Our Associate, Kat Barker attends AGS Ground Risk Conference: Are You Managing Risks or Taking Risks as one of the speakers

1 December 2023

When CampbellReith was named ‘Geotechnical Consulting Firm of the Year’ this year, the judges particularly noted our commitment to the profession. As part of that commitment, our Geotechnical Associate Katharine Barker sits on the AGS Geotechnical Working Group and last week she attended  the AGS Ground Risk Conference: Are You Managing Risks or Taking Risks as one of the speakers.

Several years ago Kat and some of her like-minded peers from the Geotechnical Working Group set up the Underpinning Focus Group in an endeavour to improve the knowledge and understanding around ground movements that arise due to underpinning as part of basement construction. Kat’s interest in the topic stemmed from CampbellReith’s long standing role as auditor of Basement Impact Assessments (BIAs) for the London Borough of Camden. The absence of guidance relating to ground movement associated with  underpinning was motivation for BIA auditors and authors alike.

Kat reported on recent progress being made by the AGS Underpinning Focus Group which includes obtaining a number of complete case study data packages that are currently being scrutinised by students at the University of Portsmouth as part of their Masters project.

Other topics at the conference included Contracts and Litigation, Piling Risk Assessments and Foundation Risks and Problems from a Structural Engineer’s Perspective by Patrick Hayes of the IStructE. Kat noted that the latter presentation was particularly relevant ahead of the new Eurocode updates due in 2024, and the current liaison efforts between the AGS and IStructE, which are in part facilitated by CampbellReith, to forge a closer working relationship between the two organisations.

Kat particularly enjoyed the presentation from Alex Lee about Bias in the Delivery of Geo-Environmental Assessments, which highlighted a generally low confidence in risk assessments that may be associated with biases introduced into the work, driven by client requests or a desired outcome. It also raised the important reminder that as a member of the AGS or as chartered professionals, we are bound by codes of conduct that warn against bias and the importance of impartiality in our professional conduct.

As well as hearing some inspiring and informative talks, Kat also had the opportunity to catch up with some former CampbellReith colleagues!