Competence standards on the rise

The construction industry is seeing positive change in the wake of the Hackitt Review, carried out after the tragic events of Grenfell Tower.

One positive step is the publication of the new BSI Flex 8670v3.0 standard. This will provide a set of core principles of competence, including leading and managing safety, communicating safety, delivering safety, risk management, regulations and processes, building systems, ethics, and fire/life safety.

The BSI has also announced the development of the new PAS 8673 standard. The objective of this PAS, which is sponsored by MHCLG, is to specify a framework, setting out the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours that will be required for building safety managers. It is still at an early stage in development, but comments will be welcomed in July 2021.

In a further positive move, in  March 2020, the UK Home Office introduced the new Fire Safety Bill, in an effort to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The Bill became law on of 29 April 2021 and is entitled The Fire Safety Act 2021. It has been set to amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 – sometimes referred to as the RRO or RR(FSO), and has been designed to “ensure that people feel safe in their homes, and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again” in England.

It clarifies who is accountable for reducing the risk of fires i.e. the duty-holder/building owner for multi-occupied, residential buildings (any building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises). They must manage the risk of fire for: 

  • The structure and external walls of the building (e.g. cladding, balconies
    and windows)
  • Entrance doors to individual flats that open into communal areas

The fire risk assessment for a building/premises will therefore be required to cover both of these two areas. Its aim is also to increase enforcement action in these areas. The Fire Safety Act is also designed to provide a foundation for secondary legislation which will not require another Act of Parliament, based upon the recommendations made from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. 

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