Alastair Soane, Director at Structural-Safety and ICE Fellow, explains why ICE members needs to respond to a consultation that will create safer buildings.
In June 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published a consultation, seeking views on government proposals for a radically new building safety system which puts the safety of residents at its heart. This includes new safety reporting proposals for both fire and structural safety issues.
We're calling on ICE members and other industry professionals to lend their support and respond to the consultation, helping us to assure society that infrastructure professionals can be trusted.
The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people, rocked confidence in the building safety system in the UK.
The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, produced a set of recommendations to provide a robust regulatory system for the future.
One of the key recommendations is to build on the existing Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety (CROSS), a unique reporting scheme run by Structural Safety UK and sponsored by ICE, the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Its purpose is to share lessons learned from structural safety issues and help prevent future failures - by providing insight into how safety issues occur and spurring the development of safety improvement measures.
The government's proposals
Currently, the scheme collects voluntary reports on structural safety issues and freely shares the learning from these reports with industry on a no-blame basis. CROSS depends on professionals like you to submit those reports. Any lesson you have ever learned from a CROSS publication was only possible because someone like you decided to submit a report, allowing you to learn from their experience.
The government’s proposals would expand and strengthen the existing CROSS scheme to collect more voluntary reports on structural safety and establish a scheme for collecting reports on fire safety issues. There would also be a new mandatory system for key dutyholders to report occurrences of fire and structural safety issues to the building safety regulator.
Structural Safety fully supports the government’s safety reporting proposals and its view that the best systems of oversight and regulation ensure that the people operating within them learn from their experiences, without fear of blame or retribution.
We believe that the expanded and strengthened CROSS scheme, along with the new mandatory reporting scheme, will complement each other to develop a safety-focused culture in the sector and share intelligence to better understand safety risks and monitor safety trends. Effective safety reporting will be crucial to developing trust in the new building safety regulatory system and will lead to safer buildings.
We need your help
This is why we're asking for your help. If the proposals receive adequate support, MHCLG may be able to provide early approval for the funding needed to expand CROSS.
Structural Safety has produced detailed guidance to help supporters to respond to three consultation questions in particular, with instructions on how to make a submission. This should take no longer than 15 minutes.
The deadline for responding is 31 July, but we'd encourage as many of you to respond as early as possible so that we can take these proposals forward without further delay.
With your support, we can improve the industry’s safety record and ensure public confidence in our sector.