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Hackitt: Eight key recommendations

21 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Following the publication last week of Dame Judith Hackitt's final report into her review of Building Regulations and fire safety, Construction Manager rounds up the report's eight key recommendations:

1) New regulatory framework

A new regulatory framework for buildings more than ten storeys high. This includes the creation of a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA), made up of Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive. The JCA will hold a database of all high-risk residential buildings (HHRBs), whether in construction or already occupied. It will oversee the sign-off of HHRBs with dutyholders having to show that their plans are "detailed and robust".

2) Clear responsibilities

Hackitt warned that a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities when it comes to building safety was one of the circumstances that left to the Grenfell Tower disaster. She is recommending a clear and identifiable "dutyholder" with responsibility for building safety for the whole building. That dutyholder will have to present a safety case to the JCA at regular intervals. The key roles that are most important initiating, overseeing and influencing activity throughout the procurement, design and construction of a building should also be identified. The key roles for prioritising building safety will be the same as those identified in the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015 to avoid confusion.

3) Three 'gateways'

There should be three "gateway" points where those responsible for a building's safety will have to prove to the new JCA that they are complying with regulations. The first gateway point is to satisfy the JCA that the building is accessible by the fire service, which must be determined before the building gets planning permission. Secondly, the dutyholder must satisfy the JCA that key building safety risks are understood and will be managed and that "robust" processes are in place, before building work can start. Thirdly, the JCA must be satisfied that the signed-off design has been followed before occupation can start.

4) More rigorous enforcement

More rigorous enforcement powers. A wider and more flexible range of powers will be created to focus incentives on the creation of reliably safe buildings from the outset. Stronger enforcement powers should align with the Health and Safety at Work Act. The JCA/Local Authority Building Standards should have additional powers to issue improvement and prohibition notices, as well as clear powers to require changes to work that meet Building Regulations. Time limits for bringing prosecutions should be increased to five or six years for "major deficiencies".

5) Higher competence levels

The construction sector and fire safety sector will have to demonstrate more effective leadership for ensuring building safety among key roles including an overarching body to provide oversight of competence requirements. The aim is to move towards a system where ownership of technical guidance rests with the industry as the intelligent lead in delivering building safety and providing it with the flexibility to ensure that guidance keeps pace with changing practices.

6) More effective product testing

A clearer, more transparent and more effective specification and testing regime of construction products must be developed, including products as they are put together as part of a system. There should be clear statements on what systems products can and cannot be used for, with their use made essential. The scope of testing, the application of products in systems, and the resulting implications must be more clearly communicated in plan, consistent and non-technical information. Additional test houses should be established and certified, while test methods and standards should be maintained under a periodic review process.

7) Better information

The review has identified four "key information products" integral to oversight on building safety. They are: the digital record, the fire and emergency file, full plans, and the construction control plan. Hackitt recommends that the creation, maintenance and handover of relevant information should be an "integral part" of the legal responsibilities of clients, principal designers, and principal contractors undertaking works on HRRBs.

8) Better procurement

Principal contractors and clients for HHRBs should devise contracts that specifically state that safety requirements must not be compromised for cost reduction. Tenders should set out how the proposed solution will produce safe building outcomes. Contracting documentation relating to the safety aspects of the building should be included in the digital record.

Comments

I think the report portrays what a lot of (older?) construction professional already felt about the industry, the findings should not be considered as only applicable to HHRBs, but all buildings under multiple occupation.
UK and Scottish Government need to review current procurement methods within the public sector too.

Colin McEwen, 21 May 2018

Well done Neil on a very clearly summary of Dame Judith Hackitt's final report; all of which makes good sense and correlates with our industry's much improved approach to safety over last 15 years.

In my view what Dame Judith proposes is excellent in its own right, but the real test will be whether it is the catalyst for changing over the coming years our industry's approach to quality standards at all stages of design and construction.

Unless as an industry and as individual construction professionals we embrace fully the spirit of Dame Judith's report and more widely the CIOB quality commission recommendations, do not be surprised to find future governments bringing in increasingly strong regulations driving how we work.

