Posts by Katie Kennedy

Article

2020 AGS Sponsorship packages

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Arrange your sponsorship for the year in one go, with comprehensive coverage across all AGS events in 2020. The sponsorship will cover the following events:

  • January 2020 – Commercial Risks conference, Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
  • April 2020 – AGS Annual Conference, National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham
  • July 2020 – Instrumentation & Monitoring conference, London
  • September 2020 – Data Format conference, National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham

 PACKAGES AVAILABLE

  • Platinum sponsor for all events: AGS Member Rate: £4250 / Non-Member Rate: £5,200
  • Exclusive: Includes named sponsorship of AGS Awards, hosted at the Annual Conference
  • Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
  • Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
  • Entry for three delegates into each event
  • Company logo on each attending delegates’ lanyard across all events
  • A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software at each event. This exhibition space can showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slides
  • Company logo and overview on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page per event
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page per event

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

  • Diamond sponsor for all events: AGS Member Rate: £4250 / Non-Member Rate: £5,200
  • Exclusive: Includes named sponsorship of AGS magazine for 2020 with promotion on front cover
  • Catering sponsor with logo on menu for all events
  • Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
  • Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
  • Entry for three delegates into each event
  • A designated area at each event to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slides
  • Company logo and overview on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page per event
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page per event

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

  • Gold sponsor at all events: AGS Member Rate: £2,500 / Non-Member Rate: £3,500)
  • Entry for two delegates into each event
  • A designated area at each event to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slides
  • Company logo and overview on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page per event
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page per event

*Limited packages available

  • Gold sponsor at 2 events / silver sponsor at 2 events: AGS Member Rate: £1,750 / Non-Member Rate: £2,400
  • Select 2 events to be a Gold sponsor and 2 to be a Silver sponsor. Subject to availability.

Gold packages x2:

  • Entry for two delegates into 2x events
  • A designated area at 2x events to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slides
  • Company logo and overview on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page per event
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page per event

Silver packages x2:

  • Entry for one delegate into 2x events
  • ¼ page advert in AGS magazine
  • Company logo on event PowerPoint Presentation holding slides
  • Company logo on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page

All prices exclude VAT.

  • Silver sponsor at all events: AGS Member Rate: £1,500 Non-Member Rate: £2,000
  • Entry for one delegate into all 4 events
  • ¼ page advert in AGS magazine
  • Company logo on event PowerPoint Presentation holding slides
  • Company logo on the event programmes
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page per event

All prices exclude VAT. Subject to availability.

To confirm sponsorship or if you have any questions, please contact Joanna Franaszczuk on 0208 658 8212 or email ags@ags.org.uk

Event

Brownfield Investigation and Remediation 2019  

Brownfield Investigation and Remediation 2019  
2019-10-0909th Oct 2019
London

The AGS are pleased to support Brownfield Investigation and Remediation 2019, which will be taking place on 9 October in London. This conference will join together their previous Site Investigation and Risk and Remediation events, offering delegates regulatory updates, insights into current site investigation works and cost-effective solutions to contaminated land risk assessment and remediation challenges.

Brownfield Investigation and Remediation 2019 will provide the brownfield sector with a streamed conference programme, which will focus specifically on site investigation and risk and remediation, bringing the field together with keynote plenaries, invaluable networking time and an exhibition area showcasing those at the forefront of the contaminated land industry.

Visit the event website here.

AGS members receive 10% off the conference with the code AGS10.

Event Loss Prevention

AGS Commercial Risks & How to Manage Them Conference 2020

AGS Commercial Risks & How to Manage Them Conference 2020
2020-01-2222nd Jan 2020
Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester

Following the success of the AGS Commercial Risks Conference in London, this half day seminar organised by the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists will provide a focus on the management of commercial risks.

Taking place on the afternoon of Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at The Manchester Conference Centre, in Manchester, this CPD conference is aimed at both junior and experienced ground engineers, who are interested in improving their knowledge and skills within this sector. The event will also be relevant to practitioners approaching Chartership, as well as those in smaller practices where there may be limited or no in-house legally qualified sources of help or advice. The conference will end at 4:30pm.

Chaired by Jo Strange, Technical Director at CGL, attending delegates will be provided with an introduction of the guidance and advice provided by the AGS Loss Prevention Working Group, with particular attention being given to recent hot topics.

TICKET PRICES
AGS members may attend for £70, whereas non-AGS Members may attend for £130. Prices exclude VAT.

To confirm your attendance please complete the registration form and return it to ags@ags.org.uk at your earliest convenience.

