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26 October 2020 - Latest Newsletter from CROSS Confidential Reporting of Structural Safety

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The origins of the recent draft Building Safety Bill lie in the Building Safety Programme, details of which were published in July 2017 following the Grenfell fire, to make sure that residents of high-rise buildings are safe – and feel safe – now, and in the future. This was followed by Dame Judith Hackitt’s report Building a Safer Future in 2018. Her report proposed a fundamental shift in the approach to regulation, from prescription to one of the professions looking at buildings as a whole and demonstrating that they are safe. Although there had been much public focus on Grenfell and the role of cladding in that incident, the Hackitt review took a much broader view to tackle the basic challenge of making Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs) safe overall. The next step was Government consultation in 2019 on proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system which was followed by the publication of the draft Bill. It will be 2021 before this passes through Parliament and perhaps 2022 before the secondary legislation flowing from it is implemented. One of the principal features is the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) as an addition to the existing roles for HSE. Their many duties will include taking over the building control regime for all buildings, although with an initial emphasis on HRRBs, and focusing on structural safety and fire safety, which means that engineers will be heavily involved throughout the process. For some this will be business as usual, whilst for others it will mean learning additional skills and becoming conversant with new management and technical processes. Very importantly, the Bill makes provision for regulations for competence and this is not limited to work on higher risk buildings. The requirements relevant to structural engineers are being addressed at the highest level within IStructE so that members can be aware of any new requirements well in advance. Included in the Bill there is a requirement for the Building Safety Regulator to establish and operate a system for the voluntary reporting of information about building safety. The proposal is for this function to be fulfilled through the expansion of CROSS, which will be extended to include fire safety. Work on this has been underway since the start of the year with MHCLG and a greatly expanded and enhanced CROSS will be launched in early 2021. All the reports in this Newsletter are relevant to the requirements in the Bill with a common, and disturbing thread, that persons who are not competent are making unsafe decisions.