‘Change has to happen now’: Building Safety Bill reaction

Yesterday’s publication of the draft Building Safety Bill has been mostly welcomed by construction industry figures, with a few caveats

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, research and public affairs, CIOB:

“There is likely to be substantive change across many aspects of the system, with design, specification, procurement, construction, building control and management of buildings during occupation, and the competencies of those working on buildings all in scope. 

“Much of the detail will require substantial secondary legislation and getting that detail right is crucial. The CIOB welcomes the functions of the new Building Safety Regulator which gives the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) much needed power to improve Building Standards.

"We very much support the publication of the bill and look forward to working with Government and the industry to ensure that the substantive detail is right and that there is assurance  that buildings and those who use them are safer and those working on them are fully competent to do this work.”

Steve Coppin, associate technical director, Arcadis:

“It is not before time. Clients and those cutting corners should be made an example of.

“The client will have to provide a signed declaration that they have assessed and are satisfied with the competence of the principal designer and principal contractor. These roles will have to demonstrate they have skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours. It will be interesting to see how behaviours will be assessed, evaluated and measured when we see the draft competency framework, due to be issued in two to four weeks’ time.

“It looks like the bill is trying to stop clients going for the cheapest prices without a proper evaluation of who they are selecting, plus setting minimum standards within contracts. At last the principles of Latham and Egan will be put into practice.”

Lorna Stimpson, chief executive, LABC:

“I welcome the bill in draft form today, but there is still much to do to get the details right.

“So far what we know is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will become the building safety regulator with far reaching powers to appoint building control inspectors, for higher risk building work. All building control practitioners will need to be licensed and have to prove their competence to practice. Local authorities and individual building control inspectors will be responsible and legally liable for their decisions.

“Local government across England needs to understand these changes and how they will affect not only their building control teams but their responsibilities more generally. Please don’t think because there are no high-rise tower blocks in your area it won’t affect you. It will.

“The impact of these changes on all English local authorities will be huge, with building control teams needing investment and additional learning so they can evidence their resourcing, competence, standards and resilience.

“We have to ensure public safety. Change has to happen and it has to happen now.”

Jane Duncan, chair, RIBA fire safety group: 

“This draft legislation makes some positive changes, outlining the functions of the new building safety regulator, amending the Building Act 1984 and giving the HSE much needed power to improve building standards.

“However, it’s disappointing that the scope of the new regulatory system has not been widened to apply to other high-risk non-residential buildings at any height – fire does not discriminate. Over three years on, there is still no commitment to review all relevant technical guidance documents, or clearly outline of responsibilities for duty holders who work on the design, construction and maintenance of buildings.

“The government has a once in a generation opportunity to overhaul the UK’s building regulations to ensure buildings and people are safe – and it must get it right.”

Peter Caplehorn, chief executive, Construction Products Association

“This is a significant moment for the construction industry. The Act’s commitment to a Building Safety Regulator with powers to oversee and enforce a new, more rigorous building safety system as well as and a new regulatory regime for construction products, gives the industry a clear sense that change is coming.

“The Association and its members will be paying close attention to the bill’s details, particularly around the new national regulator for construction products and changes to the Building Act. We will actively engage and consult to help ensure manufacturers play their part in ensuring the safety of residents in higher risk buildings.” 

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy, Association of British Insurers:

“The publishing of the draft bill is welcome and will provide much needed clarity to all those involved in making sure that people living in high rise buildings are safe.

“We would urge government, however, to extend the bill to encompass buildings of any height accommodating vulnerable people.”

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  1. The title is an embarrassing admittance

  2. Yes, it is time the industry step on construction Quality, Health and Safety on both small and large scale construction. This bill will act as litmus tests on all construction materials where safety will be one of the dimensions of quality. Furthermore, safety of the built environment will also become an area of high concern since it is tightly related to the integrity of organizational resources, including human, equipment – infrastructure and the environment. Both Quality and Safety systems though have common philosophies, the amending Building Act 1984 will give the professionals in the industry the needed specifications to improve the built environment.

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