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UK Will Adopt New Regulations from Grenfell Review

Friday, December 21, 2018

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The United Kingdom has announced that it will adopt Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell Tower fire review of building regulations “in full” in its aim to make the construction industry “more responsible.”

The review, which was published in May, outlined changes that Hackitt deemed necessary after London’s Grenfell fire killed more than 70 people in June 2017.

The Regulations

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said that the government will adopt all 53 recommendations made by the review in its new plan titled “Building a Safer Future,” including the creation of a Joint Regulators’ Group to test the new regulatory system and a new Standards Committee to advise on new system standards and regulations.

ChiralJon, CC-SA-BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The United Kingdom has announced that it will adopt Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell Tower fire review of building regulations “in full” in its aim to make the construction industry “more responsible.”

The Joint Regulators’ Group will involve the Health Safety Executive, Local Authority Building Control, the Fire and Rescue Services and the Local Government Association.

The plan comes about two months after government officials announced it was banning the use of combustible materials in the exterior walls of new residential buildings 18 meters and taller, a move that was not recommended in the review and the omission of which was harshly criticized by industry professionals.

Instead, Hackitt had said in the review that “Restricting or prohibiting certain practices will not address the root causes,” which she said are ignorance about existing regulation and guidance; indifference about public safety; lack of clarity on the responsibility of roles; and inadequate rule enforcement.

The report went on to say that those issues created a “race to the bottom,” in which projects simply had the goal of being completed the quickest and the cheapest and the report recommended a new standards regulator as the center piece for a reformed system.

“This is most definitely not just a question of the specification of cladding systems but of an industry that has not reflected and learned for itself, nor looked to other sectors,” the report said. “This does not mean all buildings are unsafe.

“The debate continues to run about whether or not aluminum cladding is used for thermal insulation, weatherproofing or as an integral part of the fabric, fire safety and integrity of the building. This illustrates the siloed thinking that is part of the problem we must address. It is clear that in this type of debate the basic intent of fire safety has been lost.”

Response

Reaction to the new regulations has been mixed, with the Royal Institute of British Architects’ chair Jane Duncan saying that, while the plan contained some welcome proposals, it was long overdue.

“With the exception of new regulations for combustible cladding, the building eegulations relating to fire safety remain unfit for purpose, the same as they were when the Grenfell Tower tragedy took place, over 18 months ago,” she said.

“Furthermore, until we see real reform of the procurement processes for construction projects, the pressure to cut costs will continue to incentivize the use of cheaper and ultimately riskier materials, reduction in accountability and a lack of competence and supervision. The government must urgently reform the inspection process, and place a holistic focus on safety and building quality.”

   

Tagged categories: Cladding; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Fatalities; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Regulations; Safety

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