Spaces are limited so we recommend early booking. Application forms received after 8th January 2020 may not be accepted.

Registration and Lunch: 12:30

WELCOME ADDRESS AND INTRODUCTION
Jo Strange, Technical Director CGL

RELIANCE, COLLATERAL WARRANTIES AND LIMITING LIABILITY
Zita Mansi, Senior Associate at Beale & Company

THE IMPORTANCE OF DEFINITIONS WHEN AGREEING SCOPES AND OBJECTIVES
Hugh Mallett, Technical Director at BuroHappold Engineering.

GETTING IT RIGHT…. AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T
Stephen Hargreaves, Director at Griffiths & Armour

THE BATTLE OF THE FORMS – A FOCUS ON CONTRACT FORMATION AND PURCHASE ORDERS
Dr Russell Jones, Principle at Golder Associates UK

REDUCING RISK AND PREVENTING CLAIMS ON COMPLEX BROWNFIELD RESIDENTIAL SITES
Adam Gombocz, Senior Geotechnical Engineer at NHBC

FITNESS FOR PURPOSE OR REASONABLE SKILL AND CARE.
Rachel Griffiths, Contracts Manager at Fugro

POTENTIAL LIABILITIES FOR LANDFILL TAX
Jonathan Atkinson, Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency

CLOSING ADDRESS

Event to end at 4:30pm

SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES

Platinum (AGS Member Rate: £1250 / Non-Member Rate: £1500) 

  • Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
  • Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
  • Entry for three delegates into the event
  • Company logo on each attending delegates’ lanyard
  • A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
  • Company logo and overview on the event programme
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

Diamond (AGS Member Rate: £1250 / Non-Member Rate: £1500) 

  • Catering sponsor with logo on menu
  • Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
  • Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
  • Entry for three delegates into the event
  • A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
  • Company logo and overview on the event programme
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page
  • Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

Gold (AGS Member Rate: £750 / Non-Member Rate: £1000) 

  • Entry for two delegates into the event
  • A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
  • Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
  • Company logo and overview on the event programme
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page

*Limited packages available

Silver (AGS Member Rate: £500 Non-Member Rate: £650) 

  • Entry for one delegate into the event
  • ¼ page advert in AGS magazine
  • Company logo on event PowerPoint Presentation holding slide
  • Company logo on the event programme
  • Company overview on the AGS website
  • Announcement of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page

All prices exclude VAT. Unlimited silver sponsorship packages available.

To register your attendance or for details on our available sponsorship packages please contact Joanna Franaszczuk on 0208 658 8212 or email ags@ags.org.uk.

News

AGS Magazine: August 2019

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Tags: Featured

The Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists are pleased to announce the August issue of their publication; AGS Magazine. To view the magazine click HERE.

This free, publication focuses on geotechnics, engineering geology and geoenvironmental engineering as well as the work and achievements of the AGS.

There are a number of excellent articles in this month’s issue including;
Geotechnica 2019: Summary and Review – Page 4
Safety in Mind – A conference from the AGS Health & Safety Working Group – Page 6
AGS Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference – Page 8
An Insight into the SiLC Exam – Page 12
Is your materials management compliant? – Page 14
Q&A with Zita Mansi of Beale & Co – Page 16
Working Group Focus: Laboratories – Page 19

Advertising opportunities are available within future issues of the publication. To view rates and opportunities please view our media pack by clicking HERE.

If you have a news story, article, case study or event which you’d like to tell our editorial team about please email ags@ags.org.uk. Articles should act as opinion pieces and not directly advertise a company. Please note that the publication of editorial and advertising content is subject to the discretion of the editorial board.

Article

Is your Materials Management Compliant?

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Tags: Featured

In an article in the March/April AGS Magazine on “Recent changes to Landfill Tax”, Andy O’Dea of WSP highlighted the keen interest HMRC are taking in this issue and the prospect of serious fines and prosecutions for those failing to properly regulate the soils they reuse onsite or export to other sites. Following some recent action by HMRC and the Environment Agency, Andy provides us with an update.

As part of a day of action (23 May 2019) HMRC and the Environment Agency teamed up to inspect 60 waste sites potentially treating, storing or disposing of waste illegally. Described as the “biggest single joint day of action” on suspected waste crime, this is something we have been expecting! The drive to tackle waste crime is high on the EA agenda and the financial sanctions that HMRC bring now present both ‘carrot and stick’ on this issue.

