Building Safety Bill: the implications for high-rise owners and operators
05 May 2021 | 3 min read
The management of high-rise residential buildings is expected to change dramatically. In response to the Grenfell tragedy, the Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill are currently under consideration in Parliament, heralding a new era of accountability for building safety.
If the Building Safety Bill passes, as predicted, responsibilities for building management will be clarified and high-rise residential property owners and managers will face new obligations to meet safety compliance.
One of these obligations will require owners and operators to nominate a Building Safety Manager. This sparks questions for high-rise residential property owners: How will the Bill affect us? What’s the role of the Building Safety Manager? How can we start preparing?
How will the Building Safety Bill affect owners and managers of high-rise residential buildings?
The passing of the Building Safety Bill will cause fundamental changes in safety legislation and the management of high-rise residential buildings.
A major component of this will be ensuring that residents always have a clear and robust platform to voice any concerns and empower them to incite change. This places responsibility with the Accountable Person (building owner, freeholder or management company) to demonstrate how they have planned for the residents’ safety and to maintain a Residents’ Engagement Strategy. Aiming to improve lines of communication, this will set out opportunities for residents to be involved in decision-making and have easy access to the building’s safety information.
Another key aspect of the Bill states that managing risks and safety cases falls under the responsibility of the Accountable Person; taking action to mitigate and control risks to prevent a major incident from occurring. It’s their ongoing duty to update a Safety Case Report and review the relevant risk assessments.
To fulfil these duties stipulated in the Building Safety Bill, high-rise residential property owners and managers will need to nominate a Building Safety Manager (BSM) who will serve as the principal contact for residents. Owners and operators can assess if an existing employee fits the criteria and qualifications of the BSM - potentially suitable for an existing role in facilities or property management.
The role of the Building Safety Manager
It is envisaged that the BSM will be responsible for the day-to-day safety management of the building and act as a point of contact for residents. The Bill assigns statutory obligations to building owners and operators to foster a partnership between the BSM and the residents, including resident engagement and handling complaints.
Qualifications and experience
- Knowledge level aligned with the Recognised Qualification Framework between Level 4 and Level 6
- Minimum of three to five years’ experience managing building risk
- Maintaining and managing the safety of the building and residents by undertaking fire risk assessments
- Maintaining active fire systems; such as extinguishers and emergency lights
- Ensuring passive fire protection measures are in place; such as fire doors and self-closing doors
- Engaging with residents to ensure safety awareness and articulating the process for escalating their concerns
How can owners and managers start preparing for the Building Safety Bill?
- Assess if an existing employee could be nominated as the Building Safety Manager
- Review fire risk assessments processes
- Provide your feedback to the draft Bill which will be published on Monday 20th July 2021
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