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The Building Safety Bill was published on 5 July and passed its second reading on 21 July; a Government press release sets out some of the key measures included in the Bill. The draft Bill (published in 2020) was welcomed by the Engineering Council, which is a member of the Competence Steering Group (CSG) established to address the need to raise the bar on competence of those working in higher-risk buildings.
Alongside this legislation, the Government 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 was open for a period of 12 weeks, closing on 3 June. Enquiries can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the BSI consultation which closed on 2 February 2021, the third and final version of BSI Flex 8670: v3.0 2021-04, Built environment – Core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks – Code of practice has now been released.
This BSI Flex is the result of the Advisory Group reaching consensus on the comments received during two public consultations, with those outcomes being adopted into the standard. Although the BSI Flex development process has now concluded, BSI Flex 8670 will be transitioning into BS 8670 in 2022.
In the interim, version 3 of BSI Flex 8670 is available to download and use on the BSI website. Here you will also find supporting documentation which provides the context for the work, how people should interact with BSI Flex 8670 and the process going forward. Anyone who is unfamiliar with the work programme should read these documents.
BSI is seeking feedback on using BSI Flex 8670 in the hope that they can make BS 8670 even better. You can help them do this by answering some specific questions, via this feedback form. Clause by clause commenting can also be made through their standards development portal.
BSI Flex 8670 will be available until BS 8670 is published, unless BSI receive authoritative advice to withdraw it. Industry should keep using BSI Flex 8670 until it is either superseded or withdrawn.
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.