The visits so far are targeting obvious criminal activity where no care for the environment is taken and quick financial gain by avoiding waste fees is the main driver. However, general earthworks and remediation projects for brownfield sites need to heed this news as reusing soils without robust documentation falls under the same principles and may result in audit or inspection by the EA/HMRC.

By far the simplest, quickest and efficient way to regulate the reuse of soils onsite or export of clean, natural soils for use on another site is the use of Material Management Plans under the CL:AIRE Definition of Waste Code of Practice (DoWCoP). Securing a declaration under the DoWCoP is generally straightforward when done in advance and supported by the required information about the materials to be reused. However, the declaration is not the end of the waste discussion; tracking soil movements and verification of the works is paramount to completing the project. If the verification loop is not closed, HMRC are of the opinion that the soils reused remain a waste and attract landfill tax (and additional penalties related to unauthorised sites).

Recently we audited a development site working under a Materials Management Plan and Declaration. The intention was for clean, naturally derived soils to be transported to a receiver site. Our visit uncovered that the soils intended for transfer had been moved on site and become intermixed with a large amount of construction waste, wooden pallets, concrete, asphalt, mortar, plastic, wire and metal. The soil is no longer suitable for transfer, it has become a mixed waste. It is now likely that the soils will have to be disposed of to landfill or subject to waste treatment because it was not managed properly.

In our experience, this is not an isolated incident. Poor material and waste management on construction sites, lack of segregation and inadequate management of sub-contractors is resulting in unexpected costs for developers or worse, going unnoticed.

The introduction of the CL:AIRE Code of Practice has been a positive move in the sustainable reuse of soils on development sites but now is the time to make sure sites are managing the soils properly. We are confident that prosecutions will be brought forward soon and that a declaration is not protection in itself. Effective management of soils and demonstration of this through verification is vital to avoid hefty fines and reputational damage.

Article provided by Andy O’Dea, Technical Director at WSP

Article

An Insight into the SiLC Exam

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Tags: Featured SiLC

If you have ever considered applying to be a Specialist in Land Condition (SiLC) and wondered what the process is like, this may help you. We asked some people who have recently become SiLC what their thoughts on the process.

Motivation for becoming a SiLC is often driven by personal desire, but support and encouragement from employers can really help. Aspirations to achieve the next obvious step in career development and reassure clients and regulators of competence when trying to negotiate agreement on a tricky site were big personal drivers. In my experience and from talking to others, where employers do not actively encourage professional accreditations from early years, SiLC uptake is lower within an organisation. There are clients and regulators who require demonstration of competence, such as SiLC, to work on their projects.

Looking back over their SiLC application process, candidates consider it has given them increased confidence in their own abilities and instilled some new behaviours that help them do a better job going forward. For instance, they have continued the rigour in researching source documents for actual legal definitions or specific wording in guidance rather than relying on memory or text within a previously written report. During exam research one candidate set up a series of weblinks to key documents which they now consult easily and regularly as part of their job. Another candidate really enjoyed going back to some of the source legislation that they might not have consulted for a while and reading minutes from some of the contaminated land forums which exist. On receiving the exam questions, candidates tend to be aware of the main topics and knew where to start and where further research was required to add detail to their answers. Some struggled with providing an executive style summary of data within a word count but recognise this is a key skill for presenting technical information to clients. It is always best to write the summary and then go back through it, perhaps several times, to ensure that all the salient points are covered and that the envisaged client would get an appropriate understanding of the site, based on the information provided, and also to check that words are not used up unnecessarily where a more concise use of words would leave some words to enable the adding of more information provided that it is included in the supplied report extracts etc.

Many said that the SiLC Induction Day was beneficial, making people feel “I’m ready for this” or “I can achieve this” and de-busting some of the myths about how difficult it is to become a SiLC. It highlighted the need to consider what being a specialist within your own field and experience means. You are not expected to be an expert but you are expected to employ rigorous questioning and checking of facts and research. The pass rate is higher for those who attend the Induction Day compared to those who don’t. Some consultancies have hosted Induction Days for a number of their staff at one time.

The interview was generally found to be “challenging but fair and friendly”. Those candidates who had reviewed their exam submissions prior to the interview and acknowledged where they did not know an answer but could explain what they would do to find out were typically more successful.

Candidates should not underestimate the time required to complete the exam and this can be the reason why some candidates fail. However, those who have been through the process and come out as a SiLC have found that it has given them increased confidence and often changes their ways of working for the better. It is also easy CPD for the year. All say that having done it that they feel it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

As a SiLC we can help raise standards within our industry by encouraging our employers to support and promote professional accreditation and raise awareness with potential clients and regulators of systems in place to demonstrate competence.

