The Kiwi Post Driver is an attachment for tractors, skid steers and 1-ton trucks. The driver is raised hydraulically and then released in a spring-assisted free fall. It is capable of striking wooden and steel fence or guardrail posts with an impact of 100,000 pounds. Posts can be driven into the ground in minutes with a minimum of manual labor, which make the Kiwi Post Driver an attractive option in the fence construction industry.
As with all good health and safety programs, your health and safety program should include training. Training programs should include task training, equipment operation training, hazard identification training, training in the proper use/care of personal protective equipment (PPE) and refresher training as required, needed or when there is a change in a procedure.
Two operators are required. One operates the equipment and the other operates the post driver. Both must be trained to operate the controls of the equipment, as well as, give and receive commands associated with post installation. Equipment operating procedures come from the manufacturers with all new purchases and should be obtained from the manufacturer if they are not included with used equipment purchases. Work should not begin until both operators are knowledgeable and can demonstrate competency in the use of the equipment. There are standardized hand and verbal commands for stopping, proceeding, turning, etc., which can be employed or commands can be developed to best suit the requirements at an individual job site.
Before operating the machine, inspect all hydraulic fittings and hoses. Make sure all machine nuts and bolts are tight and inspect for any cracks or signs of fatigue in any metal parts. If damage is detected, do not operate the machine until repairs are completed.
Keep a record of all repairs for future reference and to schedule any preventative maintenance. Lubricate the equipment and check fluid levels following manufacturer’s recommendations.
Notify all affected utilities and have them locate any underground pipes or cables. Don’t assume that all utilities subscribe to “One Call” services. Make sure that they do and contact the ones that don’t individually. Work with the customer to redesign the fence if utilities are located in the fence line. Overhead power lines not only create a contact hazard, while constructing the fence, but may also create an induction hazard, which can energize a metallic fence. Use recommended grounding procedures when installing metal fence near such hazards.
When operating the driver, never place body parts above or between the post and the top or sides of the driver. Keep all body parts at least 45O out of the plane created by the front sides of the driver. Strike the post with the top of the driver only. If the bottom of the driver is aligned in such a manner that it hits the post when the driver is dropped, the post will kick out. Think of driving a fence post like driving a nail. Take it easy until the post is started so it doesn’t kick out of the driver. Monitor every strike and observe the condition of the post. Stop driving if the post encounters an impassable object or if it begins to crack or the top begins to mushroom. Consider augering a pilot hole if ground conditions create the post driving conditions just mentioned. Never operate the post driver if unauthorized persons are in the area. Cease operations if unauthorized people approach and inform them of the potential hazards so they understand why you will not continue until they leave the area.
The post driver operator has the potential for the most exposure to health and safety hazards during the post-driving portion of fence installation. Hazards associated with post driving and augering may be pinch points, chemical exposure, noise exposure, inhalation hazard, splinters, eye injury, impact trauma, trip/slip/fall, overhead electrical contact, underground utility contact and entanglement. Other hazards associated with working outside may be heat/cold exposure, dehydration, bites, sunburn and contact dermatitis.
Besides wearing long sleeved shirt and long legged pants, this operator should be wearing, as a minimum, PPE consisting of hearing protection, eye protection, a hard hat, steel-toed boots, and gloves. The type and level of protection for the PPE should be determined based on potential exposure to the individual hazards. For example for sharp edges of steel posts or splinters in untreated or CCA treated wooden posts, leather gloves may be adequate for protection from cuts or splinters in the hands. For creosote treated wooden posts, butyl rubber gloves provide protection from chemical exposure to the skin of the hands.
Noise generated during post driving operations is a combination of continuous noise (equipment running) and impulse noise (impact of the post driver on the post). Hearing protection afforded by the earplugs or muffs is determined by the noise reduction rating (NRR) on the packaging. This is the number of “A” weighted decibels (dBA) of noise that are consistently blocked from reaching the auditory nerves, when the plugs or muffs are worn properly. Therefore, if noise is 100dBA and the potential exposure is 8 hours, hearing protection should be selected, which has a NRR that can reduce noise below 85dBA, which is the action level set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you are a company performing work and generating noise, when information indicates that any employee's exposure may equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels, you must have a Hearing Conservation Program in place. You can obtain the information for the requirements of this program by obtaining a copy of 29CFR1910.95 or 29CFR1926.52 or going to OSHA’s web site:
Occupational noise exposure. - 1910.95 or Occupational noise exposure. - 1926.52 or
search their entire standards section for the appropriate standards associated with your job task.
Drilling in rock containing silica may create an inhalation hazard. Using water to saturate the hole, while drilling, will reduce this risk. OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard has extensive requirements that must be met before respirators can be issued. You can obtain the information for the requirements of this standard by obtaining a copy of 29CFR1910.134 or going to OSHA’s web site:
Information for Employees Using Respirators or search their entire standards section for the appropriate standards associated with your job task.
A level of protection from a particular hazard is the main criteria in PPE selection but user comfort is a very important consideration when purchasing PPE. Comfort is not just based on the correct size. The user must be able to wear the PPE for the time period necessary to provide the desired protection. One size does not fit all and different models of the same type of PPE may feel different to different users. By providing PPE designed for the correct protection level from a variety of manufacturers or fitting before purchase, users will work more comfortably for longer periods of time in their PPE.
At a minimum, the equipment operator needs to wear eye and hearing protection. Any other employees, who will be working nearby, must, also, wear hearing protection if they have the potential to be exposed to noise in excess of the OSHA TWA of 85dBA.
OSHA regulations have the force of law with severe fines and possible imprisonment, not to mention that the possibility of serious injury and death may result from ignoring or failure of an employer or employee to comply with these Standards. It is prudent practice in business to follow or even exceed the minimum requirements of the Code. Individuals, who are performing post-driving operations privately, are encouraged to follow these same health and safety practices.
We have attempted to identify and define as many of the hazards and their controls associated with driving posts and installing fence as possible but this is by no means an all-inclusive list of potential hazards or control and mitigation of those hazards. This isn’t meant to substitute for a comprehensive health and safety program. As a member of the American Fence Association, you can obtain the template for a written health and safety program, which you can adapt to your company’s needs. Seek the advise of a health and safety professional if you feel you can’t properly identify the hazards or control and mitigation of those hazards, which are associated with your fencing operation.