Quayside bollard load testing and the regulations and standards around it can be confusing, mostly because there isn’t much direction given, leaving port operators to wonder what exactly they should be doing.
Quayside bollards come under the Provision of and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) which is to say that the bollards should be:
- suitable for the intended use
- safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate
- used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
- accompanied by suitable health and safety measures
The most difficult thing in the UK is that many of the bollards that are currently in use are old, and many have an undetermined mooring capacity. So how does an operator know that they are suitable for the intended use? How do they know they are safe? What maintenance is actually done to ensure they are kept in a safe condition? A failure of a mooring bollard can have catastrophic consequences – damage to vessels, damage to quaysides, vessels adrift and, at worst, potential loss of life.
As vessels get larger, increasing windage area, bollards are put under ever increasing forces that they are potentially not designed to withstand, weakening them until ultimate failure.
So what can you do to reduce the chance of failure and, ultimately, potentially huge financial and reputational damage? Test them!
We have been carrying out quayside bollard load testing for the past 15 years, and have seen it become increasingly popular as vessel and port operators become ever more aware of the dangers.
We use a hydraulic pulling cylinder to pull bollards against each other, increasing the force slowly until the required maximum force is achieved. This system tests the bollards themselves, and also tests the integrity of the surrounding area as there is no reaction forces around the bollard as you have with some other systems.