Further information about SiLC can be found on the SiLC website.

Article provided by Louise Beale, Technical Director at SLR.

Article

Q&A with Zita Mansi

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Tags: Featured


Full Name: Zita Mansi
Job Title: Senior Associate
Company: Beale & Co

Zita has specialised in environmental and construction professional indemnity law since May 2002.  Her construction practice includes the defence of claims against engineers, architects and other construction consultants and bringing claims for contribution and counterclaims for fees where necessary.

Her environmental practice includes: defence of claims against construction consultants arising out of contaminated land issues; defending claims in negligence, public or private nuisance for losses attributable to environmental factors (contamination, odours, noise, vibration, dust, flooding etc); responding to enforcement actions and investigations undertaken by various regulators following environmental incidents (including advising before and during interviews under caution, submissions to the regulator regarding level of harm caused, and establishing whether the regulator has followed its own internal policies and procedures); defending environmental prosecutions and related third party claims.

Zita is responsible for the day-to-day conduct of litigated and non-litigated disputes and frequently acts in multi-party disputes in the TCC, in mediations and other forms of ADR. She also acts in regulatory matters in a construction context, advising clients in response to HSE investigations and defending prosecutions.

What or who inspired you to become a lawyer in the construction industry?
During my training contract to become a solicitor I did a seat in the construction team of the firm I was with. I really enjoyed the complexity of construction projects and every case is so different and offers a new challenge. There are also many technical as well as legal issues to understand too. From early on I was involved in defending claims brought by developers against ground engineers. I developed a special interest in these types of claims and helping engineers to put in place simple measures to avoid them.

What does a typical day entail?
Every day is different of course but a typical day would involve reviewing documents, attending meetings and / or phone calls with clients. Dealing with ad hoc queries. We also manage the AGS Legal Helpline so I quite often will deal with calls from that.

Are there any cases which you’re particularly proud to have advised on?
I often defend prosecutions brought by the Environment Agency and on many occasions we have persuaded the Agency not to prosecute our client which is extremely satisfying.

What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
I will often have multiple deadlines running at the same time so managing these, my time and multi-tasking between them can be difficult. It can also be difficult to switch off when I’m not in the office from certain cases that are particularly challenging.

What AGS Working Group are you a Member of and what are your current focuses?
I am a member of the Loss Prevention Working Group, which focusses on commercial risks faced by members and how to reduce them. One of our objectives is to get across the message that there are simple things members can do to reduce their exposure to claims. The group held a seminar in London recently on ‘Commercial Risks’ which I was lucky enough to speak at, covering collateral warranties, reliance and limiting liability. We are hoping to re-run the seminar in Manchester later in January 2020.

What do you most enjoy about being an AGS affiliate and why is it beneficial?
Being involved in the AGS gives members a great opportunity to share their knowledge and hear from other members and learn from them. I find this incredibly beneficial in my role as a lawyer and also on the Loss Prevention Working group. Understanding the reality of what the members work involves and the practical issues they face means that as a lawyer I can make my advice more relevant.

Why do you feel the AGS is important to the industry?
The AGS is an important focal point and repository for know-how tailored to this particular industry. It helps to maintain standards and their work can influence other industry bodies.

What changes would you like to see implemented in the geotechnical industry?
I would like to see an acceptance by employers and clients that it is reasonable for engineers and contractors to limit their liability. Unlimited liability benefits no-one and only puts the consultant / contractor at risk of insolvency.

Article Loss Prevention

AGS Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference

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Tags: Featured

The AGS held it’s first Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference on 3rd July 2019 at the Chartered Accountants Hall in Moorgate Place London, which was sponsored by BAM Ritchies, Bridgeway Consulting, Envirolab, Fugro, Geo Integrity, NHBC, Structural Soils, Socotec and Tensar. The event was a sell out and following a very nice lunch and opportunity to meet some of the sponsors, a tightly packed schedule with expert speakers talking on various pertinent topics was laid on for delegates.

Zita Mansi (Beale & Company) kicked off with detailing  what to look for in terms of appointment, such as limiting assignments and 3rd party rights, limiting liability with a financial cap, ideally in the aggregate (noting that this is different to the limit on PI insurance),  and excluding indirect/ consequential liabilities. Further advice followed on controlling additional contracts such as Collateral Warranties which multiply liabilities and reassignments, which transfer liabilities. Both should reflect the original contract and avoid extending the scope and duration of liabilities. Such additional risks should be priced appropriately.

