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February 14, 2022


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Building Safety

Emphasis on need for culture change in built environment from Industry Safety Steering Group’s third report

The third report from the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) on the progress of culture change in the built environment industry was published in January. IFSEC Global summarises some of the key takeaways.

The ISSG was formed to scrutinise the built environment industry’s proposals and progress towards culture change, on behalf of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). The role of the group is to provide constructive challenge, recommend actions, overcome obstacles and make proposals to accelerate change.

Dame Judith Hackitt comments: “This report presents a summary of our activities over the last year, identifies areas where we have seen progress being made but also highlights areas of continued concern. There is a mixed picture – some organisations making excellent progress while others are holding back saying they cannot make changes “just yet” until they see more detail, and are required to do so, in legislation. It has been crystal clear to many of us from the outset that legislation alone will not deliver the outcomes we are looking for. The culture of the industry itself must change to one which takes responsibility for delivering and maintaining buildings which are safe for those who use them.

“But the lack of take up of these vehicles is a serious concern. To date only a small number of the usual players have committed to be part of the Building a Safer Future charter and all that it entails and we have heard repeatedly that there is a low level of demand for training despite the well-known issues around competence across many key disciplines.”

Progress to date

  • The ISSG’s second report, published last year, presented several strong examples of positive action by industry leaders and this year is no different. However, there is still more work for the industry to do to regain the public’s trust. This is starting to happen, but more needs to be done.
  • Encouraging action has been taken by many organisations. There has also been good progress through a number of industry initiatives including the further development of the Building Safer Future Charter and the Code for Construction Product Information.
  • These areas of good practice represent a notable improvement to industry conversations.
  • The government is making good progress towards implementing the new building safety regime with the Building Safety Bill making its way through Parliament, which will bring in the more stringent but proportionate regulatory framework for high-rise residential and other in-scope buildings.
  • The new regime is coming and will affect everyone in the industry as a stronger and more comprehensive regulatory system is built.

Necessary improvements

  • Meaningful, lasting change requires visible leadership and collaboration. Every part of the industry has a responsibility to step up and demonstrate that it understands and will do what is needed.
  • To maintain the focus on building safety throughout the lifecycle of a building, dutyholders must test their approach at every stage of a project.
  • The ISSG encourages the leaders of organisations and industry bodies to come together and set out what they are working to change in their sub-sectors and the specific actions they will take to ensure that the safety of residents is prioritised at every stage of a project. The industry is capable of significantly improving its practices when incentivised to do so.
  • It is imperative that residents are further prioritised moving forward. Over the next year, the ISSG intends to test how organisations are measuring the impact of their engagement and are aiming for continuous improvement in this area. This will also cover how they are encouraging positive behaviours from their tenants, for example on electrical safety and DIY.

According to the document, the next year will be particularly significant for building safety. The Building Safety Bill was introduced in Parliament in July 2021 and is expected to continue its progress towards becoming law.

The industry will also start to see much more from the Building Safety Regulator, who is expected to take a much more active role.

Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities, Lord Greenhalgh, commented on the report, saying: “Significant parts of the industry are failing to do the right thing by residents, and we must protect leaseholders from facing the burden of decades of industry failure.”

He continues: “We will use the Building Safety Bill to overhaul the existing regulatory system for buildings and construction products, so that firms that fail to do the right thing can be held to account and will face greater sanctions for doing so, while leaseholders and taxpayers are better protected from costs that should be borne by others.”

The ISSG will continue to push for positive change across the industry and support and encourage action to prepare for the new building safety regime. This will include pushing for public commitments to these changes.

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