Eiffel 101: Vibratory Hammer Routine Safety Checklist

To install a foundation pile, it must be forced into the ground. This is often done using a pile driver. A vibratory hammer is a unique type of pile driver because—instead of using large weights to strike piles into the earth—it uses vibrations to reduce the earth’s resistance, which reduces the friction between the pile and the ground. Employing this technique, new piles can be driven quickly and quietly, and old piles can be extracted efficiently. Using a traditional pile driver, it might take up to an hour to drive a 100 foot pile into the ground, but with a vibratory hammer, that same pile can be installed in minutes.

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Vibratory Hammer Routine Inspection Checklist

Before operating a vibratory hammer, the following steps should be taken to ensure the machinery is in good working order.

• Inspect large elastomers for cracks.

• Remove any damaged wire ropes.

• Inspect the shackle pin cotter key and nut.

• Inspect small elastomers for cracks.

• Inspect the pop off safety valve for leaks.

Inspect hoses for wear.

• Inspect all bolts on the elastomers to ensure they are well-tightened.

• Inspect the line pull pin for damage.

• Inspect the motor couplers for leaks.

• Inspect the suppressor mounting bolts to ensure they are well-tightened.

• Inspect all bearing covers for damage.

• Inspect all welds for cracks.

Inspect oil levels in gearbox.**

• Inspect the breather valve on the center of the motor bearing cover;
remove any paint that could block the breather.

Inspect the hose clamp securing clamp lines for damage.**

• Inspect the condition of the hose bundle for cracks or damage.

** When checking the oil level, if you can't read the level then you should not operate the machine. Remove the sight gauge and spray it with WD40 to clean the glass, then replace. Avoid overfilling the oil or the unit will overheat. If the oil level on the gague automatically increases, it indicates a bad motor shaft seal, which can result in hydraulic oil entering the gearbox. If this happens, remove or replace the motor while the hammer is laying on the ground and the motor is facing the sky. Consult the manufacturer for further instructions.

** Generally, when mounting a new clamp, you should use a straightedge to check machined surfaces on the bottom of the hammer and the top of the clamp. Inspect the surface to ensure it is clean and flat. Don't drive piles if any of the clamp mounting bolts are missing. If the clamp attachment falls off, it's because the bolts are not properly tightened.

Vibratory Hammer Routine Safety Checklist

Before operating a vibratory hammer, the following steps should be taken to ensure all workers remain safe.

• When operating the vibratory hammer in an enclosed space, pipe exhaust fumes outside. Breathing exhaust fumes can cause serious injury and even death.

• When servicing batteries, avoid any type of spark or open flame. Batteries generate explosive gases during charging and there should always be proper ventilation when handling.

• Never adjust or repair the unit while it is in operation.

• Keep the workspace clear and clean. Remove all tools and electrical cords from the area before starting the unit. Never store flammable liquids near the engine.

Never stand under a vibratory hammer.

• Always keep a look out for loose bolts or leaking hydraulic lines.

Avoid pulling on hose quick-disconnect fittings. If the hoses don’t reach, move the power unit closer to the working area. Never use hoses as a tow line to tug the power unit.

• Avoid kinks in the hoses, as they can reduce the hose safety factor.

• Always wear eye and ear protection when operating a vibratory hammer.

Avoid standing downwind of vibrating piles. Dirt and other matter may become airborne and fall into unprotected eyes.

• Always wear a hardhat, gloves, and safety shoes when working with or near a vibratory hammer.

When moving, driving or extracting pile, always attach safety line between pile and crane hook.

Lay the hammer down on ground when not in use.

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