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Technical note: Study of the benefits of ICE Site Investigation Steering Group documents: 10 years on

SJ Everton, head of geotechnics, Jacobs, and BT Diffin, University of Surrey (formerly of Jacobs). This paper was first published in GE’s December 2004 edition.

In 1993 the ICE’s Site Investigation Steering Group published four documents which, along with a marketing campaign in industry magazines and forums, were intended to educate the industry, clients, consultants and contractors about the value of properly implemented geotechnical investigations. The documents were:

  • Without site investigation ground is a hazard — the “pink book”;
  • Planning, procurement and quality management — the “blue book”;
  • Specification for ground investigation — the “yellow book”; and
  • Guidelines for the safe investigation by drilling of landfills and contaminated land — the “grey book”.

Ten years on from their publication, the quality and value of site investigations (SI) is still questioned.

Driven by client requests, and as part of a programme of quality assurance and Health & Safety Executive supply chain management, a research project was undertaken (Diffin, 2004) to identify contemporary issues in the SI industry.

Interviews were conducted with SI contractors, structural and geotechnical consultants, clients and specialist geotechnical contractors. Interviews were chosen over questionnaires because of their flexibility. While it is recognised this does not constitute a representative statistical sample of the industry, it was considered more appropriate to find out what the general problems were from the thoughts and opinions of people dealing with them every day.

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