The pile hammer is a relatively large and heavy machine which is normally used in a suspended position. Consequently, gravity can propel the hammer or any of its parts downward with great force. Therefore, every effort should be made to see that neither the machine or any of the hammer’s component parts are permitted to fall.
Supporting and lifting tackle should be of sufficient capacity to safely lift the weight of the hammer and to withstand the vibration of its operation. (See gross weight label on machine.) Likewise, all rigging should be heavy enough to handle the load safely and the entire system should be thoroughly inspected to insure its integrity before it is used. Refer to relevant standards-A.N.S.I. B-305; O.S.H.A. 1926.550 and 251; P.S.C.A.#1.
Since the hammer may be suspended well above the work level, all personnel should remain clear of the area. Barricades could be set up around the area for additional safety. Even an object such as a stone, bolt, or scrap may adhere to the hammer when laid down and if dropped from the hammer’s suspended height could cause harm. In addition to remaining clear of the area, steps should be taken to prevent any parts from dropping into the system. Such things as bolts, nuts, keys, fasteners, wedges and couplings should be tightened and checked before each use and after each drive during use. Good maintenance cannot be overemphasized in promoting the safe and efficient use of the hammer.
In addition to free falling objects, it is possible that projectiles can be thrown out during operation. Any foreign material in the lubricant, supply hose or cylinder may be ejected through the exhaust at high velocity. Personnel should therefore remain clear of the exhaust to avoid this risk as well as to avoid being burned by the exhaust steam or air.
If the air or steam lines are either not properly secured by chain or heavy rope, or if they fail in use they can become extremely dangerous. To reduce the risk of this occurring, all couplings should be checked before use and all hoses must be secured to the hammer just below the couplings. Refer to O.S.H.A. Standards 1926.603 (a) (9) (10). This will prevent the hose from whipping wildly over a great distance if the coupling should fail.
The ram point and the pile cap take a lot of punishment during driving. With use, fragments of metal may be broken or spalled off and ejected with the speed of a bullet. The risk can be reduced by repairing or replacing worn ram parts and pile caps, assuring that the pile is squarely cut, seating the pile in the cap properly while driving, assuring that the hammer is driving squarely, and using the appropriate pile cap. After each drive, a visual inspection of the ram point and cap should be made, staying well clear of the hammer when in use.