News & Views

Agreed Guidance Issued by FPS for the Handling of Specialist Geotechnical Operations

The Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) has established and agreed guidance that covers the specialist geotechnical operations undertaken by its members and seeks to take the lead in developing safer ways to undertake the operations.

Specifically, new guidance covers the handling of augers, casings and rods during mini piling and other specialist geotechnical operations undertaken by manual labour, which may typically involve lifting, moving and positioning often heavy components during the drilling process.

The issue of the guidance document follows the analysis of accident reports which highlighted the handling of specialist geotechnical operations as a high-risk activity along with evidence that this heavy manual labour and the awkward postures often involved are all risk factors in the potential development of Musculoskeletal Disorders. FPS members have reported a number of incidents where operative’s hands have been trapped and injured in the process.

Speaking about the guidance Alasdair Henderson, Chair of the FPS said: “The Federation of Piling Specialists promotes best practice to ensure that its Members maintain the highest standards of safety and this new guidance is a part of its commitment to driving industry safety standards forward.”

The guidance states that wherever reasonably practical, handling of augers, casings and rods during mini-piling and other specialist geotechnical operations shall be achieved by either of the following methods:

“A mechanised tool handling system be fitted to the rig, for example; a carousel, magazine”
“A mechanised tool handling device that can be attached to supporting equipment such as an excavator’s quick-hitch.”

In addition to the new guidance, members are working on sharing best practices both with each other and with machine manufacturers to address this key issue and ensure that the necessary tools are available. Such tools are already being employed on a number of projects and all members undertaking these operations are working hard to comply with the guidance.