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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 Safety

Safety Group Report

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Julian Lovell, Chairman, AGS Safety Working Group writes:

Below is the latest report from our Safety Group which this quarter has been tackling issues on guidance, the new CDM regulations and collaboration with the British Drilling Association (BDA).

AGS Safety Guidance

The working group has been working consistently to progress the guidance available to the industry. Progress has been steady throughout the year. Most guidance goes through two if not three reviews which effectively means 3 to 6 months from initial draft and the most effective reviews are carried out by the committee either in a face to face meeting or on one occasion an on-line meeting.

Guidance which has been published since the last meeting:

  • Use of Scaffolding/Temporary Working Platform
  • Lifting Operations and Equipment used in Drilling Operations Guidance on CSCS Registration
  • Driving at Work

Guidance close to completion:

  • PPE
  • Manual Handling
  • Training and Competence
  • AGS Health and Safety Training Standards Health Surveillance


Currently all published guidance is freely available from the AGS website. The SWG has discussed this matter and believes that all of the safety guidance should be freely available in front of the member’s portal.

Where individual guidance links together we would like hyperlinks so that you can move between them. This should be part of the new website functionality specification. The web pages should have photographs and images and not just a list of links to guidance. The guidance will also be split into sections to try to make it easier to find what you want. Currently, we are waiting for the development of standard templates before we can provide further input to the new section within the new website.


The BDA has completed a new version of its Safety Manual and this is likely to be available digitally in the next month or so. Currently, they are deciding how and who it is distributed to but it is likely to be free to members. Unsure if it will be sold on the wider market.

There have also been ongoing discussions between the BDA and AGS regarding a closer working relationship. The AGS SWG has discussed on numerous occasions how much of an overlap there is and has offered to set up a joint working group. The BDA have reported back that they initially want to establish their own safety committee which has not met for over 12 months. They will then re-visit the idea of working with the AGS.

BDA have agreed to sponsor a session at Geotechnica which will be a Health and Safety session.

The BDA also spoke to the SWG about the BDA Audit. This scheme has been brought in to allow companies to assess the ongoing competence of the drill crews and to comply with BS 22475: Part 2. The auditee has to have already achieved the Land Drilling NVQ but this will look more closely in to how the driller is operating on site and complying with legislation, guidance and good practice. The BDA Training and Education Committee is currently working with Equipe to strengthen the Audit so that it requires the auditee to be able to prove a high standard of knowledge and application of both quality and safety. It is hoped that this will be linked in to the work to improve the current Land Drilling NVQs and in time to develop a Level 3 Advanced Lead Driller qualification.

Safety awareness and CSCS

The CSCS have been advised by the construction industry that there are too many loopholes in the CSCS card scheme. The CSCS card should represent the work activity being performed on site by that individual. The current clamp down has seen the requirement to attend a one day approved Health, Safety and Environmental awareness course if a GREEN labourer’s card is required. This is in addition to the CSCS touch screen test. Whilst this sounds initially like a good initiative to reduce the number of generic cards and promote training there are concerns. The concerns are that

  • it may lead to similar generic cards such as the WHITE Construction Related Operatives (CRO) card requiring something similar or being withdrawn
  • the promotion of generic Health and Safety training.
    The CRO card is commonly used across the geotechnical industry under the title Ground Specialist.New Standards BS EN 16228 – Drilling and foundation equipment.The new standard is seen to be the European wide requirements for rig guarding but they are actually a lot more detailed and cover all safety aspects of operating drilling equipment across sectors and rig types. Most organisations have still not looked to see if changes to UK practice or obligations on rig users or manufacturers has changed. AGS has told BDA that as the trade body for drilling they should be advising industry on these matters. One AGS member believes that it downgrades the importance of guarding in reference to trapping distances. There will undoubtedly be other areas which need to be considered. The BS was live from the end of October 2014.

    Construction Design and Management Regulations, 2015

    The changes to the CDM regulations was discussed, majority of the group felt more responsibility had been passed onto the client and they would now have to consider risk as well as the cost of the project. Julian Lovell noted the HSE encourages industry interpretation, and thought it was important guidance was produced to reflect the industry. The group agreed and recognised the re-education of clients would be the hardest transition. It was agreed joint industry guidance with the BDA and the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) would be ideal. Julian, Madeleine Bardsley, Adam Latimer and Jon Rayner agreed to contribute to the joint industry guidance on behalf of the AGS. Ann-Marie Casserly raised the proposal at the FPS Safety & Training meeting and Julian contacted BDA. Currently all parties agree that it would be a good initiative but neither FPS nor BDA could provide time or resources at the moment.

