‘In the early hours of 14 June 2017, a fire spread through Grenfell Tower. Seventy-one people died, many homes were destroyed and countless lives have been affected?This tragic incident should not have happened in our country in the 21st century. We now all have the opportunity to respond in a way that will lead to lasting change that makes people safer in the future.’
– DAME JUDITH HACKITT, Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety
The seismic impact of the Grenfell Tower fire on the construction industry is still being felt more than a year on. The government’s immediate response to the tragedy was to commission an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. The aim of this review was not to investigate Grenfell Tower, but rather to make recommendations on a future regulatory system.
Dame Judith Hackitt was appointed to lead the review, and in her initial December 2017 report, she concluded that the regulatory system covering
Although it is currently unknown when and to what extent these recommendations will be adopted, the
Independent oversight by a new authority
While the new regulatory framework is focused on buildings above ten storeys, the ideas put forth in the report are intended to have broader application to a wider range of buildings. Consequently, there is no reason why duty holders of buildings below this height should not follow the same guidelines and principles of the new regulatory framework.
Clearer duty holder roles and responsibilities
The report recommends adopting an approach similar to the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2015, which govern the health, safety, and welfare of construction projects.
The report further specifies that there should a clear and identifiable duty holder who is responsible for the building safety of the whole building. This duty holder should be the building owner or landlord, who would not only maintain the fire and structural safety of the whole
The report also proposes stricter penalties for those who fail to comply with the standards which fall within the framework. The
It is crucial that contractors properly document their work, maintaining records of tests, inspection reports, and changes made. The culture of careless recordkeeping and sloppy paperwork must come to an end.
The report also advocates for a more rigorous and transparent product testing regime, finding the current process for testing and ‘certifying’ products to be overly complex.
The overall implication of the
Although legislative change will take time to fully implement, it can only benefit contractors to begin to adjust their behaviour now to conform to the higher safety standards they will be held to. There will be far stricter enforcement of building safety regulations, and a breach of such regulations could be considered a criminal offence, subject to hefty fines or even imprisonment.