Article Geotechnical

AGS Geotechnical Working Group Update

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Stephen West of Ramboll, the Leader of the Geotechnical Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Geotechnical Working Group are discussing following the group’s first two meetings of 2019.

Developing tools to aid members in the delivery of excellence in Ground Investigation
The Geotechnical Working Group are working on the final draft of a ‘thought piece’ on the risks involved with inadequately planned and designed GI for members and project stakeholders. The group are also looking to produce an information pack to assist AGS members liaising on this issue with non-specialist project stakeholders and professional bodies.
Whilst overall value of PI related claims is dropping the proportion of these relevant to the Geotechnical Industry still remains the same. Many of these are due to inadequate allowance for specialist geotechnical input at the right stage of projects, if at all. We are looking to help our members convince regular clients and project partners why getting them ‘round the table’ is best value in the long term and protects the interests of all.

Promotion of early stage career development and training for Geotechnical Engineers and Engineering Geologists in the Construction Industry
The Geotechnical Working Group are focusing on the promotion of early stage career development and training for Geotechnical Engineers and Engineering Geologists in the Construction Industry by setting up a sub-working group to explore this issue which will include representatives from key Universities.
Budget constraints and the demands of programme mean that many of the ‘hands on’ training in terms of dealing with and investigating/testing geological materials is not being provided during many University courses. We are looking to help members target the right training at new graduates to deliver our business requirements as efficiently as possible.

Engagement with the update process of the Geotechnical Suite of Eurocodes
The Geotechnical Working Group are also involved in the update process of the Geotechnical Suite of Eurocodes and sub-working groups are being primed to review relevant parts of 02 and 03 editions of BS EN1997 starting in May.
As an Industry, we must take our part in commenting and advising the Eurocode drafting committees to ensure that these codes align with suitable practice in terms of design/interpretation/investigation for geotechnical elements.

What impact do these issues have on AGS Members and what should the AGS do about these issues?
In simple terms, all of these issues can cost our members in terms of lost income, lost project opportunity, and industry reputation and often these losses are not directly down to our members actions or decisions. We are endeavouring to raise suitable consideration of Geotechnical Engineering issues up the agenda of all construction projects, not just the larger value infrastructure and commercial schemes.
The AGS can look to use the weight of expertise in our working groups to interact with other institutions, large public clients, and government to ‘fight our corner’ on these issues.

Additional topics being discussed by the Geotechnical Working Group
Other issues providing significant discussion within our group have included: suitable consideration of health and safety in ground investigation proposals, it is clear that CDM regulations are not being followed by many who procure ground investigation; inconsistency of terminology for common laboratory tests and resultant parameters, this is of particular importance when National scale projects use terminology different to that set out in relevant codes; suitable use of pile and anchor load testing to actually investigate the load carrying capacity of the ground these foundation elements are located within, “don’t be afraid to fail your test piles and anchors!”.