August 17, 2020

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‘Culture change towards competency still needed in construction’, highlights Dame Hackitt

After the ISSG (Industry Safety Steering Group) released its latest report ‘scrutinising progress towards change Post-Grenfell’, Dame Judith Hackitt has reiterated the need for improved culture change and competency in the construction sector.

Dame Judith Hackitt

In her role as leader of the ISSG, Dame Judith spoke about the need to explore ways to recognise and accredit those “who are leading the industry in the right direction”. She added: “We all acknowledge that the coming year is going to be challenging for our economy as a whole and that will include the built environment. There remains a pressing need for new homes and for dwellings that are compatible with achieving Net Zero, but there can be no question of trade offs.”

Within the ISSG’s most recent report, progress towards change post-Grenfell has been scrutinised, with the group believing that competency is still a huge challenge and there is “a lack of widespread, proactive leadership” on building safety. The report provides an update on the work of the ISSG from July 2019 to June 2020.

A series of case studies demonstrating good practice were applauded in the report, though it was made clear that there are many who have not embraced the changes required. Meanwhile, concerns were also raised regarding the impact that COVID-19 may have on the sector – a struggling economy may result in corner cutting to reduce costs, putting lives at risk.

Dame Judith said: “In the last year it has become clear that some parts of the industry are making real progress but it has been equally frustrating for me and my colleagues on ISSG to keep hearing that others are waiting to see what the new regulatory regime looks like before they take action.

“Given the clear evidence that continues to emerge of concerns about high rise building safety which go beyond ACM cladding, we believe that there is a moral obligation on the industry to step up to a different approach.”

One positive to note has been the introduction of a Building Safety Regulator, which Dame Judith Hackitt initially recommended in her review of building regulations and fire safety over two years ago. This introduction has since been confirmed in the publication of the Draft Building Safety Bill.

Within the report’s foreword, Dame Judith highlighted the impending establishment of the Regulator, commenting: “The group [ISSG] will continue to operate until such time as we feel we can hand over our role to the new Building Safety Regulator.”

Additional members of the ISSG include Elaine Bailey, former Chief Executive of Hyde Housing; Fayann Simpson, Resident Board Member at L&Q; and Nick Coombe, Protection Vice-Chair at the National Fire Chiefs Council.

This article was originally published on IFSEC Global.

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