The government consultation and proposals in response to the Grenfel disaster is due to close at the end of this month.

The proposals go further than the Hackett review and are far reaching placing more responsibility and accountability on the key duty holders taking reference from the CDM 2015 Regulations. It is clear that the emphasis on accountability is core to the improvement of management of safety in these multi occupancy buildings. This extends to occupation with the introduction of the accountable person and building safety manager.

Laid out in three parts;

  • Part A covers the Duties in in design and construction
    • Requirement for the principal designer to take a lead role
    • Expectation of on the client to ensure safety is fully considered 
    • 3 gateways requiring submission of the safety case with the "building safety regulator" approval before proceeding
  • Part B Lays out the duties in occupation
    • The accountable person or building owner will have to demonstrate how they are complying with the standards
    • The building safety manager will be responsible for implementation of this strategy ensuring engagement with residents 
  • Part C brings emphasis on duties throughout the building life cycle
    • Creation of a new "building safety regulator"
    • Requirement for building information to be digital (BIM) and made freely available

Clients with existing properties that fall in this category will be required to complete full reviews of their buildings, compiling a safety case and management strategy and register this with the building safety regulator. As part of this they should identify any remedial works and a programme to complete these as well as a strategy to engage and communicate with the residents. All this building information being updated to an electronic format and made available to residents.

Design teams will have to demonstrate to the building safety regulator how they are dealing with fire and safety issues. Compile a fire statement and strategy, detailing how fire and emergency will be managed in use and construction at a planning stage. This would also apply to refurbishment works. The principal designer is identified as a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with building regulations. 

Some may say the building regulations and this reform does not go far enough. For me reassuringly the building safety regulator has a clear remit that creates confidence. They will be required to regulate the industry, produce technical guidance, encourage continuous improvement and hold a register of competent persons. There are also key terms used such as "there is an expectation to go beyond minimum compliance" and "demonstrate continuous improvement".

We are already looking at how we take this forwards and are already working with clients and designers who are making changes to the way they work. Whilst this is not an overnight fix I personally feel this is a significant step change that will challenge the culture of the construction industry. There are still many challenges to overcome such as how to foster collaborative relationships between designers, clients and contractors whilst maintaining clear commercial and contractual lines as well as the mandatory shift to digital information likely to be a BIM format. However this creates opportunity but it is down to us as individuals and organisations to take the positive steps and seek to go beyond the minimum standards to make this a significant change a positive one for the safety and wellbeing of future residents.