number of challenges. If you are like me, you’ll have any number of perfectly good (and some not so good) straps at home or in the car. The temptation is to use these until they are no longer useable and they’ll probably work and give good service, just as they always have. What the new legislation may mean however is that if you use the older straps and there’s an accident where someone is injured or damage is caused to property or the environment, you may be found liable and that can lead to big trouble.

One other note is the legislation calls these straps “Recovery Straps” and not Snatch Straps and it applies only to what we once knew of as the venerable snatch strap. It doesn’t apply to winch extension straps or tree trunk protectors.

The legislation is known as:

Consumer Goods (Motor Vehicle recovery Straps) Safety Standard 2017

This is pursuant to section 104 of the Australian Consumer Law, which is Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

Some background:

Since 2003, six Australians have been killed when motor vehicle recovery straps have been used to recover a bogged vehicle. These deaths have occurred when a person has incorrectly attached the motor vehicle recovery strap to a non-prescribed part of a vehicle. As a result incorrect attachment points (such as a tow bar) have sheared from the vehicle and lethally struck either a vehicle occupant or bystander.

Requirements of the safety standard

This safety standard applies to motor vehicle recovery straps.

The safety standard has been updated to amend the warning label and user instructions to include pictograms, instructions for correct use and clearer statements about the hazards associated with incorrect use (see the diagram).

The safety standard includes the following definitions:

gross vehicle mass, for a motor vehicle, means the maximum loaded mass of the vehicle as stated:

(a)  on the compliance plate, registration certificate or build plate for the vehicle;

(b)  in the handbook for the vehicle; or

(c)  in documentation for the vehicle available from the vehicle’s manufacturer.

minimum breaking strength, for a motor vehicle recovery strap, means the minimum load necessary to cause the strap to fail.

motor vehicle recovery strap means a strap, commonly called a snatch strap, for attaching to a bogged vehicle to tow it clear of the bogged situation.

The required label

The legislation goes so far as to describe the label that is to be attached to the Recovery Strap. It is reproduced below. It includes a small diagram showing that using a tow ball is not correct. It goes on to describe what can’t be used and what should be used to attach the strap.


If you are unsure about using a Recovery Strap correctly, then it’s a good idea to do some training. Unfortunately the accredited units that covered this aspect of recovery of vehicles were dropped from the national syllabus last year but most good training organisations who conduct four-wheel drive training will have part of their training that covers this. The Australian Recreational Motorists Association (ARMA) can organise training that is both accredited and non-accredited and covers the safe use of recovery Straps. Check out the ARMA website for more details

Garry Doyle
Australian Recreational Motorists Association (ARMA)