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In Plain Sight: assuring the whole-life safety of infrastructure. Final report

15 October 2018

In plain sight: assuring the whole-life safety of infrastructure is the final output of this review (an interim report was published in November 2017). The report makes recommendations which, when enacted, will help to mitigate the risk of infrastructure failure across the built environment.

The review does not investigate the details of the Grenfell Tower disaster, which are the subject of a public inquiry, nor does it specifically examine tower blocks or fire.

Report recommendations

The report makes 11 recommendations aimed at ICE and the wider industry, across the areas of lesson-sharing, competence and governance.

  1. Strongly promote the Swiss Cheese Model concept of risk management, emphasising that all engineers have roles to play in mitigating and managing infrastructure risk.
  2. Work with professional bodies to scope, sponsor and find funding for a sector-wide organisation to review, comment on and disseminate lessons from concerns, near misses and catastrophic incidents, building on the work of Structural-Safety.
  3. Run an annual event with the Health and Safety Executive on infrastructure near misses, incidents or forensic reports, to promote understanding and identify sector-wide responses.
  4. Encourage engineers to highlight unaddressed infrastructure concerns, risks and near misses to their management and provide guidance via the ICE website on suitable confidential reporting channels should these become necessary.
  5. Establish an electronic system that captures ICE members’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, increasing tenfold the CPD returns audited annually; and work with the Engineering Council to explore introducing periodic mid-career peer reviews.
  6. Identify and communicate mandatory risk-related topics, themes and reading lists for members to include in their annual CPD learning.
  7. Strengthen awareness of ICE’s Code of Professional Conduct through guidance, education, disciplinary processes, sanctions and publicity.
  8. Work with Government to identify any new safety-critical asset classes requiring lifecycle statutory certification.
  9. Set out the responsibilities of a competent infrastructure owner and work with Government to promote a voluntary charter.
  10. Work with other professional institutions to promote a whole-systems multi-disciplinary approach for the lifetime safety of infrastructure assets.
  11. The chief officers of ICE and relevant professional institutions to maintain a co-ordinated disaster response capability and triage decision-taking process, to help Government and the authorities respond to an infrastructure incident.

Avoiding disaster in existing buildings and infrastructure: recommendations

This guidance was prepared by the Risk Group, established jointly by the UK’s actuarial and civil engineering professions.

The guidance summarises an approach which those responsible for infrastructure of all kinds may wish to take to review safety. The paper also emphasises the responsibilities of professionals connected with infrastructure, particularly civil engineers, to bring any safety concerns they have to the attention of responsible authorities. These key points help to lower the risk profile of an asset.

In Plain Sight: assuring the whole-life safety of infrastructure. Final report

Content type: Policy

Last updated: October 2018

Authors: ICE

  • David Hawkes, head of policy at ICE