Updates to BS 5930 Code of Practice

In June 2020, the British Standards Institution (BSI) published the latest edition of its BS 5930 Code of practice for ground investigations. The amended standard, referred to as BS 5930:2015+A1: 2020, comprises a series of changes which, while minor, are nonetheless important for industry professionals to comply with in their day-to-day work.

What is the BS 5930 Code of practice?

BS 5930 Code of practice for ground investigations has been the industry bible for the last 40 years since its first publication back in 1981 (and even earlier origins as CP2001 in 1957). Although formally a code of practice, it is recognised as the standard for undertaking effective ground investigation (GI), and together with BS 1377 Methods of Test for Soils for Civil Engineering Purposes, the two documents defined the working practices for GI for many years.

BS 5930 provides valuable information on how to assess the suitability of sites for construction operations and civil engineering works. It also offers best practice recommendations on gathering the right information on site features that may affect the design and construction of the works and the safety of any neighbouring land and property.   In line with BSI practice, the standard is reviewed every five years by a technical committee of geotechnical engineers, geologists and geoenvironmental specialists, and updated as required.

BS 5930 has developed over the years to include newer and evolving investigative technologies such as geophysical field testing, digital data capture and the increasing geoenvironmental aspects of GI, addressing potential contamination of brownfield sites. In parallel, the UK’s adoption of international and European standards and the need to maintain compliance with these has necessitated changes to existing standards, together with the publication of many new standards covering methods previously included within BS 5930 and BS 1377, for example.

What are the updates to the BS 5930 Code of practice?

  • Update to ground investigation and geotechnical design in accordance with the latest BS EN ISO test standards
  • Update to the description of soils and rocks encountered during ground investigation work in accordance with BS EN ISO 14688 and 14689 standards (2018)
  • Further implementation into the UK practice of BS EN 1997-1 and BS EN 1997-2 and the need to conform to these standards through desk study and site reconnaissance
  • New information on geophysical surveying and ground testing
  • Updated guidance on ground investigations on contaminated ground
  • Update to accommodate changes in BS EN ISO 17892 standards and related BS 1377 parts.

What are the benefits of adhering to BS 5930 Code of practice?

By operating in accordance with BS 5930, those working in the ground investigation and geotechnical sectors in the UK will be compliant with the current BS EN ISO test standards. Adopting BS 5930 across the entire supply chain will ensure that clients achieve the best possible results for their ground investigation works in terms of efficiency, minimising geohazard risks and reducing delays and cost overruns.

Familiarity with BS 5930 will enhance the GI practitioner's understanding of the appropriate approaches used to carry out ground investigations. It also provides a more in-depth comprehension of the different equipment and methods deployed to carry out GI works, from various exploratory techniques to methods of sampling, testing and measurements.

Why is compliance with the BS 5930 Code of practice important for SOCOTEC’s major ground investigation projects?

Working in accordance with BS 5930 is a key requirement for all GI contracts and is referred to explicitly in most GI contract specifications. BS 5930 is identified as the primary standard in the ICE’s UK Specification for Ground Investigation, which forms the basis for many GI contracts. The so-called ‘Yellow Book’ is itself currently under review to reflect changing practices and standards.

As a specialist ground investigation contractor working on major GI projects in the UK, compliance with industry standards is crucial for business at SOCOTEC, as it ensures that the client receives the specific site investigation they require in terms of type and quality. Larger contracts often involve several different GI contractors at various stages and the enforcement of these standards ensures a high degree of consistency between providers, reducing the variation of key engineering data due to different working practices. Delivering a quality service that is in line with the client’s exacting requirements is key to upholding SOCOTEC’s reputation as a market leader in ground investigation, as well as its commitment to maintaining high standards in health and safety and environmental practices.

How does SOCOTEC support compliance with these standards for its ground investigation team?

Ensuring compliance with BS 5930 is instilled throughout SOCOTEC’s GI team. All technical GI activities are carried out in accordance with in-house procedures under our Quality Management System, which relates to the relevant standards. In many cases, these are discussed in BS 5930, even where now covered under separate Eurocode-related British Standards.

The description of geomaterials encountered in exploratory holes remains as crucial as ever to the success of SOCOTEC’s GI projects. These include soils, rocks and manmade materials sampled from various borehole and excavation types (such as cable percussion boring, rotary drilling, dynamic sampling, machine excavated trial pits). The logs for these holes represent the fundamental record of ground conditions encountered, which in turn forms the basis of the geotechnical ground model that is later developed by additional field and laboratory test data. The approach to the description of geomaterials forms a key section of BS 5930, and this continues to be the case despite the publication of separate Eurocode-related British Standards for the description of soil and rock (last issued in 2018). The 2020 publication of BS 5930 ensures that UK practice is compliant with these separate standards, while also providing additional amplification and guidance.

SOCOTEC provides an internal three-day soil and rock description training course to all new technical staff and additional instruction for formation-specific descriptive processes, such as chalk. The use of digital field data capture technologies allows for the validation of data entry, so keeping these consistent with current standards is required. Updates to industry standards and practices such as BS 5930 are also regularly communicated to staff.

How can SOCOTEC help?

SOCOTEC’s Ground Investigation team provides an integrated package of services to support your business throughout the entire project life cycle, investigating, testing and advising on a wide range of ground, geological and structural conditions. For more information on how SOCOTEC can support your ground investigation requirements, click here or contact us.