One of GEO's major slope safety regulatory functions is to check the design of earthworks to ensure they meet current safety standards. Geotechnical checking is exercised largely through the three District Divisions of the GEO: Mainland West Division, Mainland East Division and Island Division, each of which has responsibility for a geographical region of Hong Kong. Because of its importance to the slope safety system, about a quarter of the GEO professional staff are devoted to geotechnical checking.
The scope of checking covers the design of the geotechnical aspects of all building developments and civil engineering works and the standards of site supervision. In particular, the District Divisions check the adequacy of site formation works, slope upgrading works, earth retaining structures and deep excavations that are designed and constructed by the private sector, public authorities and Government departments.
District Division staff are concerned daily with a range of geotechnical problems relating to projects which are often situated on extremely difficult terrain. Major earthworks are commonplace for building developments on slopes, as are deep excavations on reclaimed land. The staff deal with a large number of submissions and are constantly in direct contact with consulting engineers and architects in the private sector, and with professional staff of other Government departments.
In exercising geotechnical control over private sector projects, the GEO operates through the statutory authority of the Buildings Department, which approves design submissions made by developer's/owner's designers before construction proceeds. For public works, under Government administrative instructions the District Divisions exercise geotechnical control over the projects undertaken by various Government departments and offices, to the same standard as for private sector projects.