The Engineering Council has committed to work with the professional engineering institutions (PEIs) it licenses and the broader cross-industry Competence Steering Group (CSG) to establish and take forward a series of solutions to enhance engineering competence, introduce the role of Lead Engineer (LE) and improve public safety.
The CSG was established by the Industry Response Group (IRG) to address competency improvements identified in the Hackitt Review, Building a Safer Future, responding to the Grenfell Tower fire. The CSG, of which the Engineering Council is a member, has brought together for the first time more than 150 institutions and associations across the full spectrum of construction, built environment, fire safety and building owner/manager sectors; all working towards the common purpose of raising competence to improve life safety. In its report, Raising the Bar, the CSG is proposing a wide-ranging set of measures to develop the competence of those who design, construct, inspect, maintain and operate higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs), to create a greater focus on public safety than ever before.
The Engineering Council has committed to moving forward on engineering-specific recommendations developed by Working Group 1: Engineers (WG1), which complement those proposed by the CSG, including the introduction of the role of LE. George Adams, Chair of this group, believes this is a first in the industry and the group has found fundamental aspects to contribute to Hackitt’s findings, stating: “The work and results achieved by WG1 will establish a basis for engineers to increase their contribution to safer HRRB’s.”
A full report from WG1 is included in the Annex to Raising the Bar, but key WG1 recommendations include:
- establishing the role of the LE, who will be responsible for ensuring all the engineering technologies in an HRRB project are suitably co-ordinated and compatible with one another in terms of safety, compliance, functionality, and future maintainability. A suitably competent person or organisation, the LE provides an overseeing independent compliance responsibility for the safety of the occupants.
- a practical and realistic safety management process for HRRBs that can be implemented quickly from existing resources and then developed and improved on a continuous basis. This takes learning from other industries and builds on Hackitt’s proposal that HRRBs should be subject to a Safety Case Review.
- a framework that sets out the core competences required by any person undertaking work as an engineer or engineering technician on HRRBs and the level of competence expected of these professionals. This sits within the wider context of an overarching competence framework for all professionals working on these buildings and is designed to ensure that engineering professionals have the skills and knowledge to undertake their work in an effective way that ensures building safety, as well as an awareness of the competences and responsibilities of other professionals working in the same environment. Engineering professionals will have specific responsibilities in creating and maintaining the Safety Case for a building.
Alasdair Coates BEng(Hons) MSc CEng FICE MCIHT CMIOSH, Chief Executive Officer of the Engineering Council, said:
“The Engineering Council fully supports the work done by the CSG and its proposals, developed with partners from across industry, to enhance the competence of those working on higher risk, complex buildings.
In addition to supporting the overarching proposals, the Engineering Council, its member PEIs and the WG1 team are committed to progressing the WG1 recommendations to develop specific core competences of our engineering professionals, promoting a systems-led approach to building safety that prioritises the health and safety of building occupants and recognising the critical role of the competent Lead Engineer in delivering the safety management system supported by independent lifecycle compliance reviews.”
In its interim report Raising the Bar, the CSG urges all those who work in life-safety-critical disciplines on HRRBs, including designers, engineers, building standards officers, site supervisors, fire safety enforcement officers and fire risk officials, to adopt the measures.
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 dutyholders eligible to carry out three key roles of Principal Designer, Principal Contractor and Building Safety Manager on HRRBs and continually drive improvements across the sector.
- Government to mandate individuals working on HRRBs covered by Government contracts 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.
- 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.
The full CSG press release is available on the CIC website, with links to the Interim Report, Executive Summary and accompanying Annexes. A consultation on the CSG’s proposals is open now at https://consultations.rics.org/consult.ti/Raisingthebar/consultationHome, with a deadline of 31 October for responses.
For press enquiries:
Kate Webster, Engineering Council – firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 3206 0567
The Engineering Council holds the national Register of Engineering Technicians (EngTech), Incorporated Engineers (IEng), Chartered Engineers (CEng) and Information and Communication Technology Technicians (ICTTech). It also sets and maintains the internationally recognised standards of competence and ethics that govern the award and retention of these titles. By this means it is able to ensure that employers, government and wider society, both at home and overseas, can have confidence in the skills and commitment of registrants. For more information visit: www.engc.org.uk