Hugh Mallett (BuroHappold and AGS Loss Prevention Working Group Leader) spoke on the importance of defining the scope of works and objectives clearly and where something apparently wrong appears in the scope, this must be clarified and not ignored to avoid potential future disputes.  Even, and especially, when the client is well known with a good working relationship. He recommended use of authoritative definitions and report contents where possible, a clear agreed set of terms and conditions and checks / caveats on the quality of 3rd party data.  Beware ‘cheap and quick’ reports which impose the same liabilities as a full assessment.  AGS LPA 69 provides appropriate advice and guidance.

Stephen Hargreaves (Griffiths and Armour) provided a number of case studies based on insurance claims. He explained that geotechnical works are considered high risk because of the risks of ‘unknowns’ and the associated high value claims. The geotechnical engineer can unwittingly become part of a dispute even when they have discharged their duties under the contract.  Reiterating and expanding on Hugh’s message, the advice was to beware Client’s making assumptions on the scope and objectives.  Further there is onus on the engineer to reference limitations, qualifications and assumptions relating to advice given to avoid misuse and misinterpretation and an unintended extended duty of care. Generally claims often 0000000 occurred where there was an interface between various non contracted parties and lack of communication.  The advice was to maintain an ‘eyes wide open’ policy.

Russell Jones (Golder Associates) brought forward the ‘battle of the forms’, i.e. which form of contract applies when a client offers on form and the consultant/ contractor offers an alternative. The ‘alternative’ is still an offer or counteroffer, until acceptance is in place. In a nutshell, the contract that has ‘acceptance’ will be deemed the relevant document, which is usually the ‘last shot wins ‘approach, i.e. the last counteroffer on the table. However, this can be counteracted by action, such as the works starting which can be deemed as acceptance of the offered contract. The key is negotiation, clarity and …where possible, issue the last offer of terms!

Adam Gombocz (NHBC) moved away from direct contractual issues to talk about how the NHBC ‘Buildmark’ warranty provide insurance for building works, but will ONLY be granted when adequate and appropriate investigation, assessment and design has been completed to the satisfaction of the NHBC technical team. He described a number of shocking (and expensive!) case studies. Problems typically relate to lack of site investigation, soft soils, settlement, raised levels, groundwater and/or deep fill, with most issues arising on site where ground levels are raised and assessment/ design does not take account of this.  Guidance on NHBC requirements regarding Land Quality is included in Chapter 4.1 of the NHBC guidance.

Rachel Griffiths (Fugro) explained the ‘duty of care’ required in providing services or goods.  Goods fall under a ‘fit for purpose’ requirement of the Sale of Goods Act. Provision of services falls under a requirement for ‘reasonable skill and care’ under the Supply of Goods and Services Act. These are different and consultants giving advice or providing designs should make sure that the contract is specific as to the required duty of care to avoid defaults and misunderstandings. This should also be made clear in reports. Similarly, beware wording in contracts that ‘warrants….guarantees….. ensures….’ which implies a standard of services over and above reasonable skill and care and increases liabilities and may not be covered by PI insurance.

As the final speaker, on a non contractual topic, Jonathan Atkinson (Environment Agency) raised the subject of landfill tax being payable on illegally deposited waste, be that on an unlicensed landfill or unpermitted deposit on a construction site. Non complaint disposed materials attract the higher rates of landfill tax and HMRC who are now working with the EA have the option to add a further penalty of 100% landfill tax. This is in addition to any prosecution and associated fines.  It is also retrospective. Those at risk are anyone involved in wrongful deposition of waste, such as advisors, brokers, hauliers, landowners, waste producers, as the liability is ‘joint and several’. The legislation equally applies to construction wastes including incorrect use or abuse of waste exemptions or the CL:AIRE DOWCOP . Therefore, to protect against prosecution evidence is required to show that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that disposal at an unauthorised site doesn’t happen. This relates to making sure that material isn’t waste and if it is, that it is handled, disposed or re-used  in accordance with the relevant legislation and that records are available as proof, such a checks on material being disposed to the correct site or production of a verification report.

All attendees were given food for thought. For some it was maybe a ‘wake up’ call or reminder that simply ‘doing the job’ is not enough.

The AGS website has numerous documents and up to date commercial guidance, freely available to members and the Legal Helpline offers members 15 mins of free advice  from Beale and Co, if needed.

