Building Safety Alliance: a new key to raising safety standards

Building Safety Alliance

Anthony Taylor is interim chair of the Building Safety Alliance, for which APS is a founding trustee. He sets out its ambitions to help landlords deliver their responsibilities under the Building Safety Act.

The Building Safety Act, which came into force at the start of October, brings many fundamental changes to the way we design, build and manage buildings. There are new duties for owners, designers and constructors – and clearer responsibilities, including tighter control of the way higher-risk buildings (HRBs) are managed and operated. 

Many of you will be aware of the new obligations this will bring for those managing and operating HRBs: the need to develop safety cases that show the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) that all steps are being taken to keep residents safe; the need to maintain a golden thread of information and proper data integration to meet the new dutyholding requirements of the (principal) accountable person; and, of course, the need for clients to set an easily recognisable standard of competence required of individuals delivering work, especially aiding those who may not know what to look for.

For landlords in both public and private sectors, this is new territory.Adopting these requirements across their accommodation – including existing stock – requires new approaches to building management, integration of data and the skilling‑up of their teams. That way they can ensure that those they appoint to undertake building and maintenance are properly competent to do the work.

Building Safety Alliance formed

It is against this backdrop that the Building Safety Alliance was formed to provide a broad alliance across the occupied sector. Since our inaugural meeting in March 2021, we have continued to grow rapidly and we are in the process of turning into a fully fledged legal entity – a charity – with APS as a founder trustee. 

The other trustees include the Construction Industry Council, the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) and The Property Institute (TPI) – essentially all the most senior and important professional bodies in our sector. 

The executive officers of the alliance have already helped in the development of the PAS documents that form the foundation of a more competent workforce for dutyholders and their teams: PAS 8671 (principal designer), PAS 8672 (principal contractor); and PAS 8673: 2022, Built Environment – Competence requirements for the management of safety in residential buildings. 

We continue to help frame the practicalities of implementing the new regime and raising standards through our representation on the BSR’s Industry Competence Committee, and the BSI’s lead committee for the Built Environment (CPB/1), together with other committees dealing with aspects of competence and organisational capability – both of which are requirements of Parts 3 and 4 of the Building Safety Act.

Developing guidance

The alliance was supported from the start by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the HSE (now the BSR). We have an ambitious programme of work through our special interest groups to deliver practical and proportionate guidance.

To give you a flavour, we will be developing guidance to aid those procuring work against a specification to set the standard of competence they require of those delivering the work. This could be used by organisations tendering for work to assure their client that they can and will provide the appropriate staff to deliver the work.  

We want to equip those responsible for managing works within the building to be able to check on the spot that the contractor who turns up to do the work is truly competent to do so, using recognisable standardised criteria. 

One of our special interest groups is tasked to develop guidance, then a scheme, to measure competence and ‘organisational capability’ – assessing the company rather than the individual.  

Look out for our new guidance in the coming months. We have a long road ahead of us raising competence and changing the culture across much of the industry. The alliance and the collaboration it has fostered can help play an important part. The days of workers drilling through fire barriers when doing repairs or installing fire doors so badly they are rendered useless must be a thing of the past.

Visit buildingsafetyalliance.org.uk to find out more. Contact Anthony Taylor, interim chair, at [email protected].

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