‘Super clerk of works’ to monitor golden thread
CIOB-led competence working group says new ‘independent construction assessor’ would help facilitate Hackitt’s proposal for managing project information. By Neil Gerrard
A working group led by the CIOB has recommended creation of a potentially critical new role: the independent construction assessor (ICA), effectively an enhanced clerk of works.
The suggestion was made to the Competence Steering Group (CSG) which published its report, Setting the Bar, on 5 October as an update to its interim report, Raising the Bar, from August 2019.
Eleven working groups fed into the report and Working Group 9, led by the CIOB, was tasked with examining and defining the competencies for site supervisors on higher-risk residential buildings above 18m.
CIOB board trustee Pete Dawber, who chaired the group, said the ICA role would facilitate adoption of the ‘golden thread’ of information, which Dame Judith Hackitt recommended should run through projects following her independent review of Building Regulations and fire safety.
The working group agreed that third-party verification was needed to drive this industry change, Dawber said.
“The ICA would identify the information required and check that project elements have been satisfactorily installed and the relevant information captured, using digital technology,” he explained.
“For example, photographic or video evidence would be captured after one work element, then further evidence recorded after a follow-on trade has gone through to confirm the work is
still intact and not damaged. This way, the ICA would maintain the integrity of the golden thread.
“This provides a safety net for the client, so they know that the design has been properly designed and the construction has been executed correctly, including any agreed changes.”
Dawber stressed the role would not diminish the responsibility of designer, contractor or site supervisor for ensuring work meets the required standard.
“The ICA is not personally going to sign off the work; they are specifying and collating the data, and confirming they have all the necessary information,” he said. “That will include sign-off certificates, offsite and onsite inspection approvals for installed materials and components, detailed records of what has been installed and by whom, and evidence of their competence.”
The working group also set out competencies for two roles related to site supervision: construction project manager and site supervisor.
“The construction project manager works with clients, designers, suppliers and subcontractors, overseeing all work from instruction through to handover,” Dawber explained. “The site supervisor makes sure individual workers are competent, materials are installed correctly, and that follow-on trades do not cause any damage.”
He suggested members of bodies like the CIOB would be able to use their chartered membership along with enhanced development to attain whatever competence standard was required. Industry professionals who are not chartered members would need to find a route to say they had self-assessed before obtaining third-party accreditation, Dawber added.
The CSG is recommending that all individuals whose work on higher-risk buildings is likely to affect safety outcomes, or who work unsupervised on these buildings, should meet the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours set out in the competence frameworks developed by the industry.
The four key elements in the CSG’s proposed overarching system of competence:
- A new competence committee sitting within the 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
The CSG’s overarching competency framework is now
out for consultation.
PAS for competencies of principal contractors
CIOB trustee Pete Dawber is leading the working group writing the publicly available specification (PAS) for the competencies of principal contractors.
He urged CIOB members and the wider construction industry to contribute thoughts and ideas on what the detailed competencies ought to be, how they could be implemented and assessed, the challenges, and whether competencies should be rolled out for other types of building.
“This is going to happen but we need to think about how we make it happen as speedily as possible and bring about the necessary cultural change,” he said.