    Equipe are currently arranging a FREE one day seminar/discussion forum for Health and Safety in the geotechnical industry on 4th March at their training rooms near Banbury. The day is aimed to open up debate on HS&E matters including:

  • How the industry should adopt and interpret the requirements of CDM 2015
    • Can we educate the client?
    • Can CDMCs become Principal Designers?
    • Can the industry cope with the increased demand to act as Principal Contractor?
  • Will it increase resources and costs to complete CDM jobs?
  • Why companies might consider Health Surveillance

Safety Alerts

The Safety Working Group would like to receive copies of safety alerts relevant to member’s activities so that lessons can be learnt. The most valuable messages often come from Near Misses and it is hoped that we can start a regular item in the newsletter but we have to have items sent from the membership.

Article Business Practice

Eurocode Readers Question

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Tags: EC7 standards

AGS Comment on Geotechnical Sampling to Eurocode 7
In the September 2011 issue of the AGS Newsletter “ Advice to AGS Members on Geotechnical Sampling in Relation to Eurocodes” makes no reference to the paper “Ground Investigation and Eurocode 7: A Scottish Perspective” (Ground Engineering Magazine, July 2011, pg26-31) relating to the difficulty in obtaining Class I samples from stony glacial till.  I presume that the guidance note was issued without the knowledge of this paper.  I would seek your comments on the above given the position statement now issued to members of the AGS.

As regards section 4.0 of the guidance note I would draw your attention to the contents of the paper which essentially demonstrates that some amendments to BS EN ISO 22745-1 are necessary and best achieved through open dialogue as opposed to proving the point in any court action. Dr J Taylor, Geotechnical Engineer.

The advice note that appeared in the September edition of the AGS newsletter was intended to convey the fact that both EC7 and its supporting documents could, in relation to geotechnical sampling, be used in the UK by the geotechnical industry. In preparing the advice note, the authors deliberately referenced the available published guidance on EC7 so that readers had additional material to which to refer.
Ever since the introduction of EC7, and more particularly BS EN ISO 2245-1 (the latter which was published in 2006), certain proactive elements of the UK geotechnical community have recognised the need to integrate the ‘new’ standards into the site investigation industry. That is not to say that some errors and contradictions haven’t been identified in the standards. Indeed these have been well documented and are available elsewhere for reference.
The standards are, however here and for the time being the UK geotechnical industry needs to make use of them. EC7 and BS EN ISO 22475-1 provide plenty of scope for the site investigation designer to choose sampling and / or in situ testing techniques appropriate to the diverse range of material types that occur in the UK. EC7 even allows the geotechnical specialist to use ‘local knowledge’ as a ‘trump card’ if they believe that this is more reliable than trying to obtain samples in particular classes.

It has long been recognised that there are both soil and rock types within the UK that present a challenge with regard to sampling and in situ testing. These material types have always been present and obviously predate the introduction of Eurocodes. Such challenging materials have always required the site investigation designer to think about the most appropriate methods of obtaining deign parameters; but as Baldwin and Gosling pointed out in their article in Ground Engineering in 2009, this was often not done. With the advent of Eurocodes the designer is forced to think about how best to obtain design parameters and record the rationale for the method(s) adopted. This should be seen as a step in the right direction as far as quality is concerned.
For those in the industry who believe that changes need to be made to the Eurocode documents used in the UK, there are mechanisms for their voices to be heard. Constructive comments can be directed to the appropriate UK standards committee who are tasked with relaying comments made by industry in the UK to the European central committee tasked with producing the first revision / update of EC7 and 22475-1 etc.

Professionals working in the UK geotechnical industry can endlessly debate the merits of Eurocodes for use in the UK. This, however, will not change the content of EC7 et al. The most effective way to get documents improved is to collate constructive comments with the UK standards committee and then let them represent the UK. A collective voice will carry far more weight than individual comments that are lost in the ‘ether’ of local debate.

The AGS is willing to act as a recipient for comments that members may wish to make in relation to EC7 and other supporting documents. Such comments can be as general or specific as members wish, but must be constructive since the basis for discussion is the fact that these standards are in force and can only be modified with good reason.
C Danilewicz- Halcrow and M Baldwin- Soil Engineering