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BSI published the sixth edition of BS 1377-1:2016 Methods of test for soils for civil engineering purposes – General requirements and sample preparation on 29 July 2016.
First published in 1948, and last updated to its fifth edition in 1990, some would say that an update to the Standard was long overdue, but the previous edition served the geotechnical laboratory testing community superbly well for over a quarter of a century.

The new edition begins the process of overhaul of BS 1377 as a result of “Eurocode 7”, and in particular the publication of the first of the new International Laboratory Testing Standards in the BS EN ISO 17892 series. Three have already been published, while a fourth is expected before the end of 2016 and there are another eight in the pipeline for 2017/2018.

The main changes to BS 1377-1 are:
i. Extend the calibration interval for balances from 6-monthly to annual (this alone should save most laboratories at least the cost of the new Standard in one year);
ii. Amend the requirements for calibration certificates to bring them into line with BS EN ISO 17025;
iii. Make reference to the BS EN ISO 17892 series of Standards, instead of the superseded BS 1377 tests, where these have been published;
iv. Refer to ‘water content’ instead of ‘moisture content’ (BS EN ISO 17892-1); and
v. Remove references to withdrawn BS Standards, and replace with the current BS, EN or ISO Standards.
The sixth edition is not a complete re-write, but it is an important stepping stone as more and more daughter-Standards from Eurocode 7 appear.
BS 1377-3: 1990, which is currently being rewritten, is the next scheduled revision.
Copies of BS 1377-1:2016 are available to purchase (hard or e-copy) from the BSI shop here.

Roger Brown
Associate Director – Laboratories
Fugro GeoConsulting Ltd
T +44 (0) 1491 820815 | M +44 (0) 782 783 9019 |

Report Laboratories

Laboratories Working Group Report

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John Powell, Chairman, Laboratories Working Group writes:

The meeting had 8 member attendees  and 7 apologies.

BSI Committee B/526/3

Revision of BS5930: Section 8- Laboratory Testing on Samples

The public consultation is now complete with around 1000 comments being received (many just editorial) with only about half a dozen of these being for the Labs section. Publication is anticipated later this year.

Future of BS 1377 and CEN TC 341 WG6

WG6 had progressed well –

  • Parts 1 (Water Content) and 2 (Density Tests) – both were published worldwide on 31/12/2014, in the UK as BS EN ISO 17892-1 and BS EN ISO 17892-2.
  • The corresponding parts of BS1377: Part 2 (Clauses 3.2 and 7 respectively) will be withdrawn by 30/06/2015. UKAS has issued a memo relating to these two tests. Labs that are accredited to the BS equivalents can have these added to their accreditation schedules by signing a self-declaration, rather than by application, fee and audit.
  • Parts 3 (Density of Solid Particles) and 4 (Particle Size Distribution) – are under final review taking into account public comments. It is expected they will be submitted for final formal vote within a month or so, and will be published around mid-year
  • Parts 5 (incremental oedometer) and 6 (fall cone) – are in public review now (BSI website until 18 April). Please take opportunity to comment.
  • Parts 7 (Unconfined Compression test on Fine Grained Soil), 8 (Unconsolidated Undrained Triaxial Test) & 9 (Consolidated Triaxial Compression Test on Water Saturated Soils) – are close to submission for public consultation, these are expected to be out during the second half of this year.
  • Parts 10 (Direct Sheer Test) & 11 (Determination of Permeability by Constant and Falling Head) and Part 12 (Determination of Atterberg Limits) – remain under review in WG6.

The AGS lab group are to considering if there any tests they would like to be standardised and brought to European level (and other AGS members are welcome to do the same via the Labs group).

An Introduction to Geotechnical Laboratory Testing for Routine Construction Projects

In reviewing the guide reference is made to “Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing” and the AGS Power Point presentation on “Ground Investigation Testing”. It was agreed that these also needed a detailed review.

The document “Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing” would need to be reviewed by a separate sub group of consultants and others and this would require approval from the Executive. John Powell agreed to raise it at the next Executive meeting on the 19th February 2015.

All to 3 documents to be reviewed together to ensure consistency.

Membership Drive for Laboratory Testing Organisations Only

John Powell announced the Executive had approved the proposed Laboratories Seminar. It was decided the seminar would be held in October, depending on venue availability and would be aimed towards clients and consultants educating them on what Laboratories can provide and the importance of sampling.

Proficiency testing

John Masters would be running a scheme in 2015. Test to be notified.


UKAS are reinstating the Construction Technical Committee and the AGS had been invited to contribute and has asked for volunteers. Kevyn Brooks advised he had been asked to be involved also and was happy to represent the AGS.