The Association for Project Safety (APS) has today welcomed the Westminster Government’s Draft Building Safety Bill that aims to improve building and fire safety, issued on Monday 20th July.
The Bill is published in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in West London which on June 14, 2017 claimed 72 lives. The tragedy exposed serious failings in building and managing high-rise homes. The government accepted the recommendations of the Hackitt review and is also consulting on its Fire Safety Bill and fire safety.
Lesley McLeod, Chief Executive of The Association for Project Safety comments:
“Safety must be at the heart of every construction project. It is not a nice-to-have or an add-on but is central to everything the construction sector must be about. Building safely is vital to the lives, health and well-being of us all.
“The Association for Project Safety [APS] supports moves to improve building safety and believes a thread sewing safety into the fabric of every property – from design through use and on to final deconstruction – may help prevent safety from becoming invisible and of secondary importance.
“APS believes work on high rise buildings is important. But members want more – they want to see safety imbedded in every project, no matter how large or small, so we can all live and work in the certainty that proportionate risks have been assessment and properly managed.
We all have an interest in making buildings safer. The Association for Project Safety [APS] will work to make the new Building Safety Bill effective. The association will consult its nationwide membership of experts in design and construction health and safety risk management to ensure safety is built-in with the bricks.”
The Key points on the Draft Building Safety Bill includes;
- National regulator for building safety/ Building Safety Regulator: a new national regulator for building safety will make sure accountable persons carry out their duties properly. The national regulator for building safety will be based within the Health and Safety Executive and will have powers to raise and enforce higher standards of safety and performance across all buildings. The regulator will have three main functions to: 1) oversee the safety and standard of all buildings; 2) directly assure the safety of higher-risk buildings; and 3) improve the competence of people responsible for managing and overseeing building work.
- Accountable person: the Draft Bill makes someone – the accountable person - responsible for keeping residents safe in high rise buildings [those 18 metres and above]. The accountable person will also have to listen and respond to residents’ concerns. For in-scope buildings, registered for the first time, the accountable person will be required to conduct and maintain a safety case risk assessment and appoint a Building Safety Manager to oversee day to day running.
- Building Safety Manager: a building safety manager will be appointed to oversee day to day running of an in-scope building.
- Building Assurance Certificate: when an in-scope building is first occupied it will need to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator and get a Building Assurance Certificate.
- Historic repairs: Leaseholders will not have to pay unaffordable costs for historic repairs. The government will continue to engage with stakeholders, including leaseholders, on this issue while the draft Bill is being scrutinised and will work with the finance and insurance industries to prevent the bill falling on tax-payers.
- Building safety charge: a new building safety charge will address insurance issues designed to make it easier for leaseholders. Powers are included in the Bill to limit the costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.
- Materials: the government will have new powers to regulate construction materials and products and ensure they are safe to use.
- Residents’ panels: the regulator will appoint a panel of residents who will have a voice in the development of its work.
- Access to information: residents and leaseholders will have access to safety information about their building and new complaints handling requirements will be introduced.
- New Homes Ombudsman: a New Homes Ombudsman will be introduced for complaints about new builds with developers required to be a member of the scheme. The New Homes Ombudsman will be able to require developers to pay compensation.
- Building inspectors: building inspectors responsible for signing off buildings as safe for people to live in will also have to follow the new rules and must register with the regulator.
Next steps - pre-legislative scrutiny
The government is keen to receive further views from parliamentarians, residents and industry via the Parliamentary process of pre-legislative scrutiny before the Bill is introduced to Parliament.
APS will be consulting its members in due course.