|10 mins read
Unless you have been locked up or are living on a desert island you will be aware of the Grenfell Tower disaster and its devastating consequences. There is, as a result, a major review of the existing fire regulations and protocols that will affect you and your business.
Prior to Grenfell but in the system virtually unnoticed there are also major changes in sentencing guidelines. This means that for all Health and Safety non-compliances, fines are now levied not on a specific level, but directed at the value or worth of the business. Fundamental changes in UK law now makes owners, tenants, and managers legally and wholly responsible should safety issues arise. This could mean large fines or even a custodial prison sentences for transgressions.
Secondly and following on from Grenfell, the government commissioned an independent review of the Building Regulations & Fire Safety, chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt (formerly head of the HSE). She is due to report fully in the spring/summer of 2018.
THE INTERIM REPORT: DECEMBER 2018
We now know that the interim report produced in December 2017 pulls no punches and states the current fire regulatory regime “is not fit for purpose”. The report states that regulations are too complex and so poorly implemented.
The report calls for “simplified and unambiguous” regulations and clearer guidance on fire safety. It suggests as an interim measure the government should consider “presentational changes” to improve the clarity of Approved Document B, which accompanies the Building Regulations.
It further states that “The regulations themselves are pretty simple but what sits below them
is a whole series of guidance documents which stacked on top of one another would be two feet high.”
Hence it is cumbersome and as a result inconsistent in application.The report calls for radical change in fire safety culture, as many “experts” look for ever more ways to work around it.
A cultural and behavioural change as seen in the construction industry is now required.
PHASE 2 OF THE REVIEW
It is suggested that “regular” fire risk assessments not review’s need to be carried out by qualified parties at least annually or whenever a building is altered.
Similarly, the “Responsible persons” under existing Fire Safety Orders are frequently not identified and there is no doubt that these changes will increase the scrutiny of their role and more strictly enforce what is required of them, their duties and responsibilities.
Phase two of the review (to be published in Spring/Summer 2018) will make the changes clearer and focus upon the detail for a simpler risk-based regulatory system. There is no doubt that more will be required in terms of preparation and managing better defined responsibilities.
What we can be sure of is that there will be changes to legislation, Approved Codes of Practice, and enforcement with an emphasis on cultural change within your business.
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