The Building Safety Act 2022: Enhancing Construction Standards

by Colin McEvoy, National Director PM

The Building Safety Act 2022 (England & Wales) marks a significant milestone in the design, construction and management of buildings through the introduction of vital measures to enhance building safety regulations.

This legislation, which the Government describes as the most significant reform in nearly four decades, aims to address the pressing issues surrounding building safety.

The Act legally obligates both organisations and individuals responsible for building safety, including developers, contractors, and building owners to be competent in ensuring compliance with Building Regulations in design and construction. It establishes a clear chain of responsibility and introduces stricter regulations to prevent incidents like the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

At the heart of the building safety reforms is the creation of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) in England. The Building Safety Act names the HSE as the new Building Safety Regulator.

The Building Safety Act (in Part 4) identifies new duty holders – who will be known as ‘accountable persons’ (APs) – for Higher Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs).

A HRRB is a building in England that is

(a) is at least 18 metres in height or has at least 7 storeys, and

(b) contains at least 2 residential units.

The AP will be the organisation or person who owns or has responsibility for the building though may also be an organisation or person responsible for maintaining the common parts of a building.

The AP will be responsible for assessing and managing the building safety risks in occupied high-rise buildings and will have several related duties, including:

  • managing relevant building safety information – the golden thread
  • engaging with residents
  • setting up a complaints procedure
  • setting up a system for reporting certain incidents

The BSR will assess whether these duties are being complied with and will give a building assessment certificate, if satisfied.

All HRRBs will have to be registered with the BSR within a 6-month period from April 2023 to September 2023.

Key features of the Building Safety Act 2022 include:

Competence: The Act places responsibility on developers, contractors, and building owners to be competent in ensuring compliance with Building Regulations.

Strengthened Regulatory Oversight: The Act grants the Building Safety Regulator enhanced powers to oversee and enforce compliance with building safety standards. It ensures that responsible parties are held accountable for maintaining and improving safety measures in design, construction and in operation.

Duty Holders and Accountability: The Act introduces the concept of duty holders and assigns responsibility to all those who may, through their contribution, create a risk during construction or refurbishment. Duty holders are typically the Client, Principal Designer, Designer, Principal Contractor or Contractor and are required to demonstrate competence and strict adherence to regulatory requirements throughout the lifecycle of a building.

Gateway Process: A new phased Gateway Process will be established, which involves independent checks at each stage of a building’s design, construction, and occupation.

The BSR will exclusively fulfil the role of Building Control Inspector.

Gateway 1 calls for a robust fire statement to be provided as a part of the planning application. This is a more rigorous process as anecdotally; we understand that the BSR is accepting less than 50% of first drafts submitted.

Gateway 2 has the potential to impact more materially as firstly, the content is more significantly more onerous than currently required and secondly, it is mandatory to have building regulation approval prior to commencement.

Gateway 3 ensures that buildings are properly constructed, and the information has been provided to the AP to permit the building to be safely occupied.

A certificate of occupation is required from the BSR and current proposals suggest that the BSR will have up to 12 weeks to consider and certify, if compliant.

This process ensures that safety considerations are integrated from the outset and maintained throughout the building’s lifespan.

Safety Management System: The Act introduces the Safety Management System, which obligates the AP to produce and maintain a safety case for HRRBs for consideration by the BSR upon registration of the HRRB and on a recurring 5-year cycle.

This case will document the steps taken to identify and mitigate potential risks.

The Golden Thread: The Act promotes the use of digital technologies such as BIM for record-keeping and maintaining an audit trail of essential information about the design, construction and operation of buildings.

This enables efficient management by the AP of safety-related data and facilitates effective oversight.

Amendment of Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

This section makes the following amendments to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by calling for;

  • A requirement to record the full fire risk assessment, rather than just the significant findings.
  • The competency of Fire Safety Professionals in undertaking Fire Risk Assessments.
  • A requirement for all Responsible Persons (under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) to record all fire safety arrangements at all times.
  • An obligation on the Responsible Persons to provide residents of buildings with specific information about relevant fire safety matters.
  • A requirement on Responsible Persons, where there is more than one responsible for a premises, to co-operate with each other and co-ordinate their actions to ensure compliance with the order.
  • A requirement on departing Responsible Persons to provide relevant fire safety information to incoming Responsible Person.
  • For buildings subject to the Building Safety Act, the Responsible Person(s) must take reasonable steps to identify any Accountable Person(s) in the building and cooperate with them for the purpose of carrying out their respective duties to collectively manage building and fire safety for the entire building. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the duties of Responsible Persons and Accountable Persons will contribute towards a whole-building approach to building and fire safety.

Stronger Penalties and Sanctions: The Act introduces more severe penalties for non-compliance with building safety regulations. It ensures that those who disregard safety measures face appropriate consequences, discouraging negligence and promoting responsible practices.

In conclusion, the Building Safety Act 2022 represents a critical step forward in prioritizing building safety and accountability. By implementing robust regulations, enhancing oversight, and strengthening penalties, this legislation seeks to prevent future tragedies and create safer built environments for all.

For further information or assistance, please get in contact with Colin McEvoy, our National Director of Project Management on 

Colin McEvoy BSc (Hons) MAPM
National Director

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