Eiffel 101: Pile Driving Safety Gear

The purpose of foundation piling is to transfer the weight of a structure from the topsoil to the stronger soil or rock below. This is achieved through the use of piles, which are driven into the ground using a pile driver. Before installing piles, all personnel should have the proper safety gear to ensure they can carry out their work safely and efficiently. Here, we cover an overview of pile driving as well as the proper equipment and clothing needed to avoid injury on the job.

Foundation Equpment

Pile Driving Equipment: An Overview

In order to install a pile, one of two methods can be used: replacement or displacement. Displaced piles are driven, jacked, vibrated or screwed into the ground, displacing the soil around the pile. Replacement piles, on the other hand, are installed by removing the soil to form a hole in the earth, which the pile is then set into.

As the name suggests, pile drivers drive piles into the earth through displacement. There are several types of pile drivers, including air hammers, diesel hammers and vibratory hammers.

Air Hammer

Air hammers use compressed air and can be either single-acting or double-acting. Single-acting air hammers are semi-automatic and consist of a heavy failing cylinder sliding up and down a fixed piston, which is raised by steam or compressed air. Double-acting air hammers are made of a cast iron cylinder that stays stationary on the pile head while the hammer delivers rapid blows using compressed air. Double-acting air hammers are most often used when conventional hammers are prohibited by reduced headroom.

Diesel Hammer

Diesel hammers are self-contained units suspended from a crane or slide-in leaders rested on the top of the pile. A falling steel cylinder creates the driving action, raised by the explosion of gas from the automatic injection of fuel.

Vibratory Hammer

Vibratory hammers install piles through the use of vibration rather than hammer blows, which reduces the ground resistance around a pile and allows the pile to pass into the earth. Vibratory drivers can be either low or high frequency. The vibrators are powered by diesel-hydraulic power units.

Piles: An Overview

Foundation piles come in many different types, including pipe pile, sheet pile, H-pile and wide flange beams.

Pipe Pile

Steel pipe pile is used to create a strong foundation for large, heavy structures such as buildings, bridges and roads. The piles are made of steel pipe that’s driven or drilled deep into the ground in order to help distribute the weight of a structure down to the stronger soil or rock below. There are several different types of steel pipe piling including unplugged open ended, plugged open ended, bottom plate, steel pipe with rock shoe, and more. Different types of pipe pile will work better for different projects, depending on the nature of the soil and the weight of the structure that’s being supported.

Used Steel Pipe for Sale

Sheet Pile

Sheet piles are a steel sheet material with interlocking edges that are driven into the ground for applications such as earth retention systems, bridge foundations, and to support excavation projects. Unlike other types of pile, sheet pile acts more like a wall and is commonly used for retaining walls, land reclamation, car parking lots, basements, riverbank protection, seawalls and cofferdams. The interlocking system of sheet piling allows for easy positioning and driving of the piles, as well as creating a close fitting joint that can be brushed with sealant to be made watertight.

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H-piles are similar to pipe pile in their function, but differ from pipe pile in their shape. H-piles are structural beams that are dimensionally square, with the same thickness in the flange and web. When compared to other types of pile, the H-pile beam design provides better weight distribution over a wider area and can support larger and heavier structures, such as tall buildings and factories. Individual piles have been tested to withstand loads of 1,000 tons.

Steel beams: wide flange, h-oile, and more

Wide Flange Beams

Wide flange beams are a structural steel shape that include a central web that connects two parallel end units, known as “flanges.” Wide flange beams differ from h-pile beams in that they are not symmetrical in width vs. depth, nor do they have the same thickness in flange and web. Because of this, w-beams are available in larger sizes than that of h-pile. For example, h-pile beams are typically available with 8”, 10”, 12”, 14”, and 16” flanges. On the other hand, wide flange beams have flanges ranging from 8” to 36”. Wide flange beams are extremely strong, and used to create deep foundations for bridges, highways, buildings, and more.


Pile Driving Safety Gear

A pile driver is a large, heavy-duty piece of machinery that deserves caution when operating. Before beginning a project, it’s important that all personnel have the proper safety gear to ensure they can carry out their work safely and efficiently. Such safety gear includes:

Hard Hats

Work Gloves

  • Gloves should fit snugly so that they do not get caught in equipment or rigging.

  • Consider potential exposure or hazards that are specific to the task when selecting glove types, such as rubber, leather, cotton, neoprene, or cut resistant.

Safety Glasses

Safety Toed Footwear

Hearing Protection

  • Time weighted average (TWA) should not exceed 90dB. If it does, double the hearing protection may be required.

Safety Vest

Proper Clothing

  • Wear long pants.

  • Clothing should be fitted. Avoid baggy or loose clothing that can get caught in equipment or rigging.

  • Secure long hair so that it does not get caught in equipment or rigging.

  • Wear long-sleeve shirts for protection where appropriate, such as during welding.

  • Wear welding hoods with clear safety glasses when required. Wear face shields and burning glasses or goggles when burning, and face shields and safety glasses when grinding.

  • In addition to hearing, face and eye protection, wear protective chaps when using a chain saw.

Foundation Equipment for Sale

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