The Building Safety Act 2022 represents a significant milestone in enhancing building safety standards and practices. As the construction industry continues to evolve, compliance with this legislation is paramount to create a safer and more accountable built environment.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 was a wake-up call for the construction industry and policymakers worldwide. In response to the devastating fire, governments and regulatory bodies took action to prevent such incidents in the future. The enactment of the Building Safety Act stands as a significant milestone in ensuring building safety and compliance.
The Act places a greater responsibility on construction companies and the owners of buildings for guaranteeing that the correct safety measures are in place throughout the lifecycle of a building. This means that the companies and owners must ensure that each building in their portfolio is compliant with the law that the Regulator has established, and that the buildings are managed and dealt with according to their degree of risk. Non-compliance by those responsible can have significant consequences, including reputational damage and legal action.
Compliance with the Building Safety Act:
As part of the Building Safety Act, it is a legal requirement that all high-rise buildings 18m or higher with two or more residential units to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator by 1 October 2023. The registration process opened on the 1st of April 2023. The Principal Accountable Person for each building is required to:
- Complete the registration process of their building with the BSR (Building Safety Regulator)
- Perform a building safety risk assessment
- Introduce measures to manage the risks
- Prepare a Safety Case Report for submission to the BSR
What is a Building Safety Case and Safety Case Report?
The Safety Case is all the information used to manage the risk of fire spread and structural safety of the building. The information is used as evidence to demonstrate and justify how these hazards and their consequences are being prevented in the building.
The Safety Case Report is a document that shows how Building Safety risks have been assessed and all the reasonable steps that are being taken to prevent risk. It clearly identifies any major fire and structural hazards in the building and shows how the Accountable person is managing the risks associated with the building. The Building Safety Regulator will use the report to assess and verify the systems for managing, controlling, and mitigating major fire and structural risks in the specific building. It is the primary way the BSR will hold the Accountable Person to account.
What must the Report include?
- A Description of the Building
- Information about the Residents in the Building Relevant to Safety Risks
- Emergency Plans and Preparedness Procedures
- An Assessment of the Risks Residents Face
- Fire Prevention Measures
- Structural Safety
- Services And Utilities Information
- Inspection And Maintenance
The Report must be able to give confidence that the building’s fire and structural risks are identified and managed adequately. Therefore, the PAP must ensure it is continually reviewed and updated to reflect any changes. The Report is assisted by the Golden Thread of information which delivers all information and evidence around the assessment and management of Building Safety risks.
Non-compliance with the Report:
Failure to submit a completed Safety Case Report is a criminal offence under the Act, and high-rise residential safety managers must ensure that the Report meets all the requirements. Non-compliance can lead to serious consequences to those responsible. Some of these include:
- Legal and financial consequences: can lead to fines, imprisonment, and liability claims in the event of a fire or other safety incident.
- Increased Building Safety Risks: If the regulations are not upheld, there would be increased safety risks for building occupants, including risks from structural failure and fire hazards.
- Reputational damage: Building owners and construction companies can suffer reputational damage for not complying and therefore lose opportunities and trust from key stakeholders.
- Delays in project construction: Safety issues will need to be identified and addressed if there is failure to comply with safety regulations, which would cause delay in any projects in the construction stage.
- Environmental harm: Can also result in damage to the environment, pollution and waste and harm to wildlife and natural resources.
- Difficulty selling and leasing: Non-compliance with the regulations would make it difficult to sell or lease the building, especially for residents looking to move or re-mortgage.
- Insurance issues: Insurance coverage for the building would result in increased costs and liability as it would be harder to insure the building.
What is the Golden Thread and why is it so important?
‘The Golden Thread is both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and the steps needed to keep both the building and the people safe, now and in the future.’ BRAC’s summary definition.
The government requires that Duty holders and Principal Accountable Persons create and maintain a golden thread, throughout a building’s life cycle. The golden thread includes:
- The information about a building that allows someone to understand a building and manage it safely.
- The information management to ensure the information is accurate, easily understandable, can be accessed by those who need it and is up to date.
It will ensure that building owners have well-documented and accurate evidence of their risk assessments and safety arrangements as well as supported documentation. It will make it easier for them to manage relevant safety information, providing assurance to both the BSR and residents that measures are in place to manage risk and safety.
The Golden Thread will apply to all the buildings within the scope of the Building Safety Regime. It will use digital tools and systems to enable key information on the buildings to be stored and used effectively to ensure safer buildings. It will be used to support duty holders and the Principle Accountable Persons throughout the life cycle of a building by recording all information.
The Golden Thread brings all information together in a single place meaning there is always one source of truth. It ensures that information on the building is easily accessible to the right people at the right time. It also sets out a new higher standard of information-keeping which will support the BSR in assuring buildings are managed safely.
Further information can be found on this link.
Compliance with the Building Safety Act is imperative for creating a safe built environment. Safety Case Reports play a pivotal role in assessing and mitigating risks associated with high-rise residential buildings. By adherence to the Act and preparation of complete and thorough Safety Case Reports whilst upholding The Golden Thread, duty holders demonstrate their commitment to building safety, and participate in the ongoing campaign for Building Safety in the built environment.