CROSS Safety Report
Failure of pile load test arrangement
This report is over 2 years old
A pile was being load-tested, for confirmation of design pile loads for the foundations of a road bridge, when the web of the deep steel beam used in the testing arrangement buckled.
Key Learning Outcomes
For construction professionals:
It is good practice to have a load test arrangement designed and assessed by a suitably qualified engineer to ensure the members can accommodate the test load
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In 1985, a 12m long 600mm diameter pile was being load-tested for confirmation of design pile loads for the foundations of a road bridge. The testing arrangement was a deep steel beam with a tension pile at each end and a load cell in the centre pushing against the pile (Figure 1). At around 1.5 x working load (105t), the beam web buckled, and the load dropped back to an approximate working load of 76t.
The pile contractor unloaded the pile, welded some stiffeners in and reloaded satisfactorily to 1.5 x working load for 48 hours. Analysis of the beam to BS449, showed the web as being close to buckling at 105t, with fbc=179N/mm2 and fe (fbc+fb+fq) =194N/mm2 at midspan, cf 230N/mm2 max.
The pile contractor had just taken over the sub-contract from the previous contractor, who had gone into administration. Hopefully this failure would not be dealt with in this manner these days!
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