Article Report Instrumentation & Monitoring

AGS Instrumentation & Monitoring WG – Update

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Jonathan Gammon, Leader of the AGS Instrumentation & Monitoring Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the AGS I&MWG discussed at their last meeting which took place virtually on 16th September 2020.

Critical Links in Ground Engineering Webinar

The I&MWG’s webinar on Critical Links in Ground Engineering is taking place on Wednesday 4th November 2020 at 10am. The four-hour webinar includes presentations from Jonathan Gammon, Philip Child, Paul Burton, Dr Andrew Ridley and Julian Lovell. Further details about the webinar can be found on the AGS website.

Assisting with the AGS Procurement of Ground Investigation Initiative

The I&MWG are currently providing feedback on the Yellow Book extracts and will prepare a proposed rewrite of these sections for the Procurement of Ground Investigation Working Group to review at their next meeting. The I&MWG have also been asked to give examples of their experience of using NEC Forms of Contract for Ground Investigation and to provide feedback regarding procurement processes.

Developing a link with the Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum (GAOF)

The I&MWG are looking to develop a link with the Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum (GAOF). A request has been received for the I&MWG to give a presentation to a future meeting of the Geotechnical Asset Owners Forum, with a view to active participation in the work of GAOF and also GAOF having representation on the I&MWG.

Article Report Loss Prevention

AGS Loss Prevention WG – Update

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Hugh Mallett, AGS Loss Prevention Working Group Leader, has provided an overview on the groups top three items which were discussed at a virtual meeting on 8th September 2020.

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE – COST AND OTHER ASPECTS

 The availability and cost of Professional Indemnity insurance is a topic which is extremely important to all AGS member companies and practitioners.  The market has become much harder over the last couple of years and good practice advice would be useful for members in preparing for discussions with their insurers.

In response, information on the difficult PI market will be provided in due course. The Loss Prevention Working Group are also looking to provide some good practice advice on: (i) managing your PI policy and (ii) issues for retired members.

 COAL AUTHORITY – POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND UNFAIR COMPETITION

 The Loss Prevention Working Group have drafted an article, (which is published in this issue of AGS Magazine), summarising the experience of some AGS members with regards to the Coal Authority.

In summary, concerns have been raised regarding the Coal Authority and Coal Mining Risk Assessments (CMRAs) due to the Coal Authority both:

  1. acting as a Statutory Consultee for planning applications (in relevant areas) and thus providing related guidance for developers and
  2. undertaking CMRAs on behalf of third parties as a commercial service.

The Loss Prevention Working Group have made initial enquiries with a lawyer and obtained advice on competition law.

 Currently it is not clear whether the issues raised regarding the Coal Authority are “one-off” or localised.  It appears that there may be aspects of Competition Law which may be of more general relevance.  The request for information in the magazine article will help determine the need for and direction of any next steps.

 LEGAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH AGS DIGITAL DATA

 Position Paper is being prepared by Beale & Co with the aim of clarifying the legal issue associated with the “ownership of data”.  If appropriate a Client Guide may then be prepared.

A paper previously presented at the AGS Annual Conference raised concerns regarding the legal issues of the ownership of data.  Potential solutions have been discussed since then, but the legal position is still to be clarified.  The forthcoming Note from Beale & Co will aim to provide this clarity.

Article Report Safety

AGS Safety WG – Update

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Roseanna Bloxham, AGS Safety Working Group Leader, has provided an update from the Groups most recent meeting, which was held virtually on 20th May. Here is an overview on the top topics which are currently in discussion:

COVID-19 SAFE WORKING PRACTICES ON SITE
Version 1 of our guidance document on safe working practices was released in May 2020. This is an active working document and will be updated and re-released as government guidelines change and new industry processes are developed.

The group have worked hard to produce this guidance quickly in light of the COVID-19 crisis with the outside assistance of Paul Nathanial. I am extremely grateful for all the hard work they have put in, but we understand it is work in progress.

COVID-19 was a new risk to the industry meaning there was little guidance on how we should continue to work. The AGS Safety Working Group felt it was important to aid their members at this time by producing an outline document that shares ideas for measures which could be introduced.

COVID-19 is likely to have an ongoing impact to the industry as a whole. At present it is unclear how large this impact will be and how long it will last. The main focus of the Safety Working Group is to provide our members with guidance and information to help keep them working and safe during this time.

If any readers of AGS Magazine have any comments or thoughts for future versions of this guide, please do send comments across to ags@ags.org.uk for consideration.

