A total of 12 companies including several major contractors and housebuilders have become the first Building a Safer Future (BSF) Charter "champions".
The firms have agreed to take part in a “robust” self-assessment, benchmarking and independent verification process as part of the scheme, which aims to help companies identify potential issues and develop continuous improvements plans to advance their approach to building safety.
The first 12 companies to become ‘charter champions’ are: BAM, Galliford Try, Kier, Mace, Mhs Homes, Persimmon Homes, Places for People, Salix Homes, United Living, Vistry Group, Wates and Willmott Dixon.
The BSF Charter has been highlighted by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) as a key mechanism for leading the culture change required for industry in their report for the secretary of state and the minister for building safety published in August 2020.
The BSF Charter’s benchmarking and verification process is now open for participation from across the construction industry. Companies can become registered signatories and, if appropriate, progress to undertaking the ‘charter champion’ benchmarking process.
‘Culture change needed’
Peter Baker, chief inspector of buildings at the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Self-assessment, benchmarking and independent verification are important elements of a robust system to enable businesses to properly lead, manage and control major building safety risks.
“Businesses across the industry need to start preparing now for the new building safety regime. The ‘Charter Champions’ scheme is a valuable contribution to driving the necessary change in culture and performance across the sector to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.”
Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, said: “I am delighted to see the formal launch of the champions of the Building a Safer Future Charter. My congratulations go to Amanda Long and her team for the way in which they have built upon approaches which have been tried, tested and proved effective in other sectors to create the Charter initiative.
“I have consistently called for the built environment sector to recognise the need for culture change, which can only happen when leaders in the sector stand up and are prepared to demonstrate what good looks like and to be held to account for delivery. I look forward to watching the Charter champions group grow as others see the benefits of becoming part of this important programme which offers a real market differentiation opportunity.”
Amanda Long, chief executive, Building a Safer Future Charter, added: “In the built environment sector, the Grenfell Tower disaster has put building safety at the top of everyone’s agenda. From a moral, social and economic perspective, it’s now imperative that we embed enduring values, attitudes and ethical behaviours at the heart of all we do.
“The launch of the Building a Safer Future Charter’s ‘Charter Champion’ status is an important step in driving forwards the systemic culture change in relation to major hazard safety that is required across the built-environment sector and through the entire value chain. As we progress on this critical journey, we should be seeking to raise standards and build public trust. I am delighted to welcome the first 12 companies on their journey to becoming a charter champion.”