The government is introducing new building safety legislation and has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to establish a new building safety regulator to:
- Implement a new, more stringent regulatory regime for high risk residential buildings
- Promote competence among industry professionals and regulators to raise standards in design, construction, and the management of buildings
- Oversee performance systems of all buildings, so one regulator can provide guidance on building performance as well as building safety, ensuring that factors like countering climate change are factored into regulatory decisions
The government’s proposals were informed by an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017 which led to 72 fatalities.
The final report from the review, Building a Safer Future, was published on 17 May 2018. The 53 recommendations included specific proposals to raise the bar on the competence of people designing, constructing, and operating High-Rise Residential Buildings (HRRBs) throughout the building lifecycle. Key professions identified in the report included engineers and fire engineers.
To meet that challenge, and take forward the report’s recommendations, the Competence Steering Group (CSG) was created in August 2018. The Engineering Council has led a working group (Working Group 1: Engineers, or WG1 Engineers) as part of this initiative.
In August 2019, the CSG published its interim report, Raising the Bar. It included 67 recommendations including creating a suite of national standards and supporting documents.
Recommendation 20 of ‘Raising the bar’ stated:
Industry should lead the creation of an HRRB benchmark competence framework covering the core knowledge, skills and behaviours required to work on HRRBs as part of a suite of national standards under the governance of the national standards body against which professional and trade bodies are expected to develop their individual sector-specific or discipline competence frameworks.
The Engineering Council is a member of the Built Environment Competence Standards (BECS) Strategy Group and is involved in the development of overarching Built Environment Competence Standards, being led by British Standards Institution (BSI).
On 22 July 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched the draft Building Safety Bill; a complex piece of legislation that will ultimately deliver the most fundamental improvements to building safety regulations seen in 40 years.
An overview of the Bill's contents, explaining in particular what this means for residents, leaseholders and industry, is available here.
The second document below is the Fire Safety Consultation, published by the Home Office, which is seeking views on proposals to strengthen the existing Fire Safety Order.
Taken together, the measures in the draft Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Order will improve safety standards for residents of all blocks of flats of all heights, which is something we are all keen to work towards, together.
The draft Building Safety Bill:
- Strengthens the whole regulatory system for building safety, ensuring greater accountability and responsibility for fire and structural safety issues throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings (design, construction, and occupation) within the scope of a more stringent regime
- Puts residents at the heart of the new regime, with a stronger voice and better access to safety information about their building, including a streamlined complaints process
- The new more stringent regime will apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings of 18m in height or more, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first) and its scope can expand if the evidence base suggests it should
- Protects the rights of homebuyers and holds developers to account, with a requirement that developers of new build housing belong to a New Homes Ombudsman. This will plug a gap in consumer protection and help purchasers resolve the issues they find with their new homes
The Fire Safety Consultation:
- Seeks to strengthen the Fire Safety Order and improves compliance for all regulated buildings
- Implements the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report recommendations for multi-occupied residential buildings which require a change in the law
- Seeks views on the effectiveness of the arrangements for consultation and information sharing between building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities in relation to building work - alongside an overhaul the Fire Safety Order’s supporting guidance
The building safety regulator
- As of September 2020: the government's HSE has appointed lead Directors to create this body.
- This new regulator will develop new guidance and ensure readiness for the new regulatory system for building safety.
- The building safety regulator will be responsible for overseeing the new regime for buildings in scope (18m tall and above or six storeys and above, whichever threshold is reached first).
- Over the last six months the Health and Safety Executive has appointed lead Directors tasked with creating the new regulator, developing new guidance, and ensuring readiness for the new system.
- The HSE will also begin recruitment of the first national Chief Inspector of Buildings.
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In this section you will find all of the final documents from Working Group 1 (WG1 Engineers) which were used to produce the Competence Steering Group (CSG)'s interim report Raising the Bar.
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