Hackitt report competency points to be taken forward

Hackitt report competency points to be taken forward

THE STEERING Group on Competences for Building a Safer Future will ‘take forward’ the final report’s ‘collective recommendations’ on competence.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report on building regulations and fire safety ‘stopped short’ of proposing a ban on flammable cladding, though the government later said it would open a consultation on a ban. Her review was launched last year after the Grenfell Tower fire, with its interim review last December finding that a ‘universal shift in culture’ is needed to rebuild trust ‘among residents of high-rise buildings’.

Now, the group – comprised of ‘many organisations spanning the construction and fire sectors – will take forward the report’s recommendations on competency to ‘improve competences for those working on the design, construction and operation of higher risk residential buildings [HRRBs]’. It is a sub group of the Industry Response Group set up last July after the Grenfell Tower fire to ‘coordinate action and advice to building owners’.

Working alongside the Working Group on Competence – with both groups chaired by Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council – the Steering Group will ‘continue the work on capacity and competence’, while a new group will be set up and chaired by Mr Watts alongside Peter Caplehorn of the Construction Products Association and Peter Yates of the Local Government Association.

The Steering Group stated that the final report ‘identified a lack of appropriate skills, knowledge and experience of those engaged at every stage of the life cycle of higher risk residential buildings as a major flaw in the current regulatory system’, and that it calls for a ‘formal process for assuring these competencies’. The group will develop a plan for an ‘overarching body to provide oversight of competence requirements, and support the ‘delivery of competent people’.

In turn, its scope will be for work on HRRBs, but work will also be carried out ‘on the basis that it is likely to have wider application to other building types’. With a year recommended in the report to complete this work, and as details ‘become clearer’ about the Joint Competent Authority (JCA) recommended by Dame Judith, the groups will ‘consider how this work can best contribute to this evolving process’.

In total, 11 working groups will undertake ‘identifying and developing specific competency frameworks and accreditation pathways’, as well as agreeing and monitoring both competence frameworks and accreditation and reaccreditation, alongside the period in which competence ‘should be reassessed’ and the method for ‘demonstrating or proving’ competence.

Other areas will include work on ‘whether the competence requirements for those working on HRRBs should also be extended to cover other multi-occupancy residential buildings and to institutional residential buildings’. Group chairs and members are ‘being recruited from across’ fire safety, built environment and construction industries as well as owners and managers of HRRBs, with meetings to take place throughout the year on a fortnightly basis.

The Steering Group will also ‘determine arrangements’ for the ‘effective oversight of competence requirements’, in order to ‘support the delivery’ of competent people working on HRRBs, alongside proposing the role and remit of the ‘overarching competence council’. They will also work to ‘identify and fill any gaps’ in competence requirements throughout the HRRB process from commissioning to management.

Mr Watts said: ‘Dame Judith asked the construction and fire safety sectors to continue the work started in response to her interim report and it has been heartening to see the collective commitment from across both sectors, and amongst those who represent building owners, to come together quickly to ensure that these issues are addressed. 

‘Our aim is to ensure a joined-up approach to achieving a comprehensive, coherent and robust framework for the competence of all those creating, maintaining and managing higher risk residential buildings.  It is an excellent beginning and we hope to improve upon the year timescale envisaged by Dame Judith by completing this work in March 2019.’