Draft Building Safety Bill

This month we have a guest article by Chris McGrath providing an overview of the Draft Building Safety Bill that will aim to improve building and fire safety, so that people will be, and will feel, safer in their homes.

Why this Bill?

On 14th June 2017 a fire broke out at the Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey residential tower. Failures in the building’s design and maintenance caused the fire to spread at high speed. As a result there were 72 fatalities and 151 homes were lost. A major reform was needed.

The Scope of the Bill

It will cover all higher risk buildings.  This will include all multi-occupied residential buildings, (new or existing) of 18 metres or more in height, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first).

Expectations to improve safety and performance

The expectation is to reduce the risk of fires spreading across multiple dwellings. Also to reduce the risk of major fires.  However, the proposals are not expected to have a material impact on the number of fires.

The Bill includes key new roles, functions and responsibilities

 

The Building Safety Regulator
  • The Building Safety Regulator will introduce a better safety system.  In addition they will be able to impose sanctions and regulations to ensure this happens.
  • They will provide a more stringent regulatory framework to implement a stronger focus around building safety for developers and landlords.
  • They will also instruct an industry-led competence committee, publish non-statutory advice and guidance for various sectors.
  • The Regulator will also take enforcement action.  They will be able to impose sanctions on the corporate bodies or building control companies that do not meet regulatory standards.
Duty holders
  • Duty holders will implement a system in every building to ensure that the person, or entity, that creates a building safety risk is responsible for managing that risk.
  • The building cycle will be split into gateways – phases of the building’s life – with different duty holders for different gateways. For example, the duty holder for the design phase of the build will be the principle designer. For the construction phase, it will be the principal contractor.
  • The regulator will assess the gateway at each handover.  A ‘golden thread of information’ will connect these different phases. This will include details about the original design and construction, as well as details on the changes and upgrades to the building during its life cycle.
  • Once the building is occupied, the duty holder will become the accountable person. The accountable person is usually the building owner.
Accountable Person’s Responsibilities
  • The Accountable Person will submit a Residents Engagement Strategy (which will include a complaints procedure) to the Building Safety Regulator.  They will also listen and respond to concerns and ensure residents are heard.
  • Their responsibilities will also include developing a Safety Case Report.  This will be submitted to the Building Safety Regulator as part of application for a Building Assurance Certificate.
  • In addition they will conduct and maintain a Safety Case Risk Assessment (on new and existing buildings).  They will also appoint a Building Safety Manager to oversee it day to day.
Safety Case

This is a full building description that explains how the fire and structural risks in a building are being managed by the Building Safety Manager.  It will include –

  • An explanation and justification of the approach being taken to manage risks.
  • A hazard and risk assessment.
  • A summary of mitigation measures.
  • The approach to risk management.
Building Safety Manager
  • The Building Safety Manager will support the accountable person in the day-to-day management of the building.  Above all they will ensure that safety standards are adhered to.
  • They will also communicate the work that has taken place on the building to stakeholders.  This will ensure that the building is meeting the regulator’s requirements.  Also that it is on top of any advice or non-statutory guidance put in place by the regulator.
Cost to Leaseholder

Under the new plan, a new “building safety charge” will be set up for leaseholders. Fire Safety works are currently paid for through the service charge. This new charge will be separate to the service charge. The money will need to be held by the Freeholders in a separate account (held by a financial institution). This money will only be available for Fire Safety works.

If the freeholder has not provided a clear breakdown of costs, leaseholders will also be allowed to refuse payment if the charge is deemed “unreasonable”. However, under the new rules, leaseholders will be required to pay the fire safety charge within 28 days of when the bill was issued.  They will be required to cover some of the new measures brought in under the bill.  This will include items such as paying for a Building Safety Manager and the day-to-day management of the building.

New committees
  • A Building Regulations Advisory Committee, to provide evidence-based guidance on new issues that emerge in the built environment sector.
  • Also a new committee for industry competence.  This will overcome the fragmented and inconsistent competence of workers and managers that currently exists in the building safety sector.
  • In addition, a new residents panel will be put in place to ensure residents have a voice in the changes being made to building safety guidance. This will include residents of high-rise blocks and representative tenants groups.
New Homes Ombudsman

A New Homes Ombudsman will allow a better mechanism for new home owners to make complaints against developers about the quality of the construction. (There is currently no mechanism for new home owners to make these complaints.) The Ombudsman will work with developers to come up with a code of practice that could be used in relation to sales, marketing and standard and quality of workmanship.

 

The full details of the Bill can be found on the Government website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-building-safety-bill

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

Display Screen Equipment

Prolonged working with computers can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain.

Research has found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. These aches and pains are sometimes called Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs). These can include a range of medical conditions such as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).  In addition nine in ten British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their workforce’s sight, according to a new study commissioned by the charity Eye Health UK and Vision Express Opticians. Read more

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

The new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulation became law on 21 April 2016.  There is a two year transition period until its full enforcement in April 2018.  The main changes put the onus on manufacturers to provide good quality equipment and provide the necessary information and certification, it is hoped that this will put an end to cheap inferior imports.
Categories for PPE have also been changed – Read more

Chemicals Stocktake

The final registration deadline under the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation will take place on 31 May 2018. Firms manufacturing or importing substances in low volumes, between 1 and 100 tonnes per year, are being urged by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to start preparations for registration.

Read more

EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation

On 13 December, new legislation (the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011) will require food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, for example in catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. Read more

New Petroleum Regulations

Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014

Are you aware that the legislation on storing petrol is changing?  Although existing health and safety responsibilities will remain the same, the new Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 will come into effect on 1 October 2014 and replace existing petrol storage legislation which will be withdrawn. Further information can be found here http://www.hse.gov.uk/fireandexplosion/petroleum.htm

Health & Safety Law Poster

The HSE updated the Health & Safety Law Poster in 2009, but gave employers five years to replace the old ones – you have until 5 April 2014 to replace 1999 posters with the 2009 one, or issue the relevant leaflet to employees.

Further information can be found here http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/lawposter.htm

 

RIDDOR

From 1st October 2013 the requirements to report accidents to the HSE under RIDDOR have changed. The main changes will be to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease to be replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness
  • Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting Read more