News | 8 August 2019

Response to Government: We should pursue a ‘whole’ building safety approach

As part of IWFM’s ongoing engagement with Government since the Grenfell fire in 2017, we have submitted our responses to two recent public consultations which have significant implications for the workplace and facilities management profession.

Proposals in the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation built on recommendations for reform of the building safety regulatory system published in Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.’ Amongst these, the proposed new concept of ‘dutyholders’ responsible for building safety throughout the design, construction and occupation phases includes the appointment of a Building Safety Manager (BSM) – the first statutory role for our profession. At the same time, the Home Office has sought views on the effectiveness and application of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) in non-domestic premises and the common parts of high-rise residential buildings (HRRBs); a responsibility which many facilities managers take on, if not formally, then at least materially.

Whilst welcoming and supporting many of MHCLG’s proposals, in our response, we looked at the two consultations in tandem and expressed our view that Government should extend the material scope of the new regulatory regime to meet Hackitt’s recommendation that a ‘whole’ building safety approach should be taken rather than ‘just’ fire and structural safety. 

We also advocated that the MHCLG proposals should ultimately move, with a phased approach and clear timelines, to include all multi-occupied residential buildings, mixed-use buildings and workplaces. Our main recommendation to the Home Office was that we would like to see the same building safety regime proposals applied to the buildings and places falling under the RRO. All this should be implemented under one regime with one regulator to ensure greater clarity, better practice and stronger means for enforcement. 

We conducted a survey of members’ views to inform our responses to these consultations and ran a webinar on the impact of the Government’s proposals on our profession, particularly the critical BSM role. Read our submissions in full:

- ‘Building a Safer Future’
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 

You can also watch our webinar for a more in-depth view.

Since Grenfell we have worked with the wider building safety profession to improve building and life safety as part of the Industry Response Group and the Construction Industry Council. Members of our Life Safety Working Group provided expert advice to the Hackitt Review and we are collaborating with other stakeholders to realise many of the Review’s recommendations.

IWFM also feeds into the Competence Steering Group (CSG), which was set up to tackle competency failings highlighted by Dame Hackitt. We have provided the secretariat for the CSG’s Working Group 8 – which was tasked with developing the competency framework for the BSM – and we recently presented its final report to Dame Judith Hackitt herself. 

We will continue to feed into Government building safety policy and to support the culture change needed to create a robust regulatory regime, while also partnering with other stakeholders on the development of the competence standard for the BSM. We are working towards putting tools in place facilities managers wanting to take on this crucial new role.

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