The UK government has announced plans to establish a new building safety regulator as part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in order to raise building safety and performance standards post-Grenfell.
The new regulator will give “effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings.” The government also plans to extend the existing combustible cladding ban and accelerate its removal from buildings across the country.
“Building owners are responsible for ensuring their buildings are safe and where there is no clear plan for remediation, the government will work with local authorities to support them in their enforcement options,” the government said in a statement.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the “slow pace” of improving building safety standards would not be tolerated, and that the government was committed to bringing about the “biggest change in building safety for a generation.”
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Jenrick also made clear that from next month he will start to name building owners where remediation has not started to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from their buildings.
Mr Jenrick also confirmed a proposal to extend the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18 metres and said the government would seek views on how risks are assessed within existing buildings to inform future policy. This process could see the height threshold lowered from 18 metres to 11 metres.
IOSH welcomed the commitment to accelerate building safety improvements, but said it needed to see “visible and tangible action” taken quickly.
“While it’s positive to hear the new government declare it won’t tolerate the slow pace of improvement to building safety in the UK, which IOSH and others have raised concern over, we now need to see visible and tangible action, with these announcements just the start of an extensive and active delivery-programme,” said Richard Jones, head of policy and regulatory engagement at IOSH.
“Working with the HSE will be reassuring for many, given it’s a world-class regulator that secures near-universal praise nationally. It has successful experience of co-regulation, as well as of operating permissioning and safety-case regimes and enforcing the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, so should be ideally placed for such a role.”
“In IOSH’s response to the combustible cladding ban consultation, we emphasised the need to remove it from all high-rises in both residential and non-residential buildings.”
“We are pleased that the government is now reconsidering its position and have clarified its guidance for building-owners.”