TRIAL PITTING
Trial pitting is currently an ongoing discussion for the group. There are a number of guidance documents associated with trial pitting within the industry with conflicting views. In addition, the questionnaire sent out by Steve Everton in October 2019 highlighted that there are discrepancies within companies regarding safety when trial pitting, and no obvious quick and easy solutions. Given the scale of the topic a separate sub-group has been formed to tackle the issues in greater detail. The initial aim of the group is to review existing AGS guidance associated with trial pitting.

Safety surrounding trial pitting is complex, whilst this process of investigation has been around for decades with little evidence of falls into pits, there is a big ‘what if’ hanging over the process. The AGS Safety Working Group feel it is important to investigate potential ways to target this ‘what if’ to pre-empt and prevent harm to their members.

GENERAL OVERHAUL OF AGS EXISTING GUIDANCE
It has been noticed by the group that a number of guidance documents on the AGS website are over 6 years old and may have been overlooked. The group has decided to put a focus on reviewing these older documents and either bring them up to date in line with current guidance or re-write them and withdraw as necessary.

ADDITIONAL TOPICS
In addition to the topics mentioned above, the Safety Working Group hold regular, ongoing discussions related to mental health and undergraduate involvement and training.

Article Report Contaminated Land

AGS Contaminated Land WG Update

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Vivien Dent, AGS Contaminated Land Working Group Leader, has provided an update from the Groups most recent meeting, which was held virtually on 28th April. Here is an overview on the top topics which are currently in discussion:

AGS GUIDE TO ASBESTOS

We’re currently in the final stages of reviewing the AGS Guide to Asbestos, and are close to completion. The guide will be published on the AGS website in due course.

GRADUATE KEY READING LIST

The Contaminated Land Working Group have decided to create a key reading document. This will be primarily aimed at graduates or those new to the industry, and will feature a reading list of key documents across all areas to educate and guide individuals who are new to the field.

We’re keen to engage with graduates and early career professionals, so this working group task is specific for this new generation of geo-environmentalists.

UKAS INSPECTION BODIES SURVEYING CONTAMINATED LAND FOR THE PRESENCE OF ASBESTOS

UKAS plans to establish a pilot programme for the development of ISO/IEC 17020:2012 accreditation for the inspection of land for the presence of asbestos.

The AGS CLWG have concerns that the scheme has not considered broader land contamination issues and that people who are unqualified will attempt to do the role of a contaminated land engineer. Whilst an asbestos surveyor might be qualified to look into asbestos, it’s unlikely that they’ll understand all documentation and the processes for all contaminants.

Naturally we don’t want there to be a situation where projects are required to have both an asbestos surveyor and a contaminated land surveyor. This would be an additional project expense and create additional work and expense for the client.

WORKING OUTSIDE OF THE AGS

The AGS Contaminated Land Working Group have many members who are involved in a range of different projects and working groups; SAGTA C4SL project, the National Brownfield Forum, SiLC, SoBRA and more. This enables us to share new information within the Group but also relay the position of the AGS CLWG outside of the organisation.

Article Report Geotechnical

AGS Geotechnical Working Group Update

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Stephen West, Leader of the AGS Geotechnical Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the AGS Geotechnical Working Group discussed at their last meeting which took place on 20th February 2020.

1. What are the top three issues in your Working Group at present?
• Issue 1: Improving soil and rock sampling quality for use in design
• Issue 2: Consideration of embodied carbon in design decision making
• Issue 3: Skill set of newly graduated entrants into the industry, reduction in numbers coming into UK universities studying geo-science subjects

2. What is the status of these issues within your Working Group?
• Issue 1: Sub-group producing a counter piece to article in last month’s AGS magazine
• Issue 2: Organisation of conference for 2021
• Issue 3: Drafting of poll for AGS members, engagement with key universities and STEM organisations

3. Why are these issues important to the AGS?
Delivery of technical excellence for clients and reduction in risk to clients and stakeholders. Contribution to UK Net zero carbon agenda, helping AGS members with carbon consideration for clients

4. What impact do these issues have on Members of the AGS?

Additional cost due to re-work, risk of PI related disputes with clients

5. What should the AGS do about these issues?

Provide forum for discussion within the AGS – conferences and webinars, liaise with fellow institutions to engage with UK Government

Article Report Business Practice

AGS Business Practice Working Group Update

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Sally Hudson, AGS Chair Elect and Leader of the AGS Business Practice Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the AGS Business Practice Working Group discussed at their last meeting which took place on 11th February 2020.

Promoting and Enhancing Quality and Safe Practice within the Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Industry

The AGS continues to promote and enhance quality and safe practice within the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry. To increase awareness, it is our goal to increase AGS membership as widely as possible throughout the industry. The BPWG is working on updating the AGS Business Plan and is monitoring the services and benefits of the Association to ensure that members best interests are represented.

