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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 Make reference to the BS EN ISO 17892 series of Standards, instead of the superseded BS 1377 tests, where these have been published;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v. Remove references to withdrawn BS Standards, and replace with the current BS, EN or ISO Standards.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 |

Article Laboratories

GEOTECHNICAL LABORATORY TESTING TO BS EN ISO 17892: Briefing Note (updated December 2015)

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GEOTECHNICAL LABORATORY TESTING TO BS EN ISO 17892: Briefing Note (updated December 2015)

BSI recently published the first two Standards in the series BS EN ISO 17892 with a third standard to be published in the next few weeks. On the day they are published, they supersede the equivalent test methods in BS1377.  This note is intended to keep you updated on progress on further Standards in the series. The note will be updated regularly.


In 2004 CEN and ISO published 12 documents in the series EN ISO/TS 17892. These are Technical Specifications, not full Standards, and as such their use is not mandatory. In 2010 CEN and ISO agreed to upgrade these to full EN and ISO Standards.

With CEN leading, and with active ISO participation, CEN Technical Committee 341 (currently Chaired by the UK’s John Powell, and with BSI providing the Secretariat) appointed a Working Group (WG6, with the UK’s John Masters and then Roger Brown as Convenor, and Alastair McKenzie as Technical Editor) with a mandate to re-write the 12 TS documents so that they get wide-spread acceptance world-wide.


The WG has been working for several years, and has the target to complete all 12 by the end of 2017 ahead of a planned up-issue of Eurocode 7 (BS EN 1997-1 and BS EN 1997-2). The WG consists of technical experts from more than a dozen countries, who are working together to write the Standards encompassing good practice from around the World, using routinely available existing equipment.

Once the WG has produced an acceptable draft, it is put into the public domain for comments in a process called “Parallel Enquiry” (parallel because CEN and ISO run it in parallel, but independently). Draft Standards are in the public domain and available for comment for several months. The WG then gets the comments back to address, either to incorporate into the draft if they agree with them, or to give reasons not to if they disagree. Once the draft is revised, it then goes back to the CEN and ISO Member countries for Final Vote. If successful, CEN and ISO translate the Standard and publish simultaneously in English, French, German and Russian.

UK Implementation:

As members of CEN, the UK must adopt and publish the new Standard within 6 months of publication by CEN and ISO, and simultaneously must withdraw any existing conflicting National Standard. With the first two, BSI published them the same day as CEN and ISO.

Testing can continue to the equivalent BS1377 methods, for example if a contract with a client requires it, but if so, they will need to be reported as for example “BS1377-2, Clause 3.2 – Superseded”.

The list overleaf details the 12 Standards in preparation, and the current status of their progress towards publication.  Note that the final choice of which test procedures will be in the EN ISO Standard for permeability has not yet been confirmed. Other test methods might be added after these 12, but no decisions have been made yet on what tests these should be.

New Standard Test Superseded/will supersede Current Status Publication            
BS EN ISO 17892-1 Moisture/Water content BS1377-2, Sub-clause 3.2 Published 31/12/2014
BS EN ISO 17892-2 Bulk density BS1377-2, Sub-clauses 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4 Published 31/12/2014
BS EN ISO 17892-3 Particle density BS1377-2, Sub-cause 8.3 Approved for publication 15/01/2016 (1)
BS EN ISO 17892-4 Particle size distribution BS1377-2, Clause 9 At Formal Vote early 2016
BS EN ISO 17892-5 Incremental oedometer BS1377-5, Clause 3 Submitted for Formal Vote mid 2016
BS EN ISO 17892-6 Fall cone No BS equivalent Reviewing public comments mid 2016
BS EN ISO 17892-7 UCS test BS1377-7, Clause 5 Parallel Enquiry imminent (2) early 2017
BS EN ISO 17892-8 UU triaxial test BS1377-7, Clause 7 Parallel Enquiry imminent early 2017
BS EN ISO 17892-9 CID, CIU and CAU tests BS1377-8 (replaced in its entirety) Parallel Enquiry imminent early 2017
BS EN ISO 17892-10 Shear-box and ring-shear BS1377-7, Clauses 4, 5 and 6 Under revision in WG6 late 2017
BS EN ISO 17892-11 Permeability tests BS1377-5, Clause 5 and BS1377-6, Clause 5 Under revision in WG6 late 2017
BS EN ISO 17892-12 Plasticity Index tests BS1377-2, Clauses 4 and 5 Under revision in WG6 late 2017


  1. ISO (but not CEN or BS) published an incorrect version on 25/11/2015. The corrected version is due to be published 15/01/2016.
  2. “Imminent” means within the next few months

Future of BS1377:

Four clauses as noted above in BS1377-2:1990 have been withdrawn already. BS1377 will need substantial updating as a result of the publication of the above new Standards. However amendments to BS1377 will lag behind the publication of the replacements, so for example if you buy a copy of BS1377 today, the four withdrawn clauses will still be present. BSI is currently reviewing what will happen to BS1377 in the long run. The 12 new EN ISO Standards do not cover all tests currently in BS1377, so some of it will presumably need to remain in some form or other.

Differences to BS1377:

The EN ISO 17892 Standards contain a number of subtle differences to BS1377. Looking at Part 1 for example, the minimum masses for the water content test are different to BS1377 (although these now become recommended rather than mandatory) and there are minor reporting differences in the water content result (now required to be reported to one decimal place between 10% and 100% water content). And you will need to remember to now call it “water content” instead of “moisture content”!


UKAS are already assessing laboratories against the two new Standards for water content and bulk density. Laboratories with existing accreditation to the equivalent BS1377 method can convert their accreditation by a self-declaration, although not many have done so to date. Although the changes are subtle, labs will have to undertake a proper change-management process, including re-training of for the new methods.

UKAS currently believe this self-declaration mechanism should also be applicable to the further Standards as they are published for those labs already accredited to the equivalent BS1377 methods.

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.