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BSI fast-tracks standards for key building safety roles

21 July 2020

The UK National Standards body BSI is to create a set of fast-track PAS standards for three construction roles key to building safety that are set to be regulated under the new Building Safety Bill.

The new government-funded standards programme, covering the roles of principal designer, principal contractor and building safety manager, aims to meet the need for competent individuals in the sector.

It comes after the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Building a Safer Future, conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt, identified competence shortcomings in the sector. The new standards are a part of the package of measures recommended by the Steering Group on Competence for Building a Safer Future (CSG) which were set out in Raising the Bar.

Under the forthcoming Building Safety Bill, there will be an overarching competence framework standard for everyone working on a building. This is intended to be used by key professions and trades including designers, contractors, fire risk assessors, building managers and others in specialist technical or corporate roles. The framework will provide a set of core principles of competence, including leading and managing safety, communicating safety, delivering safety, risk management, regulations and processes, building systems, ethics, and fire/life safety.

The framework will be developed and made available for use from this autumn. After three periods of public consultation and refinement, it will then be published as a British Standard.

Culture change

Scott Steedman, director of standards at BSI said: “Dame Judith Hackitt’s report asked the built environment industry to change its culture to safeguard people and their properties. In response to the call to put clear responsibility at the heart of the system, BSI as the UK’s National Standards Body, has launched the Professional Competence standards programme. The new industry-led standards will support the Building Safety Bill by ‘raising the bar’ across workforce competence.”

Dame Judith Hackitt, author of Building a Safer Future: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety said: “The work of the Competence Steering Group has been a “tour de force” and all of those who have been involved thus far are to be congratulated. As the baton is handed over to BSI to lead us through the standards development process, the whole industry needs to keep up the pace – not just to agree on the new standards, but to make them a reality in practice. That will require collaboration and cooperation, and demolition of silos – part of the culture change that is so urgently needed.”

Graham Watts OBE, chair of Competence Steering Group and CEO of Construction Industry Council said: “This new stakeholder-led national standards programme, under the guidance of BSI, is the welcome and vital next step in raising and setting the bar for enhanced competence standards for all those engaged in ensuring that buildings are safe for their residents and occupants, through the design and construction or refurbishment phases and into the management of buildings in use. It builds upon the framework of occupational competences across all sectors that the Competence Steering Group has developed over the past two years.”

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