HSE welcomes draft Bill, whilst Dame Judith Hackitt tells industry “it is not enough to wait for the Bill to become law before they implement changes; we expect them to start taking action now.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has welcomed the publication of the government’s draft Building Safety Bill, which aims to be the biggest change in building safety for a generation.
The publication of the draft bill, on Monday 20th July, follows the announcement made by Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP in January that HSE would create a new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), with the aim of implementing reforms that go further and faster to improving building safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The BSR will oversee the new, more stringent building safety regime for higher-risk buildings, which prioritises blocks of flats more than 18m high or more than six storeys tall in England. It will also have a broader oversight role in the safety and performance of buildings; and in promoting improvements in the competence and organisational capability of all those working in the built environment.
HSE Chief Executive Sarah Albon explained: “HSE fully supports the measures set out in the draft bill to move forward and enhance building safety across England.
“HSE is currently working with other parts of government, key regulators and industry to establish how the new legislation can be implemented in a practical way and create a new regime that improves building safety standards and competence across the industry.”
HSE will also lead the government’s Joint Regulators Group (JRG), which will provide coordinated leadership to local authority and fire & rescue regulators during the transition to the new regulatory regime. It will support the development of close working arrangements between the BSR and local regulators, while continuing to work with early adopters to trial new safety approaches.
The JRG will be chaired by Peter Baker, Director of the Building Safety and Construction Division of HSE, who said: “The BSR will create a new era for building safety, working with wider government, local regulators, industry and residents we want to ensure that a tragedy like Grenfell Tower never happens again.
“Through appropriate use of its enforcement powers under the new regulatory framework, the BSR will ensure that building safety risks are being properly managed and controlled throughout the lifecycle of a building. It will also hold those with legal duties to account for significant failures.”
He added: “In my role as chair of the JRG I will work together with members to ensure that the proposals are both robust and practical.”
Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who announced the draft Bill, explained: “Industry should also prepare for the substantial changes that are coming. Many in industry have already been working to improve standards and have shaped and influenced this Bill. Now they must accelerate this work to improve industry wide culture, competence and compliance. The new Building Safety Regulator will work closely with industry to drive a change in culture that prioritises residents and ensures their safety.”
Likewise, Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, said: “I welcome this draft Bill as an important milestone in delivering the fundamental reform this industry needs to make residents and buildings safer. It meets the ambitions and recommendations set out in my review.
“And industry must be in no doubt that it is not enough to wait for the Bill to become law before they implement changes; we expect them to start taking action now.”
The draft Bill was published on Monday 20th July and the government is keen for it to receive further views from parliamentarians, residents and industry via the Parliamentary process of pre-legislative scrutiny, before the Bill is then introduced to Parliament.
View the draft Building Safety Bill here