On 16th July 2018, Dame Judith Hackitt discussed her findings of the independent Grenfell review that she conducted almost a year ago, this was part of a Barbour EHS webinar. The review specifically focused on building regulations and fire safety in high rise buildings in the aftermath of the Grenfell tower disaster.
A new simple Framework
The report emphasized the need for a new regulatory framework which will cover the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise residential buildings.
During the webinar Dame Hackitt showed a visual depiction of the old regulatory framework that was in place which really clarified how convoluted and difficult to follow the old framework was.
The new regulatory framework Dame Hackitt has proposed is much simpler, which should make it easier to adhere to and more therefore be more effective. The new regulatory framework must also have real authority, so that it can drive the right behaviors and is a “disincentive to chance it” for everyone involved in the construction and maintenance of the buildings. This will create an environment where there are incentives to do the right thing and serious penalties for those who do the wrong thing.
Beyond the build
The Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) applies to all building and construction work and includes new build, refurbishment, extensions, conversions, repair and maintenance. Therefore, this regulation ensures the safety of the people involved with the construction of the building. However, it does not protect the people living within the building.
Dame Hackitt stated the need for a clear representation of risk ownership, with clear responsibilities for everyone involved with the design, construction and, crucially, the maintenance of the buildings. For example, the Client, Designer, Contractor and Owner which is overseen and held to account by a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA). The new JCA will comprise the Health and Safety Executive, Local Authority Building Control and Fire and Rescue Authorities.
The range of the Grenfell review
During the Q&A section of the webinar Dame Hackitt referred repeatedly to the fact that she was specifically tasked with assessing the building regulations and fire safety in high rise buildings. As it was not part of her remit, she stopped short of recommending a ban on combustible cladding but confessed it is a problem that needs to be addressed. Within the Grenfell review, Dame Hackitt admitted that “The safety case regime currently kicks in at 10 floors, there is nothing to say we can’t expand the regime to buildings below 10 floors, but it must be done in a managed way”.
Dame Hackitt also explained that there is a “clear conflict of interest” because at the moment it is possible to pay approved inspectors to advise and regulate you. However, with the new regulations it was clarified that “An approved inspector cannot advise and regulate at the same time”. So, if inspectors are to act as regulators, they need to work for the regulator.
The Grenfell report review sets out over 50 recommendations for the government as to how to deliver a more robust regulatory system for the future. The government will decide when to start the implementation process and a set date has not been decided, however, Dame Hackitt mentioned Autumn time as a possibility. The main message emphasized that this tragedy should shock the whole industry to take steps to avoid anything like this from ever happening again. Hopefully with the introduction of a new, simple but robust framework, it never will.
You can watch the full 1 hour webinar recording here – http://ll4.workcaststr.net/10111/8959265087953501/10111_9_9_103_50257_01_2018071611001133.mp4