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Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024

firex

Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the Building Safety Bill).  The Building Safety Alliance, an independent industry-led ‘not for profit’ organisation, has been formed by representatives of both the public and private sectors. It aims to implement certification of people wishing to deliver the role of building safety manager (BSM) and produce a publicly accessible register of those certified by the scheme. In due course, it will also work with others to evaluate how organisations that wish to deliver the function of the BSM can be assessed as having the organisational capability to do so. It will also look at how to assist contractors and suppliers involved in higher-risk buildings in delivering a competent workforce that understands how to ensure that residential buildings are safe. The role of the Building Safety Manager, which the accountable person will have to ensure is in place, will be to comply with a number of tasks including: Ensuring the conditions in the Building Registration Certificate are complied with to the satisfaction of the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Regulator Ensuring those employed in the maintenance and management of the building’s fire and structural safety have the necessary competence to carry out their roles Engaging with residents in the safe management of their building by producing and implementing a resident engagement strategy Reporting to a mandatory occurrence reporting regime. Building Safety Managers – the future for compliance? Simon Ince, Project Engineer at UL, explores why defining the future role of Building Safety Managers is imperative to improve the standards of building management to protect people from fire and other risks. This is the first of two articles, the second of which can be found here: Competence – A fundamental part of building safety Keeping people safe inside buildings is vital for those responsible for a building’s management, particularly in a multi-occupied residential or a high-risk setting. To keep people safe, those with the duty of care must have a robust management system in place. They must take safety seriously and plan and resource accordingly. Astonishingly, however, many buildings are still managed haphazardly and without structure or control. Sometimes building managers have questionable competence, caused by management teams imposing safety duties on employees without providing sufficient training or support. One new development that will undoubtedly improve the standard of management within buildings is the acceptance of a standard definition of the role of Building Safety Manager (BSM). As part of the work following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt, this key position has been subject to much discussion. A position which was undoubtedly insufficiently defined, vague and open to interpretation as to what responsibilities and duties were required. More importantly, there was little consensus on which key life safety critical roles BSMs must undertake. How must this position be defined? Currently the British Standards Institution (BSI) is rapidly developing, via its Flex project, a Publicly Available Standard (PAS) document that will provide clear guidance on the role of the BSM. This PAS will draw influence from the recommendations made by the Competence Steering Groups Working Group 8, who published “Safer People, Safer Homes: Building Safety Management.” This document sets out the competences required for any person or an organisation holding the role of BSM. What will a PAS for the BSM facilitate? With good management of a building being so important for safety, having an accountable person with defined responsibilities and duties will help with the routine management of the property. The existence of well trained and qualified professionals overseeing vital maintenance, inspections, procurement and repairs should reduce risk and help ensure that issues are dealt with promptly. In addition to the physical fire protection measures, BSMs will help with engaging with residents, keeping structured records and reducing risk to as low a level as is reasonably practical through a safety case approach. This will help improve safety within those buildings in scope and for those owners’ operators who use the PAS as a guide to compliance. Why is this role innovative? The work around the BSM is part of a wider movement to increase accountability, competence and traceability in the housing and construction sectors, and having a BSM taking control of occupied buildings is a smart and obvious thing to do. Can smart and obvious be innovative? Absolutely, as the role of a professional building safety manager is much needed! UL continues to support the drive in the UK for improved standards by offering independent testing, inspection, training and certification services.

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Fire Sector Federation chairman acknowledges frustration at progress to prevent future fires like Grenfell Tower

Introducing a lively debate on Building a Safer Future at the Firex International event held on June 18, 2019 in the ExCel centre in London Michael Harper, who became the Federation’s chairman last year, welcomed the progress made whilst expressing the frustration professionals and residents have concerning the lack of positive actions taken to stop another catastrophic fire. He told the audience of well over 100 that the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) along with many others inside and outside government had been trying to address the myriad of issues in a building system that so clearly failed while also trying to identify the products that can and cannot be used in circumstances like high-rise or high risk buildings. Observing “this has not been an easy or indeed fast task, and in fact it has at times been frustrating and painfully slow”, he added the caveat that “it does of course have to be thorough and meticulous”. Part recalling Churchill’s ‘this may be the end of the beginning’ Michael Harper also emphasised the clear wish to see the public inquiry move quickly into its investigative second phase and for the government’s current building safety consultation to bring into fruition the “bedrock change” of a better building control system. One that “chased down the whole culture and competency of a construction industry that had somehow become complacent if not, in some cases, positively indifferent about fire safety”. Outlining that the Federation had joined with many others to implement 100% of Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report to stop cherry picking or conversely avoid the “too difficult” issues and very recently had also backed the Inside Building campaign to have public finance allocated to assist private tenants remove the cladding from their buildings, Michael pointed out this was no sudden call to action. Indeed, for a number of years FSF members had, he said, argued for a review of building regulations; pressed the case for defining competency; suggested strongly that third party installers offer assured quality; promoted sprinklers and alarms to protect the vulnerable; and argued for better building protection. And this was not because of vested commercial interest but because all FSF members share a common commitment to improve fire safety in the UK. Organisations like FSF often had a difficult task in bringing the diverse views of their members together but he closed his comments by saying he was pleased that on many issues that common commitment had allowed FSF to agree “a common denominator” position in a number of fire safety concerns. Immediately after the introduction to Building a Safer Future a panel of FSF lead officers addressed issues relating to fire strategy, competency, active and passive fire protection. The concern that two years after Grenfell little change had actually happened in regulation, products and practices was raised and debated. The underlying belief that few people really understood fire from a risk perspective, knew how to recognise companies and people who were competent and third party assured, and were unprepared to support a socially responsible industry simply because it cost more to have that quality, were all explored by the panel and their questioners.

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