Report on Post Grenfell responsibilities

The Construction Industry Council has recently published a final report which sets out the roles and responsibilities of various parties involved, that should help prevent a repeat of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The report, Setting the Bar, a new competence regime for building a safer future, is described as a blueprint to improve competence for those working on tall buildings and drive a culture change.

It has been produced by a cross-industry group representing more than 150 organisations in the fire and built environment industries, representing the social housing sector, commercial and residential management, facilities managers, health & safety practitioners, fire safety specialists and construction professionals.

Setting the Bar is the second and final report of the Competence Steering Group and is an update of its interim report Raising the Bar, which was published in August 2019. The work was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 review Building a Safer Future, which itself was commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Fire.

Alongside Setting the Bar, the steering group has also published a separate report covering the new role of building safety manager, Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management. The responsibilities of building designers, engineers, installers, building standards and others are all set down in different annexes to the main report.

The Competence Steering Group (CSG) is set up with the support of the Construction Industry Council, which represents many of the industry’s professional bodies.

The proposed system of competence set out in the Setting the Bar report is made up of four key elements:-

  • a new competence committee sitting within the Building Safety Regulator
  • a national suite of competence standards – including new sector-specific frameworks developed by 12 working groups
  • arrangements for independent assessment and reassessment against the competence standards
  • a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate levels of oversight.

These competence frameworks set out the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours required for specific roles.

Among these is the proposed new role of the building safety manager, whose job specification is set out in the report Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management, from CSG’s working group 8. The contents of this report will be used by the British Standards Institute to develop a new national standard that building safety managers will be expected to meet.

Under legislation which is being introduced by the draft Building Safety Bill, published in July, those deemed responsible in law for the safety of higher-risk building, such as the landlord, will be required to appoint a designate building safety manager.

The draft bill also puts the proposed buildings within the scope of the legislation as multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or above, or six or more storeys in height.

The role of the building safety manager will be to look after the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety in these buildings and establish a clear point of contact for residents for fire and safety related issues. The creation of the building safety manager role was recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Building a Safer Future review of fire safety.

The building safety manager or (BSM) is part of a wider system of people influencing the life safety of a building. This includes the accountable person (AP) who supervises the BSM and will be legally responsible for ensuring that building safety risks to occupants are reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

While the Building Safety Bill, as drafted, is focused specifically on the fire safety and related structural issues on high rise buildings, it is being recommended that the role of the building safety manager is extended beyond this to controlling other hazards that could harm residents, such as air and water quality.

Chairman of Working Group 8, Anthony Taylor said: “It is fully understood that the immediate concern is to deliver safe homes to those in ‘higher risk residential buildings’, but we have anticipated that the role model and management systems should be rolled-out across the whole residential property sector during a reasonable and sustainable transition period to support the wider culture change needed”.

He said that a wider role for the building safety manager beyond just fire issues would be ‘of specific importance in managing the risks associated with any commercial elements of ‘mixed use’ operations often located below/within the residential elements of buildings.

Chairman of the Competence Steering Group and chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, Graham Watts, said: “This is a ground breaking piece of work that will help raise the standards of people who own and manage residential blocks, and provide assurance for those that live in them”.

The Full Report Setting the Bar and accompanying working group annexes can be downloaded at