Presentations from the Conference with approval from speakers can be viewed on the AGS website.

Article provided by Jo Strange, Technical Director at CGL and Chair of the AGS Commercial Risks Conference.

Article Laboratories

AGS Laboratories Working Group Update

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Tags: Featured

Mark Beastall of Socotec, the recently elected new leader of the Laboratories Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Laboratories Working Group discussed at a recent meeting which took place in May 2019.

Validation of a suitable calibration procedure for the Filter Paper used in the BRE4/93 Soil Suction Test
Dimitris Xirouchakis has written a new procedure for the calibration of Filter Papers. This method has been sent to the members of the Laboratories Working Group to trial at their laboratories. The group are looking to discuss the outcomes of trialling this method at their next meeting.

The transition from BS1377 to BS EN17892 & BS EN 13286 (Earthworks testing)
Although a number of laboratories have now been granted accreditation to the BS EN methods, the industry outside of the laboratories seems very slow in the take up; i.e. not appearing in specification / testing instruction. The Laboratories Working Group are concerned about this and are trying to push out information to industry groups that BS1377 methods in their current form will soon be obsolete.

Increasing member participation
The core members of the Laboratories Working Group are all of the opinion that the participant numbers are far too low and attendance at the meetings rarely reaches double figures. It is essential for the future of this Working Group that numbers increase and that a broader (not just labs) attend these meetings to ensure the group are capturing the wider Geo-Environmental sector. The Laboratories Working Group are looking for new participants from AGS members who have a direct interest and influence on specifying / scheduling testing as well as AGS members with laboratories. The Laboratories Working Group are concerned that they are not getting a full picture of issues that AGS members are coming across and as such points of discussion and content of meetings can be limited.

If you do wish to join the AGS Laboratories Working Group, please contact the AGS Secretariat at ags@ags.org.uk.

Event

AGS Annual Conference 2020

AGS Annual Conference 2020
2020-04-0202nd Apr 2020
The National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham

The AGS are pleased to announce that their Annual Conference is taking place on Thursday 2nd April 2020 at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

This full day seminar will focus on the work and achievements of the AGS and see expert speakers present on geotechnical and geoenvironmental topics and summarise lessons learnt.

The full agenda and speakers will be confirmed in Autumn 2019. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

A limited number of delegates per AGS member company may attend the conference free of charge. The number of complimentary tickets provided are dependent on the number of practitioners in your company – please see Table on the registration form. Additional tickets may be purchased for £60 (plus VAT) per AGS Member. Non-members may attend for £120 (plus VAT).

Registration will start at 9:15am and the conference will finish at 16:00pm.

To confirm your attendance please complete the below registration form and return it to ags@ags.org.uk.

Book now >

SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES

The Annual Conference offers the following sponsorship packages (subject to availability). To book or if you have any questions please contact Joanna Franaszczuk on 0208 658 8212 or email ags@ags.org.uk

Platinum (AGS Member Rate: £1250 / Non-Member Rate: £1500)
Company logo on each attending delegates’ lanyard
Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
Entry for three delegates into the event
Company logo prominent in the reception area on your pull up banner
A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
Company logo and overview on the event programme
Company overview on the AGS website
Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page
Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page  

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

Diamond (AGS Member Rate: £1250 / Non-Member Rate: £1500)
Exclusive sponsorship of the catering with logo on menu
Board level Q&A in our AGS magazine on a thought leadership topic (4150 subscribers, 1pp)
Full page advert in AGS Magazine**
Entry for three delegates into the event
Company logo prominent in the reception area on your pull up banner
A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
Company logo and overview on the event programme
Company overview on the AGS website
Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS Twitter page
Three announcements of your company’s involvement on the AGS’ LinkedIn page  

*one package available
**terms and conditions apply

Gold (AGS Member Rate: £750 / Non-Member Rate: £1000)
Entry for two delegates into the event
A designated area to exhibit company initiatives, research and software. This exhibition space can also showcase marketing materials, literature and banners
Company logo on the event PowerPoint presentation holding slide
Company logo and overview on the event programme
Company overview on the AGS website
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Article Safety

Trial Pitting – Still Fit for Purpose?

