‘Culture change’ recommended in regulations review

‘Culture change’ recommended in regulations review

DAME JUDITH Hackitt’s interim review of building regulations and fire safety believes that the current system for fire safety in high rises is ‘not fit for purpose’.

The interim report from Dame Judith’s review of building regulations and fire safety, begun earlier this year in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, has found that a ‘universal shift in culture’ is needed to rebuild trust ‘among residents of high-rise buildings’. This is also required to ‘significantly improve the way that fire safety is assured’, and the report calls on the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to ‘come together’ to address ‘shortcomings’.

Its findings so far include that a ‘culture change is required’, with industry taking greater responsibility ‘for what is built’, with this change needing to ‘start now’. In turn, the report found that the current system for ensuring fire safety in high rise buildings is ‘not fit for purpose’, while finally a ‘clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns and be listened to, must be created’.

Six broad areas have been set out for change, including ensuring regulation and guidance ‘is risk-based, proportionate and unambiguous’, as well as ‘clarifying roles and responsibilities for ensuring that buildings are safe’. The third area is ‘improving levels of competence within the industry’, while fourth is improving the ‘process, compliance and enforcement of regulations’, while the ‘clear, quick and effective route’ for residents to voice issues was fifth.

The final area for change was the improvement of ‘testing, marketing and quality assurance of products used in construction’, with Dame Judith having ‘consulted widely in developing her interim report and will continue to do so in the coming months before making her final recommendations’. The second phase will include ‘targeted work in partnership with the sector and other stakeholders’, including a summit with government and building industry representatives, before a final report in spring.

Dame Judith stated: ‘I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. In many areas there is a lack of competence and accreditation.

‘While this does not mean all buildings are unsafe, it does mean we need to build a more effective system for the future. That is why I am today calling for the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to identify how to overcome these shortcomings together.

‘I have been deeply affected by the residents of high rise buildings I have met and I have learned so much from them. These buildings are their homes and their communities. They are proud of where they live, but their trust in the system has been badly shaken by events of the last few months. We need to rebuild that trust.’