Snelling: time to take centre stage on safety

APS president Mark Snelling has set out plans for the association to play a bigger role in improving industry competence to meet the requirements of new legislation.

Snelling, who took up the post in March, said that the organisation saw its remit as one promoting project safety across all its forms relating to the built environment – “health and safety, building safety and fire safety”. 

Mark Snelling
Mark Snelling: “The industry needs to start working together in a far more coherent manner”

He added: “It’s a time of huge change and it’s a chance for APS and its members to grow, particularly in providing training to meet new requirements for competence. 
We are an organisation that has historically delivered guidance, training and member development and we intend to build on that.”

The first of its new competence initiatives is the launch of a register for principal designers. This is a new dutyholder role in England introduced under the building regulations and is a separate role to principal designer for CDM compliance. 

Principal designers will be held responsible for making sure that all projects of all types are designed to comply with building regulations. The transition period to put this in place ended on April 6 2024. 

To be listed on the new APS register applicants will be assessed against competence requirements set out in PAS 8671.

Reviewing accreditation

Snelling said: “APS is in the process of reviewing existing member accreditation against BSI Flex 8670 [soon to be replaced by BS 8670] – which sets out the core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks – and then considering how we might take that forward to make sure that members, if they wish, can be reassessed to meet the current requirements against BSI Flex 8670.” 

He added: “We will almost certainly be delivering an organisational capability assessment accreditation scheme as well. But we are planning all of this very carefully so that we do not miss the opportunity that the current environment presents – but neither do we want to overload and fail.”

These initiatives form part of the organisation’s three-year plan, which Snelling has been involved in drawing up as APS president elect. 

He said APS would also be looking to “link up with other professional bodies to share training opportunities. We have very specialist knowledge and very specialist members able to provide that information.” 

He added: “The industry needs to start working together in a far more coherent manner. And that was Dame Judith Hackitt’s challenge. But I think that the industry still operates in too many silos.”

Driving change

Asked whether he was optimistic more generally about the sweeping changes in building safety, Snelling said: “There are lots of people who would like the status quo to stay. But I think the government and the regulator are going to drive this change. It’s not going to happen overnight – my work on organisational capability [the management of competence] has shown me that.

“Some people know how to do their job because they have worked in it a long while. But if they were asked to demonstrate what they know about the building regulations – which is now fundamentally part of the role of all sorts of dutyholders – and evidence that, a lot of people will be found wanting, which organisations are beginning to discover.” 

Snelling added: “There has been an absolute reliance on building control for compliance. But the role of building control was never the gatekeeper to the building regulations or an audit function to demonstrate compliance. 

“The law now makes it very clear that every dutyholder is responsible for their own actions and building control have been given categoric instructions: you do not give 
advice on projects.” 

Snelling takes over from Ray Bone, who remains as an adviser to the board of directors. His term of office will run until 31 January 2027. 

About Mark Snelling

Mark Snelling is a health, safety and fire consultant for The Property Institute. He is a founder director of the Building Safety Alliance and technical author of its organisational capability standard. 

Snelling is also the technical author for The Property Institute’s health and safety and fire safety guidance notes. 

A fellow of APS, he is a chartered builder (MCIOB) and certified member of IOSH 
(Grad IOSH). He has written guidance for APS and the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management.

Snelling is involved in the Home Office’s Fire Safety Reform Implementation Review Group and the Guidance Technical Group, the BSI Flex 8670 Core Criteria for Building Safety in Competence Frameworks Steering Committee and the PAS 8764 Fire Risk Assessor Competence Steering Committee.

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