Every year piling rigs fall over or are subject to near misses due to inadequately prepared or maintained site surfaces – often such incidents involve potential fatalities or serious injury to operatives and extensive damage to equipment. Modern piling equipment is becoming increasingly heavy, often with higher centres of gravity, to cater for the demand for deeper and larger diameter foundations to take higher load capacities.
In Europe and in particular the UK, there has been a coordinated effort by piling federations and the geotechnical fraternity to improve practices related to the use of piling and associated plant, with the aim of improving safety on construction sites. The Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) in the UK contracted the Building Research Establishment Ltd (BRE) to produce a guide to the design of working platforms.
The guide entitled, “Working Platforms for Tracked Plant”, was released in 2004 and notes in the foreword that the guide is not intended to reduce the designer’s input, but rather to promote the implementation of minimum design, installation, repair and maintenance standards. In Australia, the Piling & Foundation Specialists Federation (PFSF) is currently promoting awareness of the BRE guide and the importance of forming and maintaining good working platforms to the construction industry.
A working platform is the foundation for a piling rig and as such, geotechnical engineers are well qualified to design and specify the platform. The presentation describes the process of designing working platforms and what information is needed in terms of rigs pressures, types of loading and soil parameters. A common problem for the platform designer occurs in situations where pile foundations are to be used, where there is usually a lack of information within the geotechnical report on the upper soil profile, the critical zone of interest for the platform.
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