Updates to building safety regulations have been floated for a number of years now, picking up momentum in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in July 2017. Many of the changes have been long overdue, so the new regulations will be welcome to many in the health and safety industry, as well as the residents and property owners it will protect.
After many parliamentary debates and amendments, the regulations passed royal assent, becoming law on April 28th 2022.
In this article, we will summarise what the changes mean for health and safety practitioners and duty holders.
What is the Building Safety Act 2022?
UK Parliament summarises it as: “a bill to make provision about the safety of people in or about buildings and the standard of buildings, to amend the Architects Act 1997, and to amend provision about complaints made to a housing ombudsman.”
So, what are the key changes to the regulations it supersedes? As mentioned, the bill came to being following the Grenfell tragedy and the necessary changes to building safety the disaster revealed were urgently required.
The review into the safety measures at Grenfell Tower revealed that industry reform into the construction and maintenance of residential buildings was required to ensure the health and safety of residents. The bill means building developers can now be held to account if their constructions are not safe. It also aims to act as a preventative measure to avoid such disastrous loss of life happening again. The bill aims to be a once in a generation overhaul of building safety standards.
What should businesses be aware of?
We’ve summarised the key information included in the bill, so you don’t have to read to entire document.
New building safety regulator
A new Building Safety Regulator has been preserved into law. This will ensure that new enforcement powers and sanctions can be carried out with authority. The act simplifies current building safety regulations, making it possible for the new higher safety standards to be met consistently.
Golden thread ledger
A legally binding ledger of information will need to be created and updated throughout the lifecycle of every residential multi-occupancy building over 18m in height, or seven storeys tall.
The idea of this ledger is to establish clear accountability for the owners of residential buildings and empowering the new regulator to enable them to take quick enforcement action where necessary.
The act also sets out clear steps to improve compliance and includes tougher penalties for those that don’t abide by their obligations.
The waterfall effect is designed to protect leaseholders. Waterfall protection makes block management the responsibility of developers, freeholders and block owners rather than leaseholders.
This means that leaseholders will no longer be responsible for the cost of remediation works for their buildings. The time period where compensation can be sought for sub-standard construction work is also increased from six to fifteen years. The act has been instituted retrospectively. Meaning, residents of a block of flats constructed in 2020 will have until 2035 to commence legal proceedings.
New Homes Ombudsman
Developers must join and retain membership of the newly created ombudsman which has been established to provide compensation in cases where developers have been proven to be at fault. Sanctions for developers that don’t retain membership will be enforced by the New Homes Ombudsman.
Building safety managers no longer a requirement
Initially proposed in the bill, the appointment of a building safety manager will no longer be required, in order to offset costs for leaseholders.
Protecting your business
We provide a range of health, safety and environmental support, training and compliance services to businesses in the commercial, industrial, construction and government sectors.
Contact us today to discuss the new act and your responsibilities, or any other requirements you may have.