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Hackitt: ‘Moral obligation’ on construction to step up safety

5 August 2020
Dame Judith Hackitt

The construction industry has a “moral obligation” to step up to a different approach on building safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

That’s according to Dame Judith Hackitt, as she presented the Industry Safety Steering Group’s (ISSG) second report on the progress of culture change in the construction sector.

Hackitt, who chairs the ISSG, said she was pleased to “real progress” from some parts of the industry but that it was “equally frustrating” to see others waiting to see what the new regulatory regime will look like before taking action.

Hackitt said: “Given the clear evidence that continues to emerge of concerns about high rise building safety which go beyond ACM cladding, we believe that there is a moral obligation on the industry to step up to a different approach. In the last few months my thoughts have often turned to those who are locked down in buildings where they know there is rectification work that needs to be done and my heart has gone out to them. We are determined to continue our work to deliver change.”

The ISSG said in its report that there is still a lack of “widespread, proactive leadership” in construction on the issue and that people and organisations needed to go further to lead and own safety standards.

Huge competence challenge

It added that not all in the industry have embedded good practices and embraced the changes required to ensure the safety of buildings, despite the work of the Competence Steering Group and that there was a still a “huge challenge” for all those involved in competence work to ensure that firms working on higher-risk residential buildings were competent to do so.

While the ISSG had seen examples of effective collaboration in the sector to find solutions and drive change, its reported added that the Group was “frustrated” there was not currently an “effective means” of highlighting and rewarding the behaviour.

The ISSG said it would continue to challenge the industry on the “pace and progress” of culture change ahead of the new building safety legislation and the operation of the new Building Safety Regulator and to highlight best practice as well as the barriers hindering further progress.

Commenting on the release of the report, Caroline Gumble Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) chief executive said: “This report highlights the important role leadership has to play in affecting change. These safety improvements make good business sense but the industry must own its standards and look beyond the minimum requirements set out in regulation.

“CIOB members set the tempo within the industry and I urge them to use all their influence and professionalism to improve standards. Not just on the projects and teams they lead but calling out and challenging poor standards wherever they might encounter them. Together we will keep raising the bar.”

Comments

Why after all those years are we still only ‘stepping up’. Ask yourself that

Sheila Anderson, 6 August 2020