Although the pile hammer is constructed of non-flammable materials, the high temperature generated during use can pose a threat to the user if caution is not used. The types of hazards that may be produced are, first, the combustion of materials associated with the use of the hammer and, second, burns from contacting the heated parts of the machine. During use, the hammer will get hot as a result of the tremendous energy that is expended with the expansion of steam or air in the cylinder and with each blow of the ram. Although it is unlikely, it is possible that the heat will be sufficient to ignite some lubricants that may be used on or around the hammer. Information regarding the combustibility of the lubricants can be found either on the container or can be obtained from the manufacturer. Keeping the machine reasonably clean and avoiding the build-up of dirt that could absorb oil and grease will reduce the risk of fire.
Cushion material, having been subjected to impact of the ram does experience very high temperatures. There is little chance of most materials actually flaming during use if they are the ones recommended by Vulcan and used in the recommended manner. However, when the material is removed and has access to open air, some materials may burn or come in contact with another material that will burn. Therefore, used cushion material should be stored or disposed of in a place and in such a way that it will not create a risk as a source or transmitter of fire.
During use, for reasons previously mentioned, the hammer can become hot and this heat can be retained for a long while after use. Consequently, during or just after the use of equipment, workmen should exercise caution when in the vicinity of the hammer to avoid being burned by contact with hot metal parts.
When steam is being used, special caution should be used. High pressure steam is extremely dangerous if not treated with respect. Also, condensed steam may drip off the hoses or the hammer and could cause serious burns.
Since there is some chance of fire, an approved type fire extinguisher should be kept on hand at all times and a burn treatment kit should be kept with first aid materials. Being alert and aware of the hazards is a good defense against them.