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Trial pitting and trial trenching have long been a popular investigation tool within the geotechnical and geo-environmental industry. Trial pits and trial trenches are commonly specified in both geotechnical and geo-environmental investigations and are often a preferred investigative method to enable a rapid check of the condition of the ground. They permit examination of both horizontal and vertical faces exposed as the pit is advanced and also enable the collection of a wide variety of sample sizes and types. Trial pitting and trenching is commonly undertaken using a machine excavator, whether this be a backhoe excavator or a tracked 360 machine. For shallower excavations, or where trenches are required to provide more detailed interpretation of the stratigraphy or underground service identification and mapping, these are often undertaken by hand with or without machine assistance. Vac-Ex technology has also been used by the industry to excavate trial pits and trenches.

Trial pitting is seen as an economically advantageous investigation tool which enables a fair spread of exploratory points to be undertaken within a typical working day. In addition, trial pitting facilitates a wide variety of in-situ tests, for example Hand Shear Vanes, California Bearing Ratio (CBR) tests, Plate Load tests and Infiltration tests in accordance with Building Research Establishment (BRE) Digest 365 Publication (2016).

With a better awareness of health and safety risk within our industry over the past decade or so should we not, however, ask the question whether trial pitting is still fit for purpose and therefore should we strive for an alternative method?

Health & Safety law often uses the term, “so far as is reasonably practicable (SFARP)” forming the basis of any risk-based activity and as such must be used as a decision tool on the risk against the cost and availability of technology to control it.  The HSE, in investigation and prosecution, make a computation in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and compared with the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) on the other scale.  The legal test would be that measures which are disproportionate (or grossly disproportionate) would not be SFARP.

All trial pitting activities including site preparation, excavation, sampling, logging and backfilling must be planned and a suitable and sufficient site-specific risk assessment made, contributing then to a method statement. However, consider this: with the Work at Height Regulations (2005), any excavation which has the potential for a person to fall is classed as working from height and, therefore, requires measures to be put in place in accordance with a specified hierarchy (while considering “SFARP”) to comply. Whilst injury can be caused from a fall from any height, a trial pit which is excavated to depths often in excess of 3m can pose a significant risk of injury should an operative fall into the excavation.

Additionally, the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations (2015) were amended and now identify ground investigation as an integral part of the construction activities. Trial pitting as an activity is covered under Regulation 22 (Part 2) which states that Suitable and sufficient steps must be taken to prevent any person, work equipment, or any accumulation of material from falling into any excavation”.

Furthermore, Regulation 22 (Part 1) of the CDM Regulation states that “All practicable steps must be taken to prevent danger to any person, including, where necessary, the provision of supports or battering, to ensure that; no excavation or part of an excavation collapses; no material forming the walls or roof of, or adjacent to, any excavation is dislodged or falls; and no person is buried or trapped in an excavation by material which is dislodged or falls”.

Therefore, all excavations require an assessment to be made of the stability of the excavation prior to commencing the dig and during the dig. These risk assessments should consider factors such as influence of the excavation method, ground conditions, buried services, obstructions, groundwater level, water strikes, contamination etc. An initial risk assessment can be produced to reflect the general approach but inevitably the trial pitting supervisor/logger will need to carry out dynamic, sometimes called “point of work”, risk assessments and where these necessitate or identify significant changes to the risk or methodology it should be documented.

However, as trial pitting work is often undertaken by graduates or technicians, can employers be sure that these individuals possess the required knowledge, training and experience to meet sufficient competency requirements or have the ability to make these assessments and informed decisions?

When detailed logging (i.e. service identification, detailed fabric logging, scan lines or assessment of slip planes) is required, due consideration should be taken to the necessity of entering the trial pit/trench. Where the designer determines that entry is essential, the Contractor must ensure that the excavations are sufficiently shored or the excavation sides battered back or benched to reduce the height of exposed material and potential collapse. Due consideration should also be taken by the Client to allow sufficient time and resources (money) to develop this safe system of work, to carry out any additional training requirements and for the actual work. In addition, these type of trial pits should be located to provide sufficient working room for the plant which will be required for the installation and maintenance of the support system and spoil. As these types of works may be of a longer duration than typical trial pits, physical barriers such as fencing may be required which adds additional costs and time.

When trial pits are part of a more typical ground investigation and require standard logging, in-situ testing and sampling the designer and contractor should consider carefully whether any entry is required whatever the depth. The AGS promotes an approach which does not require entry and therefore, the risk of injury through collapse and subsequent burial is reduced. However, this does not eliminate totally the risk of working at height.

With trial pitting seen as a relatively quick and cost-effective method of ground investigation, the use of edge protection and trench support can be viewed as unrealistically costly and time consuming to install. Compliance with the hierarchy of controls within the Work at Height regulations might suggest to some employers that installation of edge protection or a suitable fall arrest system or other safe system of work, should be mandatory for all excavations. However, the main advantage of trial pitting is to provide a quick and easy way to view the stratigraphy and close up inspection of the pit is necessary to obtain the desired results. Judgements on the required controls under the Work at Height regulations are however to be determined “SFARP”.

