BS 6031:2009
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BS 6031:2009

Code of practice for earthworks

Status : Current, Under review   Published : December 2009



BS 6031:2009 Code of practice for earthworks

BS 6031 - Best practice guidance on geotechnical aspects of earthworks and on working practices

What are earthworks?

Earthworks are:
1) Structures formed by the excavating, raising or sloping of ground, e.g. embankments, cuttings or remediated natural slopes

2) Civil engineering process that includes extraction, loading, transport, transformation/improvement, placement and compaction of natural materials (soils, rocks), and/or secondary or recycled materials, in order to obtain stable and durable cuttings, embankments or engineered fills

Earthworks are commonly associated with transport infrastructure, but there are many other important applications:

  • Platforms for industrial, commercial and residential buildings
  • Water engineering, flood defence and coastal protection works
  • Other civil engineering projects.

What is included in BS 6031?

BS 6031 gives recommendations and guidance for unreinforced earthworks forming part of general civil engineering construction, with the exception of dams. It also gives recommendations and guidance for temporary excavations such as trenches and pits.

BS 6031 reflects the actual processes that might be followed on a typical project to deliver the earthworks. In practice earthworks design is an iterative process where the employer, consultant, main contractor, sub-contractors and construction validation team often take design decisions. To reflect this situation BS 6031includes some subjects in more than one clause.

What has changed from the previous edition of BS 6031?

This revision of BS 6031 reflects the widespread UK practice of using the Specification for Highway Works (SHW) 600 series for the construction of earthworks. Within this standard, the SHW has been set as the default approach for earthworks specification that applies unless the designer details an alternative form of specification/earthworks management system.

This edition of BS 6031 is set out in clauses to reflect the overall earthworks process: where earthworks are planned, designed, constructed, adopted/approved following construction, and then the earthworks moves into an asset management process. This cycle is only broken when the earthworks reach the end of their useful life and are decommissioned. BS 6031 recognizes that construction of new earthworks and the remediation or repair of existing earthworks are activities that have similarities and significant differences. Wherever possible, clauses cover both construction and remediation activities, which need to be taken into consideration as appropriate.

This version of BS 6031 replaces the 1981 version, which is now obsolescent.

What is the relationship between BS 6031 and BS EN 1997-1 (Eurocode 7, part 1)?

This version of BS 6031 brings it into line with BS EN 1997-1:2004. The style adopted within BS 6031is to cross-reference BS EN 1997-1:2004 (not repeat it). BS 6031 is non-conflicting complementary information (NCCI) to BS EN 1997-1.

Who should use BS 6031?

  • Civil engineers
  • Construction workers
  • Consultants
  • Contractors

Contents of BS 6031:
Section 1: General
Normative references
Terms and definitions
The control of risk
Section 2: Design and management of earthworks
Planning of earthworks
Site conditions and investigations
Design of earthworks
Specification of earthworks fill materials
Construction of earthworks
Earthworks asset management
Decommissioning and disposal of earthworks assets
Section 3: Temporary excavations, trenches, pits and shafts
Temporary excavations
Construction procedure
Pits and shafts
Annex A (informative) Potential modes of failure of slopes
List of figures
List of tables

See more information on Eurocodes

Standard NumberBS 6031:2009
TitleCode of practice for earthworks
StatusCurrent, Under review
Publication Date31 December 2009
Confirm Date01 July 2014
Normative References(Required to achieve compliance to this standard)BS EN ISO 14689-1, BS 1924-1, BS 1377, BS EN 500-4, BS 1924-2, BS EN 13331-1, BS EN 1990:2002/AMD 1:2005, BS EN 791, BS EN 1998-5, NA to BS EN 1990:2002/AMD 1:2005, BS EN 474, BS 812-109, BS EN 12111, BS 5930:1999/AMD 1:2007, BS EN 1997-2:2007, NA to BS EN 1997-2:2007, BS EN ISO 14688-2:2004, NA to BS EN 1997-1:2004, BS 5607:2017, BS EN ISO 14688-1:2002, BS EN 1997-1:2004, BS 6164:2019
Informative References(Provided for Information)BS 8900:2006, BS EN 752-4, BS 8006-2, BS 6100-1, BS EN 14899, BS ISO 6707-1:2004, BS EN 13286, BS 8006-1, BS EN 14227, BS 6100-3, BS 6031:1981, BS EN 13285:2018, BS EN 12670:2019
ReplacesBS 6031:1981
Amended ByCorrigendum, August 2010
DescriptorsMaintenance, Site investigations, Drainage, Management, Roads, Classification systems, Inspection, Construction engineering works, Earthworks, Excavations, Surface-water drainage, Occupational safety, Trenches, Construction equipment, Soils, Risk assessment, Shear strength, Structural design, Mathematical calculations, Embankments, Design calculations, Ground-water drainage, Landscaping, Soil mechanics, Design, Excavating, Stability, Land retention works
Title in FrenchCode de bonne pratique pour les travaux de terrassement
Title in GermanRichtlinie fuer den Erdbau
ISBN978 0 580 72749 8
File Size6.337 MB

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