The UK government has described the new Building Safety Bill as bringing about “the biggest changes to building safety regulations in a generation”. Amongst the many reforms contained in the Building Safety Bill (BSB) is the proposal to assign a higher level of accountability to duty holders involved in building sites.
Everyone involved in the building trade will need to be aware of the new responsibilities expected of them under the Building Safety Bill. Here we take a closer look at the ways in which the roles of duty holders are set to change.
Traditional Duty Holders Under CDM
Duty holders are designated as persons or organisations that commission, design and undertake any building work to which building regulations apply. The role of a duty holder is placed on any person or entity that creates a building safety risk in order to make them responsible for managing that risk.
Persons who are duty holders as defined by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are:
- The client
- The principal designer
- Other designers involved
- The principal contractor
- Other contractors involved
Changes to Duties of Existing Duty Holders
Client: Under the BSB, the client will be expected to have in place processes to undertake Mandatory Occurrence Reporting. This involves reporting to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) what are known as ‘structural and fire safety occurrences’.
Principle designer: The principle designer is now expected to have greater involvement in all stages of project, rather than just during planning. This includes a stipulation that when a project completes they must sign off with the principal contractor. It is also likely that questions pertaining to safety cases will be required to go back to the designer.
Principle contractor: Principal contractors will be expected to facilitate the ensuring that the golden thread of information is passed along to the accountable person – a new role outlined below. The ‘golden thread’ is a term outlined in Dame Judy Hackitt’s report as required information to understand a building. As well as any processes needed to protect the building and its occupants.
It is also expected for each of these duty holders to be more closely involved in ensuring building safety from the beginning of a project. Where required, they may need to seek out expertise on fire safety.
Duty holders are also expected to maintain their existing duties during a project, which include:
- Cooperating with other duty holders
- Ensuring communication and the sharing of information
- Organising and implementing systems to plan and manage work
- Ensuring all workers are competent
- Complying with all relevant regulatory requirements
New Duty Holders
Upon completion of any new residential high-rise building, a ‘principle accountable person’ or ‘accountable person’ will need to be appointed. This individual has the legal burden of ensuring building safety, when the building is occupied.
There can be more than one Accountable Person responsible for a building. The appointed Accountable Person will be responsible for performing regular risk assessments and submitting a Safety Case Report to the BSR.
Other duties that fall to this person include:
- Assessing the safety risk of the parts of the building they are responsible for
- Ensuring that all reasonable steps are taken to minimise the possibility of structural failure or fire spread
- Limiting the impact of fire spread or structural failure on occupants and the general public both in and outside the building
- Co-operating with and sharing information with the BSR
- Appointing a building safety manager
Building Safety Manager
The Building Safety Manager’s duty is to facilitate day-to-day fire safety issues for the building. They are to be the principle point of contact with residents. This person may also be the accountable person, or will need to work closely along side them.
The Building Safety Manager will be required to ensure the building is managed in accordance with the Safety Case Report and the relevant Building Assurance Certificate. They must appropriately manage and control all safety risks. To be eligible to become a Building Safety Manager, a person must have relevant health and safety training, skills, knowledge, and experience.
Duty Holders Changes Under the Fire Safety Bill
It is worth noting that alongside the new Building Safety Bill, an amendment to the Fire Safety Order 2005 (FSO) was also introduced.
The Fire Safety Bill states that the duty holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must act to both manage and reduce the risk of fire associated with the building’s structure and external walls as well as entrance doors to individual dwellings that open into common areas.
Under the Fire Safety Bill, duty holders must also:
- Arrange for regular inspections of lifts and report all findings to local fire and rescue authorities
- Review and update evacuation plans
- Ensure individual evacuation plans are available to people who have mobility issues
- Make certain all residents are provided with fire safety instructions that they can understand
How to Find More Information
If you are interested in learning more about the Building Safety Bill, or about health and safety issues in general, visit the Human Focus website. You can find blog posts on the role of the newly created BSR, wellbeing tips for the workplace, and links to accredited training courses on risk assessments, workplace ergonomics, and human resources.