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 Data Management

What could training do for your company?

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Whether you want to improve your relationship with a client, find ways of reducing the cost of your Professional Indemnity, retain your present staff or even sharpen your company profile, training is a valuable and cost-effective resource.

Why is training of value?

The answer is, because “knowledge” brings opportunities to your company and rewards to your personnel.

Awareness: A trained person can take advantage of an opportunity they recognise, as and when it occurs. This is most clearly seen in drilling, logging, sampling, description and testing. The member of staff who senses that something “is not right” or “does not add up” or is “something you ought to know” can save you time, money and reputation: and not only you. To offer your clients a service that is staffed by “eyes” and “brains” presents them with a sensible way to cut costs as an alternative to rigid, inadequate, GI born of their unhappy experience. Here is a real way to improve effectiveness. Value for money arising from trust in good work can become the basis for commercial flexibility: a point of relevance to your insurer. The training now available provides employers with practical and authoritative guidance for their staff, who may have come into this industry from a variety of backgrounds – not all of them geotechnical.

Integration: Knowledge enables separate pieces of data to be combined, so that the activities which generate them lead towards a whole – in this case, the geological, geotechnical and geoenvironmental model of the ground. Staff who know how their data fits together form a team that enables these models to be created. Without them the data can remain as data and never inform those who need to know.

Reward: Many managers of today had their university fees paid and have been able to convert the knowledge they gained into a career that supports a comfortable standard of living. Many younger staff have been denied this and are being denied this. Training is therefore a real reward for staff who need it. It is worth more than cash to them because they, like you, can convert it into a standard of living. Even if they leave for a better paid job sometime after the training you have provided, is that a good reason for keeping them ignorant? Is your company the better for their ignorance? And would you be so concerned if someone trained by a competitor could be found?

Recruitment: Is this a time  you realise you are on your own? The employment agency is incompetent, your competitors are chiselling crooks, you cannot turn the work around and could lose that client? You could have avoided the worst of this by training the staff you have; how much easier life would be if they could cope with more than the tasks for which they were recruited. Perhaps there was neither the time nor the resources for you to do this – but if there had been, would you have taken advantage of it? Would you have trained your company so that it could cope with fluctuating work loads and times of staff shortage? Would you appreciate being able to recruit someone with a recognisable level of practical training, and immediately useable skills, and not just have to rely on “x-years experience” with someone else?

If the answer to any of these issues has been “yes” then training has something very real and positive to offer you.

But when could you take advantage of this?

Training is happening now

There was a time when most companies did train their staff; some still do but they are a minority. The culture has gone and Business Management theory is firmly to blame. Cutting training was an easy economy to make at the time.there was a pool of trained staff.”use those trained by others.besides it opens up mobility in the market place and tests their market value.” Well, where are the Business Managers now we are in trouble? The common sense culture of investment in training needs to be re-established

Training is now available across the entire range of competences within the industry – but it is early days. Information on this can be found on the home page of the AGS web site ( look under Training and see also the Members Day 2006 Report).

Training is dynamic and flexible.   The provision being created now and described in the Members Day Report of 2006, can respond to your needs, but first depends upon you appreciating that it is there and can be used to your benefit. As you read this there could be a member of your staff “picking it up as they go along” from someone who does not understand “it” either.a time bomb of false economy waiting to damage your company.

How has this happened?

For training to exist three requirements must be met:

  1. there has to be a provider,
  2. it has to be financially affordable, and
  3. there has to be some reward in return.

First Steps initiated training with its course on Soil and Rock Description for BS 5930 – provided by Emerson and Moore and popular since the day it started. From this start other courses have followed and a full list of these can be found on click on “Courses and Training”. These courses are hands-on practical training where at least 50% of the course time involves the trainee actually learning a practical skill. Readers will note that the Geotechnics Section at the BRE is now involved.

First Steps and BRE are now providers for our industry across the complete range of competences. The opportunity now exists for you to improve your company through training. If your company needs training that is not currently provided, or wishes to give a course not commonly given, then contact Christine Butenuth to arrange it. First Steps and BRE are not only providers of their own training but a vehicle for training provided by others; the AGS is providing one of its own courses through this training vehicle (The generation of Information from AGS formatted electronic data to be organised by Steve Walthall).  Costs have deliberately been set to remain affordable but this is an issue that could become a problem: training will only remain affordable if sufficient members come forward to be trained: the demand is there and the supply also – what needs to develop is the habit of training.

The rewards for training have to be both corporate and personal: corporate benefits have already been outlined. Personal benefits are essential and start with a certificate that is worth more than the paper on which it is printed. First Steps and BRE have asked the AGS and GF to approve courses of training and certificate them, so that those attending have a document that is “currency” recognised by other employers within geotechnics: in this the AGS certificate will differ from the usual CPD which can be allocated to almost any course regardless of its value. Progress with this is underway thanks to Jonathan Gammon in his capacity as Chairman of the Business Practice Working Group and Leonard Threadgold in his capacity as champion for Training.

Too good to be true?

It could be if too few members come forward for training. The present arrangements must be sustainable. In general it costs £250 to train one person per day (the cost of a few determinations of PI or a couple of metres of core) and the arrangements described need in the region of 300 people a year. Three people from one hundred companies a year. It sounds reasonable but only you can make it so.  Think of the benefits!

Michael de Freitas, Christine Butenuth, Hilary Skinner (First Steps)  


Article Data Management

AGS training takes First Steps

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The AGS welcomes the BRE and First Steps initiative and look forward to working with them to develop courses relevant and useful to Members.

The Data Format WG are the first to seize the opportunity and are already working with First Steps to develop a course on electronic data (non software specific) aimed particularly at new users.  The WG will provide the content and speakers and the first course will run in October.

Companies with a training need are invited to contact First Steps to discuss their requirements.

While the AGS is pleased about this development, and will co-operate to assist Members, the relationship with First Steps is not exclusive.  The Business Practice WG has taken on responsibility for training in general and will be happy to work with other training providers to cater for Members’ interests.