I particularly like Dame Judith's reference of clearer responsibilities, 3 gateway sign off and higher levels of competence. Recommendations we can actively embrace today - without need for any further debate.

Mark Beard, 21 May 2018

Fires can also occur during construction and so any new policies also need to cover 'in construction' situations for high rise means of escape.

Hugh, 21 May 2018

What difference will contract clauses that... "specifically state that safety requirements must not be compromised for cost reduction" have?

Surely contracts shouldn't have to spell out "you need to obey the law"? Compromising a legal requirement or a contractual obligation isn't justified anyway.

And putting too much of this kind of unnecessary fluff in a contract makes contracts worse at doing the job they should be doing - clearly communicating key obligations.

Ian Heptiinstall, 21 May 2018

It is good to see that something positive is finally being done regarding fire safety in construction.
The sad fact is that it took the lives of 72 people for the government to act and attempt to put our Industry in order.
Unfortunately I don't think that the final report from Dame Judith Hackitt goes far enough and I for one would like to see much more stringent fire safety laws and regulations put in place to deal with not only high rise or complicated builds but across the entire industry.
House building is a prime example of poor fire safety provision and requires a serious look at as well!

Eric Doel, 22 May 2018

As a Director of a specialist Electrical inspection and testing company i see daily a common issue within the industry. good old COST Versus QUALITY . the construction industry cannot adopt the cheap and cheerful throw away and replace culture that is the norm in society now. Electrical issues are one of the largest causes of fire and ensuring that the electrical system and services are properly inspected and maintained is the only way to reduce this issue. sadly Cost is a factor any body can do a condition report which includes Unable to verify or unable to locate as well as just simply copying previous reports but when the comparison of doing a job right to just getting a certificate is compared the client will 95% of the time go for the cheapest option. No matter what the price they expect for the works to be carried out as per regulations and supply them with the certification they have been asked to supply by their insurance company. Perhaps if clients look at tenders/Quotes like going to the shops for an item of clothing they may appreciate that you have to pay for Quality workmanship.

M Green, 22 May 2018

item 5) Higher Competence Levels.
Who is to have these higher levels???
!) A site manager is assessed at NVQ level 4 or 5, is he not competent to manage the construction of the building to the design and specification of the clients representatives???

2) a tradesperson is assessed at NVQ level 3 is this person not competent to perform their duties to the information provided via management???

3) who will compose this overarching body to improve competence levels,
will they have relevant site experience to match???

4) Has Dame Hackitt relevant site experience to pass comment???

John Anthony, 24 May 2018

This report needs much wider scope the regulatory framework for all building works needs to be more rigorous not just high rise new build residential.

Chris weller, 30 May 2018

Seems like the JCA group is another patch to fill the lack of implementation in the CDM Regulations. If the regulations were adhered to there should be no need for a patch. Like all the other short term .orgs who says they are going to do what is says on the can or will it be another 2 years down the line they are gone but well financed.

Sheila, 2 June 2018

1.On what basis was the 10-storey limit reached for a building to be classed as a HRRB?
Why not 7 storeys, or 14, or........?

tony.g, 26 June 2018

Whilst I feel the report is useful ,I think it was commissioned by the government to allay concerns about the late in the day testing it ordered .
I believe the report is not terribly relevant to the question "how did this happen " but that is not necessarily the Author's fault .

Iam not entirely convinced that her background makes her the right person to
compile this report .
It understandably seeks to bring her ex employer the HSE further into the field .
Whilst this may well be necessary the report is not in my opinion particularly
well focused or again directly relevant to the failings now apparent .Perhaps it reflects her limited experience of construction .

Quite how a building of this type and age has been allowed to be occupied with a single means of escape without sprinklers heaven knows .

There are multiple failings to perform their Duty of care ie the contractor the building inspectors and the fire service's inspectors .

Having been built 50 yrs ago there has been plenty of time to remedy the situation .

stephen Johnson C.Eng M.I.C.E , 30 July 2018

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