Building Safety (England)

On 2nd April, the government gave an update on its progress to overhaul England’s building and fire safety regimes, following the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London.

The government’s update on building safety is here. Some key points –

(1) the new Building Safety Regulator (that is being established in shadow form by the Health and Safety Executive – I Blog posted about this at the time of announcement in January 2020) will be responsible for implementing and enforcing a more stringent regulatory regime for higher risk buildings, as well as providing wider and stronger oversight of safety and performance across all buildings, and increasing the competence of those working on building safety

(2) the new regulator will be responsible for all major regulatory decisions made at key points during the design, construction, occupation and refurbishment stages of buildings in scope

(3) the government will establish a national construction products regulatory role to strengthen the oversight of the existing regulatory regime governing construction products

(note – construction products in the UK are presently regulated by retained EU Law – see the Brexit Consolidated Law List in Subscribers’ tailored Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Law Checklists systems)

(4) the government has confirmed ACM PE (a cladding material used at Grenfell Tower) presents an unparalleled risk and should be remediated on all buildings – the update also state consolidated advice is clear that other cladding materials should also be assessed for safety and remediated where found to be unsafe –

External wall systems on high-rise buildings using Class C or D HPL panels are unsafe and should be removed as they do not comply with building regulations.

(5) in May 2020, the government will publish an update to Approved Document B that will include increased fire safety measures in high-rise residential buildings, including the provision of sprinkler systems and consistent signage in all new high-rise blocks of flats over 11 metres tall

(Subscribers to Cardinal Environment tailored EHS Legislation Registers & Law Checklists who have Approved Document B loaded, will have this updated)

(6) the government will work with the National Fire Chiefs Council on a series of tests of new evacuation alert systems technology, with a view to including guidance in a later update to Approved Document B

(7) the government has announced measures to support construction professionals who have experienced challenges in accessing adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance and support for fire engineers who are advising on the safety of high-rise and other complex buildings

Announcements already made include –

(a) naming building owners who have been slow to act in removing unsafe ACM cladding

(b) introducing the Fire Safety Bill as part of delivery of the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry’s Phase One report – the Bill is not yet progressed

(c) legislating for the new reforms through the Building Safety Bill – this Bill is also not progressed

A blog post made at the time covers their First Reading at UK Parliament.