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Natalie Keyes, Principal Associate, discusses what developments there have been in relation to the Building Safety Programme in recent months?

Further to Paul Lowe's recent guide to 'The Building Safety Bill 2020: What you need to know', we consider some recent developments relation to the Building Safety Programme below.

Building Regulations and Fire Safety Procedural Guidance

Published in July 2020 (by LABC, ACAI and NFCC), this guidance is intended for use by Building Control bodies and fire and rescue services and sets out the process for approving fire safety aspects of building work and explains the interaction between Building Regulations and statutory fire safety requirements. In particular, the guidance deals with steps to be followed prior to work commencing on site. Whilst the procedures set out are guidance and not mandatory or of legal effect, these are intended to be model procedures which it is hoped will be adopted throughout England and Wales.

Second report of the Industry Safety Steering Group

Published in August 2020, this reports on the ISSG’s work between July 2019 and July 2020. The report notes positive change during this period with indications of proactive changes to industry practices. That said, the ISSG has identified that more has to be done in driving meaningful and lasting change and engaging all within the construction industry (and associated industries). Notably, the report confirms the ISSG is now considering the impact of financial, insurance and legal issues on the behaviour of the industry. There are hopes that the publication of the Building Safety Bill will provide the focus needed to get all corners of the industry working towards the recommended changes. That said, the key message to be taken from the report is that changes must be made proactively and as soon as possible. As stated in the report “it is not acceptable to be waiting for legislation to make existing buildings safe.”

Competence Steering Group Final Report

In October 2020, the Competence Steering Group (set up by the government's Industry Response Group following the Grenfell Tower fire) published its final report entitled Setting the Bar: a new competence regime for building a safer future.

This report seeks to respond to the identified need to improve competence amongst specified professionals (set out below) and there is significant areas of overlap between what is covered in the report and the Draft Building Safety Bill which gives powers to prescribe competence requirements and will potentially require a statement that the competence of key parties has been assessed.

The report recommends an overarching system of competence (including the new competence committee sitting alongside the Building Safety Regulator), a national suite of competence standards and a system to assess compliance with those standards (including third party assessment and accreditation).

It recommends Publicly Available Specification (PAS) standards for the principal designer, principal contractor and building safety manager, and sector competence standards for individual disciplines, for example, engineers, installers, building designers, site supervisors, project managers and procurement professionals.

 

All of these additional publications and more, are available freely on the insights section of our website. If you require any advice on the implications for you or your business please contact Natalie.

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