A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the Building Safety Bill).
The Building Safety Alliance, an independent industry-led ‘not for profit’ organisation, has been formed by representatives of both the public and private sectors. It aims to implement certification of people wishing to deliver the role of building safety manager (BSM) and produce a publicly accessible register of those certified by the scheme.
In due course, it will also work with others to evaluate how organisations that wish to deliver the function of the BSM can be assessed as having the organisational capability to do so. It will also look at how to assist contractors and suppliers involved in higher-risk buildings in delivering a competent workforce that understands how to ensure that residential buildings are safe.
The role of the Building Safety Manager, which the accountable person will have to ensure is in place, will be to comply with a number of tasks including:
- Ensuring the conditions in the Building Registration Certificate are complied with to the satisfaction of the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Regulator
- Ensuring those employed in the maintenance and management of the building’s fire and structural safety have the necessary competence to carry out their roles
- Engaging with residents in the safe management of their building by producing and implementing a resident engagement strategy
- Reporting to a mandatory occurrence reporting regime.
Building Safety Managers – the future for compliance?
Simon Ince, Project Engineer at UL, explores why defining the future role of Building Safety Managers is imperative to improve the standards of building management to protect people from fire and other risks.
This is the first of two articles, the second of which can be found here: Competence – A fundamental part of building safety
Keeping people safe inside buildings is vital for those responsible for a building’s management, particularly in a multi-occupied residential or a high-risk setting. To keep people safe, those with the duty of care must have a robust management system in place. They must take safety seriously and plan and resource accordingly.
Astonishingly, however, many buildings are still managed haphazardly and without structure or control. Sometimes building managers have questionable competence, caused by management teams imposing safety duties on employees without providing sufficient training or support.
One new development that will undoubtedly improve the standard of management within buildings is the acceptance of a standard definition of the role of Building Safety Manager (BSM).
As part of the work following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt, this key position has been subject to much discussion. A position which was undoubtedly insufficiently defined, vague and open to interpretation as to what responsibilities and duties were required. More importantly, there was little consensus on which key life safety critical roles BSMs must undertake.
How must this position be defined? Currently the British Standards Institution (BSI) is rapidly developing, via its Flex project, a Publicly Available Standard (PAS) document that will provide clear guidance on the role of the BSM. This PAS will draw influence from the recommendations made by the Competence Steering Groups Working Group 8, who published “Safer People, Safer Homes: Building Safety Management.” This document sets out the competences required for any person or an organisation holding the role of BSM.
What will a PAS for the BSM facilitate? With good management of a building being so important for safety, having an accountable person with defined responsibilities and duties will help with the routine management of the property. The existence of well trained and qualified professionals overseeing vital maintenance, inspections, procurement and repairs should reduce risk and help ensure that issues are dealt with promptly.
In addition to the physical fire protection measures, BSMs will help with engaging with residents, keeping structured records and reducing risk to as low a level as is reasonably practical through a safety case approach. This will help improve safety within those buildings in scope and for those owners’ operators who use the PAS as a guide to compliance.
Why is this role innovative? The work around the BSM is part of a wider movement to increase accountability, competence and traceability in the housing and construction sectors, and having a BSM taking control of occupied buildings is a smart and obvious thing to do.
Can smart and obvious be innovative? Absolutely, as the role of a professional building safety manager is much needed!
UL continues to support the drive in the UK for improved standards by offering independent testing, inspection, training and certification services.