Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
May 1, 2018

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Ministers urged to resist “industry pressure” over desktop studies

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to resist “industry pressure” to keep using desktop studies as a means of proving whether building materials are safe.

The chairman of the LGA, which represents all the local authorities in England and Wales, Lord Porter said last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy has exposed a building safety system that is not fit for purpose.

Lord Porter added the “use and misuse” of desktop studies is at the “heart of the problem” and they should no longer be used for cladding systems on high-rise and complex buildings.

Last month, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on plans to either restrict or ban completely the use of desktop studies as a way of assessing the performance of external cladding systems.

The proposals come directly as a result of the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her interim report last year, which recommended the use of desktop studies be restricted.

A desktop study is a means of assessing whether an item is safe in lieu of a fire test.

“Unfortunately, upon a close reading of the consultation’s impact assessment, there is the admission that the Government’s proposals could result in more desktop studies,” said Lord Porter.

“Meanwhile the document does not offer a ban as a fully-fledged option.

“It is vital that the Government resists industry pressure that seeks to allow this continued use of these studies as a minimum,” added Lord Porter.

The peer also referenced the recent research by the Association of British Insurers and the Fire Protection Association, which claimed the laboratory tests used to check the fire safety of building material are inadequate.

“These findings make it clear that the Government must change the rules so that all material in cladding and insulation systems on complex and high-rise buildings has to be non-combustible,” said Lord Porter.

“The British Standards Institute has said that reforming the test would take 18 months. Building owners need clarity now as they seek to replace flammable cladding and insulation. Using non-combustible material only would provide that clarity.

“The tragedy at Grenfell Tower must never be allowed to happen again and no one should have to live in fear about their safety, be that in the buildings they live in, work in or visit,” he added.

Fire Safety in 2023 eBook

SHP's sister site, IFSEC Insider has released its annual Fire Safety Report for 2023, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry.

Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments