Building Safety Act Regulations: Ensuring a Safer Future
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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 has significant responsibilities. Those responsibilities are best summarised as follows:

  1. Compliance with Regulations: PAPs are required to comply with all relevant building codes, regulations, and standards applicable to the design, construction, maintenance, and inspection of buildings.
  2. Professional Competence: PAPs must possess appropriate professional skills, qualifications, and experience relevant to their role in the building industry. They are expected to keep their knowledge up-to-date with the latest developments in building safety practices and technologies.
  3. Design and Construction Oversight: PAPs are often involved in the design and construction phases of buildings. They have an obligation to ensure that the design plans and construction work meet all applicable safety requirements and standards.
  4. Risk Assessment: PAPs may be responsible for conducting risk assessments to identify potential hazards and risks associated with building projects. They must take appropriate measures to mitigate these risks to ensure the safety of occupants and the public.
  5. Quality Assurance: PAPs are expected to implement quality assurance measures throughout the construction process to ensure that materials, methods, and workmanship meet the required standards.
  6. Inspection and Certification: PAPs may be involved in inspecting buildings at various stages of construction or renovation to verify compliance with building codes and approved plans. They may also issue certifications or permits indicating compliance with safety regulations.
  7. Continuing Professional Development: PAPs are encouraged to engage in continuous learning and professional development activities to enhance their knowledge and skills in building safety practices.
  8. Ethical Conduct: PAPs are expected to adhere to high ethical standards in their professional practice, including honesty, integrity, and accountability.
  9. Reporting and Documentation: PAPs may be required to maintain accurate records, reports, and documentation related to their involvement in building projects, including design plans, inspection reports, and certifications.
  10. Collaboration and Communication: PAPs often work collaboratively with other professionals involved in building projects, such as architects, engineers, contractors, and regulatory authorities. Effective communication and collaboration are essential to ensure that safety requirements are met throughout the project lifecycle.

Challenges faced by PAP’s:

Ultimate accountability for building safety typically rests with the PAP and can never be fully delegated away. Why is this a problem?

PAP’s are generally building owners and managers, not building constructors. Therefore it is unusual to expect them to be fully conversant with a Building Regulation such as the BSA.

As of my last update in January 2022, the Building Safety Act (BSA) hadn’t been fully implemented in many jurisdictions. However, based on the intentions and discussions surrounding the act, here are some potential problems Principle Accountable Persons (PAPs) might face and how they could try to delegate their responsibilities:

Complexity of Compliance: The BSA introduces a range of new requirements and obligations for PAPs, which are complex to navigate and comply with.

Delegation: PAPs are likely to delegate specific tasks related to compliance with the BSA to qualified personnel within their organization or external consultants.  Getting these appointments correct in terms of scope and legal clarity is critical.

Liability Concerns: In the event of a building safety incident and the PAP not being able to suitably demonstrate good practice and due diligence the they are personally liable for prosecution.

Resource Constraints: Implementing the requirements of the BSA may require substantial financial resources, as well as time and personnel commitments – it is likely viewed as an annoying distraction. PAPs, particularly those in smaller organizations or with limited budgets, may struggle to allocate sufficient resources, attention and focus to meet these demands.

Changing Regulatory Landscape: The regulatory environment surrounding building safety is constantly evolving, with new requirements, guidelines, and best practices emerging over time. PAPs must stay informed and adapt.

Technological Challenges: The BSA emphasizes ‘Golden Thread’, the use of technology in ensuring digital record-keeping and information-sharing systems so as to improve building safety management.

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.