Updating AGS Publications

Some Client Guides and other publications are becoming out of date and so the BPWG is driving a programme of identifying and amending key publications. Although some recent updates have been published, such as the Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing guidance, the BPWG are working with the other Working Groups to continue this effort, starting with some of the most popular documents such as the Client’s Guide to Site Investigations. We are also continuously monitoring our website data to assess publication popularity.

New AGS Client Guides

It can be difficult for our clients to know what the geo-professional qualifications and designations mean and how they fulfil their requirements and what value they offer. The BPWG has instigated preparation of two Client Guides to summarise the meaning of geo-professional affiliations. We have produced two draft documents, which are at review stage, one each to cover geo-environmental and geotechnical professionals. We will promote the new guidance within the AGS magazine once available to members.

As a trade body dedicated to promoting best practice within the industry, we need to ensure that the advice we provide to our members is as current and accurate as possible and reaches as wide an audience as practicable.

We are always keen to welcome new members into the BPWG and so for those interested in the governance of the AGS and wish to know how you can contribute to the BPWG, please contact the AGS Secretariat at ags@ags.org.uk.

 

Article Report Data Management

AGS Data Management Working Group Update

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Jackie Bland, Leader of the Data Management Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Data Management Working Group discussed at their last meeting which took place on 18th September 2019.

Release of AGS4.1
The Data Management Working Group are in the process of working on AGS4.1 which is due to be released at the AGS Data Format Conference in 2020. As standards are changing, the group need to ensure that all data can be transferred between relevant parties. We also need to be aware that perhaps different methodologies may be required in future for transferring this data. The update to AGS4.1 is important to members of the AGS because frustratingly large costs can be incurred in bespoke system design where there are no appropriate or specific locations within the format to store the data. It’s preferable that everyone follows a standard within the industry and therefore the same update can be applied to all software packages capable of receiving or producing AGS digital data.

Release of AGSi
AGSi is almost ready for beta publication in 2020. AGSi has been developed by the Data Management Working Group over the last few years. It provides the ability to move the ground model in a structured way between parties and will hopefully reduce the meetings, sheets of paper and the requirement for the same software package. This also continues our groups’ desire to continue to be truly be software agnostic or software independent.

The AGS Data Format Conference 2020
The Data Management Working Group are in the early stages of organising the AGS Data Format Conference 2020 which will be taking place on Wednesday 23rd September 2020 and will be returning to the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. Sponsorship opportunities for the conference are already available and make sure to keep an eye out for future issue of the AGS Magazine and on the AGS website for registration details and speaker line-up.

Registered Users of Data Format
There are now 87 registered companies of AGS Data Format. As a reminder, it is now a requirement to be a registered user of AGS Data Format if your company supplies or receives AGS Data. Also, we ask that, if you are a consumer of AGS data, you check that any company supplying you with AGS data is shown on the list of registered users. To register as a Data Format user, email ags@ags.org.uk for further information.

Article Report Loss Prevention

AGS Loss Prevention Working Group Update

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Hugh Mallett, Leader of the Loss Prevention Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Loss Prevention Working Group discussed at a recent meeting which took place in September 2019.

Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conferences

The first AGS Commercial Risks and How to Manage Them Conference took place on 3rd July at One Moorgate Place in London. Due to the success of the half-day conference, the conference is being repeated in Manchester on Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at the Manchester Conference Centre. The CPD conference is aimed at both junior and experienced ground engineers, who are interested in improving their knowledge and skills within this sector. For information on speaker line-up, sponsorship packages and ticket prices, please visit the AGS website.

PI Insurance Premiums

There are concerns within the Loss Prevention Working Group regarding the significant increase of PI insurance premiums in the last year. This issue is confirmed to be commercially driven, rather than risk driven. However, the group are looking to discuss this issue further and draft an article on the topic to advise AGS members.

AGS Data Format

There is an ongoing discussion between the AGS Loss Prevention Working Group and the AGS Data Management Working Group about the issue regarding ownership of AGS Data. The issue first arose at the AGS Members’ Day in 2018 following a presentation given and the two groups are still looking for a conclusion to the issue. Once the issue has been concluded, the AGS will look to push out the information to the AGS members.

New Leader for 2020

After becoming the Leader of the Loss Prevention Working Group in 2014, Hugh Mallett has decided to step down from the role in 2020. Therefore, the role will be up for election next year and further details will be circulated in early 2020. If you are interested in the role, but have any questions, please contact ags@ags.org.uk.

Alternatively, if you wish to join the AGS Loss Prevention Working Group, please contact the AGS Secretariat at ags@ags.org.uk.

