Home News Construction and fire industries set out sweeping proposals on building safety

Construction and fire industries set out sweeping proposals on building safety

by Brian Sims

BAFE has welcomed the publication of ‘Raising The Bar’, the summary and reports issued by the Working Groups established after the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. BAFE contributed significantly to a number of the Working Groups and supported the Fire Sector Federation with the work of the Competence Steering Group.

The ongoing need for competence and third party certification of contractors for fire protection is a priority from this report. BAFE will be working with all relevant bodies to ensure that statutory bodies develop their requirements to bring about a significant change in the culture of specification and procurement to properly reflect the need for competent providers.

A radical and wide-ranging set of measures to improve the competence of those who design, construct, inspect, maintain and operate higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) and make them safer for the public has been set out by the cross-industries group backed by Government, the Industry Safety Steering Group and Dame Judith Hackitt.

The measures are being proposed by the Competence Steering Group (CSG), set up by the Industry Response Group (IRG) to tackle competency failings identified in the Hackitt Review. The CSG has brought together more than 150 institutions and associations across the full spectrum of construction, the built environment, fire safety and building owner/manager sectors, all working towards the common purpose of raising competences to improve life safety.

In its interim report, the CSG is urging all life safety-critical disciplines working on HRRBs, including designers, engineers, building standards officers, site supervisors, fire safety enforcement officers and fire risk officials, to adopt the measures.

The organisation is also calling on Government to play its part by requiring that any company or individual working on a central Government construction project, including those to retrofit existing HRRBs, must meet the competence frameworks set out within this report. Local authorities and the wider public and private sectors are also being urged to follow suit.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review identified a lack of consistency and rigour in the processes and standards for assuring the skills, knowledge and behaviours of those working on HRRBs and concluded this was a major flaw in the current regulatory system. The competence frameworks developed by the CSG and its Working Groups tackle these shortcomings by setting out the appropriate knowledge, qualifications and skill sets required for individuals working on HRRBs, how they should be assessed and by whom.

New oversight body

In addition, ‘Raising The Bar’ calls for:

*A new oversight body – the Building Safety Competence Committee – which will monitor assessment processes, draw up a central register of duty holders eligible to work on HRRBs and continually drive improvements across the sector. This recommendation dovetails with proposals set out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in its recent consultation

*Government to mandate individuals working on HRRBs to be registered/certified by a recognised professional/or certified body

*All organisations, including professional bodies, carrying out the assessments and reassessments of an individual’s competence should themselves be subject to a rigorous system of oversight by a body such as UKAS or the Engineering Council

*The building safety regulator to hold and maintain a register of those qualified to perform the key roles with the advice of the Building Safety Competence Committee. Additionally, to provide sign-posting to registers which should be held by the professional and trade bodies of those qualified and competent to work on HRRBs

*The period of reassessment to be no less than every five years

*Common principles of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to be established for each sector, which the Building Safety Competence Committee should use to hold sectors to account

*Fire safety CPD materials to explain basic fire science to be available to anyone working on HRRBs or managing occupied HRRBs

Accepting the need for change

In launching the interim report, Graham Watts (CEO of the Construction Industry Council and chairman of the CSG) said: “It’s clear that industry organisations have accepted the need to change. The Working Groups are proposing to raise the bar through a more rigorous approach, including training, assessment, reassessment and third party accreditation. Combined with a new oversight layer, we think adopting our measures will result in a paradigm change to improve competence and industry culture.”

The interim report is published for wide consultation, ending on 18 October 2019, following which a final report will be issued. The interim report, executive summary and accompanying annexes can be downloaded by using the following links:

*Raising The Bar Interim Report http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/raising-the-barinterimfinal-1.pdf

*Raising The Bar Executive Summary http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/executive-summaryraising-the-barinterimfinal.pdf

*Raising The Bar Appendix A (Working Group 1-3): http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/raising-the-barappendix-a-working-group-1-3.pdf

*Raising The Bar Appendix A (Working Group 4-12): http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/raising-the-barappendix-a-working-group-4-12.pdf

*Raising The Bar Appendix B (Building Safety Co-ordinator) http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/raising-the-barappendix-b.pdf

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