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Breaking Down of Piles

The breaking down of concrete piles is an essential part of the construction process and a subject that is often not given sufficient early thought in the planning of the piling works. The adoption of a suitable pile breaking method can result in financial and programme savings and most importantly will address and reduce potential health and safety issues in relation to this phase of the works.

Bored cast in place concrete piles should always be cast to a level above the specified cut-off such that, after trimming, a sound concrete connection with the pile can be made. Continuous flight auger piles and any other type concreted or grouted through the auger stem during extraction must always be concreted to the commencing surface level. Precast concrete piles should be driven such that the pile head level will provide sufficient reinforcement projection after trimming.

The pile casting level adopted should be within the tolerances as detailed in the latest ICE Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls (SPERW) and further guidance on this subject can be found in the SPERW document.

Breaking down of the concrete over-pour has traditionally been carried out using hand-held pneumatic breakers. This operation creates particular problems for hand arm vibration (HAVS), dust and noise. There are several viable alternatives to this procedure that remove or significantly reduce these risks. In many cases, these innovations have been fully developed and are readily available.

There are numerous methods available for the breaking down of concrete piles and this guidance note aims to cover the range of methods available, commenting on the advantages and disadvantages where appropriate.

Members of the Federation of Piling Specialists cannot be responsible for specifying the method for breaking down concrete piles on a project. This decision must be made during the procurement process and form part of any risk assessment required under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) for this section of the works. The final decision as to the type of pile breaking system to adopt must also consider the potential environmental impact of the operation.

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Documents Available

Safety in Design

Use of Debonding Foam

Breaking Down of Piles

Guidance on the application of CDM2007

Examples of hazards