Dee Shackles and Safety Chains

Couplemate discusses Myths and facts abound around the campfire about shackles and safety chain connections. Below are a few facts with references and a few myths from the campfire.

  • Dee or Bow shackles must be compatible with a rated chain. Therefore it must be stamped with a rating. You may be called to prove the Dee Shackle is compatible with the safety chain. How do you do that?  (CI-119C, Page 2, para 3).
  • Each Chain must be sized such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ATM. (VSB1 Page 27, para 4).
  • Every 4 links of safety chain must be stamped. (CI-119C, Page 1, para 8).
  • The Break Load Limit of the shackle must be 1.5t greater than the ATM. (CI-119C, Page 3).
  • Existing unstamped safety chain need not be replaced on older trailers. (CI-119C, Page 3).


Can I use a hammerlock or another dee shackle to extend my safety chain? 

Answer: Hammerlocks can be used to extend the safety chain. Only one dee shackle per safety chain is allowed.

Comments: Shackles or dee shackles not stamped, are not compatible with the chain.

I had a few comments questioning the legality of rated safety shackles being a requirement under the law.

ADR 62/02 For trailers over 3.5 tonnes ‘ATM’, the chain must be made from steel of a minimum 800 MPa breaking stress, conform to the mechanical properties of Grade T chain. Specified in Australian Standard AS 2321 – 2001 Short Link Chain for Lifting Purposes and must be of a size such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ‘ATM’.

The last six words in this clause require Rated or Stamped Dee Shackles. You must be able to prove your chain complies with your rated ATM.

safety chain holderStill, have not seen a traffic ticket for non-rated shackles. I believe tickets are not being issued at the moment.

Safety Chain Attachments for Aluminium Trailers

Safety chain can be legally attached to an aluminum trailer chassis via Couplemate safety chain holders.

The legal requirement is for the chain holder to be welded. The plate holding the safety chain holder is then bolted to the chassis rail.

Previously, the chain was attached via a bolt passing through the chassis rail and safety chain co-jointly.


Send me a copy of your ticket for non-compliant dee shackles, and I will pay it. Offer open to 1 ticket only.

How to select the correct size dee shackle – read this link.

Statement: You only need one safety chain attachment points for trailers up to 2.5t. Over 2.5t, two safety chains must be used.
Fact: This is true

Statement: You need “coloured pin,” i.e. yellow or red, rated shackle to comply with various state rules.

Fact: Myth, Trailer safety chains must be rated at or above the ATM of the trailer.

Shackles must be marked or stamped with dee shackles that must be rated to the appropriate capacity of the chain.

Both the chain and shackle must be stamped with a rating. Shackles need not be coloured.

Statement: Chains can be welded in any position on the drawbar.
Fact: Myth, Drawbar safety chain attachment points should not come into contact with the road surface. When the trailer is disconnected or detached from the vehicle.

Statement: Rated Dee shackles can be used on trailers up to 4.5t.
Fact: Myth, Dee shackles or Bow Shackles are used to attach the safety chain to chain holders.

Alternatively, ½ of the chain link can be welded to the trailer chassis up to 3.5t provided the mounting position does not cause the chain to come in contact with the ground when disconnected or detached.

Trailers over 3.5t must use chain holders with Grade 80 safety chain attached.

Download the safety chain rules.

Click here to download the Information sheet from VSB1 Department of Transport Canberra

Key Points for chain attachment.

  • Up to 2.5t trailers and caravans require one rated safety chain that can be welded or fixed to a chassis rail by an approved and rated hammerlock or similar device.
  • 2.5t up to 3.5t trailers and caravans must have two safety chains that can be welded or fixed to a chassis rail by an approved and rated hammerlock or similar device.
  • 3.5t to 7.2t safety chains must be Grade 80 and attached to the trailer and towbar using a high tensile 4140 pin.

Important notes:

  • One safety chain attachment point required on a trailer up to 2.5t – VSB1.
  • Two Chains required on a trailer over 2.5t – VSB1.
  • Galvanised Chain is illegal over 3.5t.
  • The safety chains must be crossed under the tow bar receiver when attached to the tow bar.
  • Each chain must be sized such that the minimum breaking load exceeds the ATM.
  • Working load is stamped on the chain or shackle. – VsB1.
  • Breaking load is six-times working load. – WA CI119C.
  • Drawbar safety chain attachments should not come into contact with the road surface when the trailer is disconnected. – VSB1.
  • Chains must be permanently attached to the trailer; shackles are not permitted for trailers over 3.5t. QLD AIS 12(a).
  • Rated Shackles approved as tow bar attachments over 3.5t, provided breaking load 1.5 times ATM – WA CI119C.
  • Rated Shackles are illegal to be used as attachments on trailers over 3.5t – WA CI119C.
  • Stainless Steel Shackles are not permitted – WA CI119C.
  • Safety chain attachment points of both the trailer and tow vehicle must be as near as possible to the coupling. QLD AIS 12(a).
  • Herc-Alloy 800 is the required chain for all trailers over 3.5t. (usually a coloured chain) QLD AIS 12(a).

Safety Chain attachment points – QLD AIS 12(a)

Each chain attachment point must be capable of withstanding the following minimum forces without incurring either residual deformation that would interfere or degrade the function of the assembly, or any breaks, cracks or separation of components:

Longitudinal tension and compression (N) 1.5 x 9.81 x ATM (in kg)

Vertical Tension and compression (N) 0.5 x 9.81 x ATM (in kg)

Furthermore, the tow bar attachment point on trailers under 3.5t is rated at 1/2 the rating of the tow bar. Therefore when upgrading over 3.5t these attachments point must be upgraded to EACH accommodate the full ATM.

Finally, here is an important safety switch lanyard alert.

Dee Shackles and Safety Chains