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Designers Knowledge Base

Including foundation piles, installation of sheet piles, the load testing of piles and shafts of less than 3 metres in diameter.


In specifying the use of piles the designer should be aware of, and assess the risks from, the following principal hazards.

Some possible hazards and risks

  • health hazards such as contact with contaminated arisings or groundwater and contact with hazardous materials or dusts
  • noise, vibration
  • contact with plant or machinery during lifting, slewing and pitching of piling elements. the movement of piling rigs etc
  • plant instability caused by gradients, variable ground conditions, and/or inadequate bearing capacity
  • hazards of buried or overhead services
  • collapse of excavations, nearby structures etc


  • the stability of the surrounding structures is a prime consideration. The method of piling used may well be influenced by this
  • all underground services should be located and made safe. A careful investigation should be undertaken to ensure there are no cellars, underground water courses or ground conditions which could lead to hazardous situations
  • all workers on the operation should be trained in the particular method statement to be used
  • all cranes, lifting appliances and lifting gear must have appropriate test certificates proving periodic statutory examination and must be adequate for the job in hand
  • such equipment should be placed on a firm level base and /or crane mats used
  • consideration should be given to the risk of damage to lifting gear from sharp edges
  • noise and vibration are particular hazards and all persons associated with the operation should wear the appropriate protective clothing and equipment such as hard hats, eye and hearing protection
  • where it is necessary to raise or lower workers by crane such cranes should be fitted with a dead man's handle and all lowering should be done under power. The workers should be carried in properly constructed cages which cannot spin or tip


Piling operation will need to take account of:

  • ground conditions
  • identified buried features including cables and pipelines
  • stability of adjacent structures, both their foundations and superstructures

Method of Piling

Consideration must be given to the appropriate method of piling and the effect that the operation of bored or driven piles will have on the safety of adjacent structures both buried or standing.

Whatever the method of piling to be used no work should be undertaken until the piling contractor has produced a method statement which takes into account the hazards and risks associated with the particular circumstances of the job.

Relevant Legislation