Building safety: industry publishes blueprint for improving competence and driving culture change

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  • General news

05 October 2020

Building

The cross-industry group representing more than 150 organisations in the fire and built environment sectors has today (Monday, 5 October) published its blueprint to drive culture change within the industry and to improve competence for those working on higher-risk buildings.

‘Setting the bar’ is the second and final report of the Competence Steering Group (CSG), work which was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review ‘Building a safer future’.

The overarching system of competence proposed in the report comprises four key elements:

  • a new competence committee sitting within the new Building Safety Regulator
  • a national suite of competence standards, including new sector-specific frameworks developed by 12 working groups
  • arrangements for independent assessment and reassessment against the competence standards
  • a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate levels of oversight.

CSG and its working groups have developed sector-wide and overarching competence frameworks to provide the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours needed to carry out specific building safety roles, whilst delivering a more rigorous approach to the essential training and assessment that is required.

The body has worked closely with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and some of the its key recommendations have already been adopted, including the proposal for a Committee on Industry Competence as set out in the draft Building Safety Bill.

Also published at the same time in a separate report, ‘Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management’, are the competence requirements for the new statutory role of Building Safety Manager (BSM). A key element of CSG’s work, the BSM competence framework has been developed by Working Group 8 (WG8), in which IWFM played a leading role by providing the secretariat resource. 

The skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours outlined by WG8 will be used by the British Standards Institute to develop a national standard that BSMs will be expected to meet.

CSG Chairman Graham Watts, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council, said: ‘There is no time to lose in casting aside the substandard practices that have shamed the industry. In this document we have set a new bar and we would urge all those working in life-critical disciplines to attain these higher levels of competence. Only then can we rebuild the trust of those who occupy and live in the buildings we design, construct and manage. We would see higher-risk buildings as an essential starting point for the new competence frameworks for the whole of the built environment, which would result in a step change across the sector and change of industry culture.’

Anthony Taylor, Chairman of Working Group 8, added: ‘We believe the competences and job functions we have set out will deliver the reassurance and trust to residents that their buildings are being managed safely by landlords.’

Both the ‘Setting the bar’ report and the WG8 report ‘Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management’ can be found here.

If you would like any further information on the above or to share your views on building safety, please email: policy@iwfm.org.uk