Hackitt Review: British Safety Council voices concerns
The British Safety Council has voiced concerns around some of the recommendations in last week’s report by Dame Judith Hackitt into improving fire safety.
In a statement, the Council said while it welcomed many of the report’s recommendations it also had several concerns, particularly around the practicalities of creating a joint authority to oversee fire and building safety.
In particular, it said such an authority would require joint working across three Whitehall departments at a time when resources are already stretched. It also questioned how the proposal to fund the new joint competent authority though a cost-recovery programme.
“There is a widespread feeling that the HSEs fee for intervention programme has significantly damaged relationships with duty holders and established a ‘parking ticket’ approach to regulation,” said the Council in a statement.
“We are also concerned that a chargeable regime could also introduce new non-regulatory burdens or ‘blue tape’.”
The Council also said it had “significant concerns” about making guidance and monitoring the sole responsibility of industry bodies.
“We suggest that it would be more effective to adopt a model similar to the one in place for health and safety, with a lead from the regulator,” it added.
And it also questioned Dame Judith’s recommendation for a single digital record to serve as a lifelong log for each building, particularly as the public sector has “a poor record for [the] roll out of large-scale technology projects”.
The report by Dame Judith was published last week and set out a number of recommendations, but stopped short of calling for a ban on combustible cladding.
The British Safety Council’s policy standards and communications director, Louise Ward, said: “The inquiry’s recommendations, drawn on the principles established under the Health and Safety at Work Act, are ambitious and far reaching; they set the right tone for a new regulatory system that will be fit for purpose in 21st century Britain.
“The Government should extrapolate this robust, effective and proven regime to inform the developing theme of residents safety. We feel that the adoption of a risk-based goal-setting model is appropriate and will underpin proportionality and flexibility.
“We urge the Government to set an ambitious timeline for a second phase of work, which should extend to other buildings,” added Ms Ward.