British Safety Council raises concerns about self-certification

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  Posted by: electime      21st May 2018

The British Safety Council has raised “significant” concerns about the effectiveness of self-certification schemes for building standards, and is urging consideration of appropriate regulatory oversight.

The Council proposes that the sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences should be extended to cover fire and building safety and goes further in other areas including Guidance and monitoring, where is says it has significant concerns about making this the sole responsibility of industry bodies. It suggest that it would be more effective to adopt a model similar to the one in place for health and safety, with a lead from the regulator.

In the main, the British Safety Council welcomes the publication of the final report resulting from the inquiry led by Dame Judith Hackitt: Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

Louise Ward, policy standards and communications director at the British Safety Council, said: “The inquiry’s recommendations, drawn on the principles established under the Health and Safety at Work Act, are ambitious and far reaching; they set the right tone for a new regulatory system that will be fit for purpose in 21st century Britain.

“The government should extrapolate this robust, effective and proven regime to inform the developing theme of residents safety. We feel that the adoption of a risk-based goal-setting model is appropriate and will underpin proportionality and flexibility. We urge the government to set an ambitious timeline for a second phase of work, which should extend to other buildings.”

The British Safety Council welcomes the following recommendations:

  • the establishment of a joint competent authority (JCA) to oversee fire and building safety;
  • application of a systems-based approach to the safety of buildings throughout their whole lifecycle;
  • consideration of fire prevention at every stage of design, and a layered approach to protection;
  • application of the outcome-based model for building safety. It promotes flexibility, proportionality and adaptability in the regulatory framework;
  • identification of duty-holders at each stage of the building lifecycle, together with their associated responsibilities and accountabilities;
  • extension of the regime to cover operation and maintenance as well as design and construction of buildings;
  • strengthening of the sanctions regime as part of the new framework and support application of a model similar to that set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act;
  • the call for a digital record to serve as a lifelong log for each building, acting as a single point of assured building-related information;
  • the proposal for interaction with international building safety groups.

At the same time, however, the British Safety Council has concerns regarding the following issues:

Regulatory framework
It is concerned about the practicalities of the proposed establishment of a joint competent authority (JCA) to oversee fire and building safety. This would require collaborative working across three separate regulatory functions and three responsible government departments, particularly as resources are already stretched.

It is also concerned about the proposed funding through a cost-recovery programme. There is a widespread feeling that the HSEs fee for intervention programme has significantly damaged relationships with duty holders and established a ‘parking ticket’ approach to regulation. We are also concerned that a chargeable regime could also introduce new non-regulatory burdens or ‘blue tape’.