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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:
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 objective of this Office for Products Safety & Standards review is to create a Product Safety Framework that is simple, flexible, and fit for the future, delivering safety for all consumers, supporting businesses to flourish and innovate, whilst also supporting the transition to net zero.
We are keen to hear from you and encourage all those with experience or evidence about how the product safety system is working or how it could be improved or simplified moving forward, to participate. Further background information about the review can be found on .gov.uk
The Call for Evidence will be open for a period of 12 weeks, closing on 3 June and responses should be submitted online using the dedicated online portal: beisgovuk.citizenspace.com, however, where this is not feasible, responses can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This consultation has now closed, but you can find the latest information about its standard BSI Flex 8670: v2.0 2020-12; 'Built environment – Overarching framework for building safety competence of individuals – Specification' on the BSI website.
Visit the BSI website for more information on BSI's Flex Standards which provide a new, flexible way to develop consensus-based good practice that dynamically adapts to keep pace with fast-changing markets. The development of BSI Flex 8670 has been sponsored by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), as part of a wider programme of work around competence in the built environment. Read more.
As part of wider reforms to address systemic failings identified by the Hackitt Review, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) work to address the culture within the construction industry and the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, it has been announced that the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) will be the national regulator for construction products.
MHCLG are to retain responsibility for construction products’ policy and OPSS is to operate as a Joint Unit, accountable to MHCLG Ministers for its construction products function.
OPSS and MHCLG will continue to work together to ensure a new legal framework sets appropriate and clear safety obligations on businesses supplying construction products. The scope of construction product regulations will be extended, subject to the appropriate legislation, to cover all products used in building and construction projects, strengthen national and local regulatory enforcement powers and increase national oversight of the whole system.
We anticipate OPSS will assume responsibility for construction products from 2022, operating initially in shadow form until the appropriate legislation is in place.
Over the coming months OPSS will begin engaging with interested parties, including businesses and trade associations within the sector, on how the new regime will work in practice.
As this new broader remit develops, OPSS will work with local authorities and the Building Safety Regulator being established by HSE to create a coherent system strengthening and building confidence in the regulatory regime and providing support for local regulatory enforcement.
Dedicated MHCLG funding will support the new functions ensuring existing OPSS activity including product safety, metrology, support for local authorities including Primary Authority, and enforcement functions for other government departments will be protected.