The current AGS Guidance on safe excavation of trial pits suggests a number of control measures such as the supervisor/logger should approach and stand at the opposite narrow end of the open pit to the machine, , arisings should be placed a minimum of one metre from the pit edge, and other controls. However, the industry, and associated industries who undertake not dissimilar construction activities, can still not agree on the approach to controlling the risk of working at height when trial pitting or even whether it is a significant risk in the first place.

The principal arguments for the requirement to approach open pits is to observe the formation of the ground and groundwater in situ, accurately measure stratum boundaries, water strikes, final depth and to take photographs. The industry could for example re-evaluate the necessity for photographs and the way they are taken, and whether they are used as anything else but proof the pit was dug. The question could also be asked as to ‘how accurate is accurate’ with respect to depths and is there a safer way to obtain this information. Some excavators can now determine depth of dig whilst excavating and perhaps providing depth markers on the excavator arm may be another alternative.

Figure 1 – Typical example of a machine excavated trial pit where the pit is logged from samples only

Employers must also consider the risk of injury from contact with plant and machinery. It is essential that the supervisor maintains good communication (both verbally and using agreed hand signals) with the machine operator at all times. Supervisors should be aware of the danger areas (red and amber zones) around the excavation and always stand in the yellow zone to maintain a clear line of sight.

Figure 2 – An example of a safe working zone for mechanical excavation using a 3CX or 360 machine

It is not uncommon that the supervisor (often a graduate and in some cases with limited years of experience) will take on responsibilities for both the H&S and the technical goals of the trial pit investigation. In effect, they take on a role of supervisor, logger and banksman. In the construction industry, banksmen are operatives specifically trained to direct vehicle movement on or around site. How common is it that graduates or even experienced engineers are specifically trained in the role of a Banksman (or vehicle marshal), but are expected to fulfil such a role when directing plant and machinery around site. Therefore, the employer should provide training to allow the individual to carry out this role. This could be delivered through a formal Banksman course or might be better delivered as task specific in-house training which should include all aspects of safe trial pitting to help create competent people who can dynamically risk assess excavations.

But is trial pitting really or inherently a high-risk activity? Excavations are typically left open for only a very limited length of time and are backfilled as soon as the pit is completed in comparison to most construction industry excavations. In addition, there are no clear statistics from the HSE on injuries or fatalities from falls associated with trial pitting. These do occur in the wider construction industry, generally as a consequence of a collapse of the excavation which has been open for some length of time. As an industry we are all aware of the fatality to a Geologist in September 2008, however, statistics of injuries, accidents or near misses are not widely known and are often only communicated internally with site staff and not shared to the wider ground investigation community.

As an industry we must strive to continually improve the safety culture within ground investigation and trial pitting offers us all a chance to either look at current and future innovations to reduce the risk or find safer alternatives. There is a concern that if the industry does not obtain consensus that others may develop approaches which the industry may not find palatable both practically and commercially.

The current AGS document looks to provide practical guidance on trial pitting considering the current H&S guidance available, however, the Designer always has the choice to replace trial pits with boreholes or dynamic sampling holes which would, in many cases, provide similar design data.

The question remains, is trial pitting fit for purpose and the AGS would welcome views from the industry and will be sending out a short questionnaire to determine current industry practice and thoughts.

Article contributed by AGS Safety Working Group

Principal Authors – Adam Latimer, Ian Farmer Associates; Steve Everton, Jacobs and Julian Lovell, Equipe Group

 

 

Article

AGS Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference 2019 – Speaker Presentations

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The AGS Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference was held on 3rd July 2019 at One Moorgate Place in London.

Special thanks to the sponsors of the conference:
Envirolab, NHBC, Structural Soils, Bridgeway Consulting Ltd, Tensar, Geo-Integrity, Socotec, BAM Ritchies and Fugro.

Special thanks also to the speakers of the Conference. The Presentations from AGS Commercial Risk Conference (with approval from speakers) can be viewed below;

1. Reliance, Collateral Warranties and Limiting Liability – Zita Mansi, Beale & Company

2. The importance of definitions when agreeing scope and objectives – Hugh Mallett, BuroHappold

3. Fitness for purpose or reasonable skill and care – Rachel Griffiths, Fugro