Article Report Laboratories

AGS Laboratories Working Group Update

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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.

Article Report Contaminated Land

AGS Contaminated Land Working Group Update

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Vivien Dent of RSK, the leader of the Contaminated Land Working Group, has provided an update on the top issues the Contaminated Land Working Group discussed in their recent meeting which took place in May 2019.

Updating the AGS Asbestos in Ground Investigation Guidance
This document was issued as interim guidance in February 2013. Since this time, there have been several publications and guidance documents published. The guidance is therefore possibly out of date and is being revised. The aim of the guidance is for people to know how to work safely when they encounter asbestos. The AGS Asbestos in Ground Investigation Guidance is currently in final draft and is being peer reviewed by the AGS Contaminated Land WG, along with the AGS Safety WG and AGS Laboratories WG.

AGS Guidelines to Good Practice in Geoenvironmental Ground Investigation
An opinion piece by Chris Swainston of Soils Limited on AGS Guidelines to Ground Practice in Geoenvironmental Ground Investigation was featured in the May 2019 issue of the AGS Magazine and can be viewed on the AGS website. The Contaminated Land WG are considering the possibility of creating a ‘road map’ of documents. The AGS aim to promote good practice – as Chris mentioned in his article – if you stacked the relevant documents on top of each other, the guidance alone would probably reach to your waist. As there is so much information out there – how do you know what is relevant? It is important that AGS members know which guidance to follow and where to find the guidance.

ERES Code Review
A working group has been established to review ERES Codes. The ERES Codes are being reviewed as it is important to have consistent data. For example, so there are not two or more codes for the same determinant.

Next CLWG Meeting
In their next meeting, which is taking place in July, the Contaminated Land Working Group will be looking at the Environment Agency’s online guidance; Land Contamination: Risk Management (LCRM) which is an update to the Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR11), with the aim of providing feedback to the Environment Agency on behalf of the AGS.
Feedback on issues

The Contaminated Land Working Group would like AGS members to feedback to the group about any issues they are struggling with and if there are any issues which they would like to group to investigate. If you do have any issues for the Contaminated Land Working Group to discuss, please email ags@ags.org.uk.

Article Report 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!”.

Article Report Safety

AGS Safety Working Group Update

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The first AGS Safety Working Group meeting of 2019 took place on Wednesday 23rd January 2019 and the Leader of the AGS Safety Working Group, Adam Latimer of Ian Farmer Associates, has provided an update on the top issues the Safety Working Group are currently discussing.

AGS Health & Safety Conference – 21st November 2019

The AGS will be holding a conference on Health, Safety & Environmental topics on 21st November 2019 at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham. The conference will include key note speakers and break-out workshops. The speaker line-up will be announced in the AGS Magazine and on the AGS website in due course. Details of the sponsorship packages can be viewed on the AGS website.

New and Updated Health and Safety Guidance

The Safety Working Group have recently published a number of guidance documents including Guidance on Slope Climbing Rigs, Manual Handling and Unexploded Ordnance. The Safety Working Group are also progressing with guidance documents on track mats and tracked plant, the H&S Risk Assessment for Ground Investigation and minimum levels of training and competence. There are plans to develop a range of topics centred around health and well-being. The creation of bespoke and clear guidance for ground engineers is a key aim of the Safety Working Group. H&S legislation can be a mine field to navigate and these concise and succinct publications offer some clarity for our members. Compliance with Health & Safety legislation is of critical importance in everything our members do and as such the AGS offers our members free and unbiased guidance on the main issues affecting our industry. AGS Guidance can be downloaded from the AGS website.

AGS Safety Articles

The AGS Safety Working Group are working to produce a number of articles on trial pitting, PAS 128 (now published), track plant, occupational health and heat stress for future issues of the AGS Magazine. Despite the guidance being free to download from the website, the AGS magazine offers an invaluable mechanism to promote the work of the AGS SWG and provide the guidance to a wider audience. The AGS is always looking at ways to raise awareness within our industry and up-to-date guidance and magazine articles are an excellent vehicle to convey our message. The AGS continues to work collaboratively with all our members and other trade association groups to improve our industry.

Possibility of a Health, Safety and Environment Awareness Workshop to Undergraduates

The AGS Safety Working Group are in the early stages of investigating the possibility of a Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness Workshop to Undergraduates. Work is ongoing to establish the current level of understanding on university geosciences courses and whether a workshop would be beneficial.

Feedback

The Safety Working Group always welcomes new members and any feedback from the membership on hot topics that they wish to raise and encourage, any near misses and incidents to be shared to the wider industry, so we can strive to making our industry safer. Please send any feedback to ags@ags.org.uk.