The Building Safety Act 2022 was a huge step forward in driving accountability for the construction and building management sectors. The act amended numerous guidelines for the management of high-rise buildings, its main innovation has been the creation of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been named as the BSR ahead of the implementation of the new laws in April of this year. The HSE has been involved with these reforms since the beginning, working in an advisory capacity with the emergency services during the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.
The BSR has been named the regulator for all high-rise dwellings of more than eighteen metres or seven stories in height in England.
Their work covers both residential and mixed-use buildings and will be done in conjunction with local authorities, emergency services, and building control bodies to effectively manage fire risks and maintain buildings to a safe, reasonable standard.
The ‘Golden Thread’
All those responsible for safeguarding buildings will need to maintain a ‘Golden Thread’ of information that will help manage risks throughout a building’s lifespan.
According to Government guidance: “It will be the duty of the people responsible for a building to put in place and maintain a Golden Thread
Each residential building will have someone responsible for managing the safety of the building by reducing fire spread, risks, and structural failures. The HSE is now a statutory consultee for high-rise buildings and will
provide advice on fire safety matters to the emergency services.
For residents and the future
As well as strengthening the accountability process for managing high-rise buildings, the BSR will offer advice and support for all residents of said dwellings. They will have access to more information about their building’s safety and be more involved in the management of risks.
Residents will also be provided with effective routes to challenge their building owners on issues of fire and structural safety, and escalate their concerns to the BSR directly, if necessary. The BSR will advise Government as well as oversee and influence the competence and performance of the whole built environment.
The new reforms have been designed to not only make high-rise dwellings safer, but to hold individuals and organisations accountable for the improper handling of information and fire safety measures. The establishment of a ‘Golden Thread’ is a massively beneficial move that will help those responsible for maintaining buildings ensure dwellings are safe.
News of further regulation updates may not be welcome to installers, especially given the situation around Approved Document F (ADF). Despite being introduced last June, installers are still facing issues with compliance, not least because of the backlash from homeowners who believe their introduction is unnecessary.
Many installers are caught between a rock and a hard place regarding the necessity of installing TVs to meet ADF requirements, with many homeowners viewing them as directly compromising the energy efficiency of their homes.
However, the focus of ADF is the worsening health of our nation and its direct correlation to living in unhealthy homes. We are in a situation where we need to improve airflow in buildings and reduce moisture vapour created by normal living practices, yet we still have to keep buildings at a comfortable temperature.
The debates will continue regarding ADF, yet further tightening of regulations is coming in 2025 which, once agreed upon, will give us a much shorter amount of time to act.
As an industry, we need to come up with something new and sensible that helps solve the issues surrounding the health of buildings, energy efficiency and standards of overall workmanship.
Without doing this and uniting behind a position for our sector, we will forever remain in the cold.