New Draft Building Safety Bill published

This week saw the publication of a new Draft Building Safety Bill which the Government describes as the biggest changes to building safety for almost forty years.

The Bill brings in new regulations in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire and subsequent report into systemic failings by Dame Judith Hackitt.

If and when the Bill is enacted, people living in high rise buildings will be empowered to challenge inaction from their building owner and have better access to safety information about their building. They will also have access to a complaints process.

The draft Bill will also give the government new powers to regulate construction materials and products.

The Building Safety Regulator, already being set up within the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), will be able hold building owners to account. The regulator will have three main functions: to oversee the safety and standard of all buildings; directly assure the safety of higher-risk buildings; and improve the competence of people responsible for managing and overseeing building work.

The new rules, as set out in the Bill, will apply when buildings are designed, constructed and then later occupied. At each of these three stages, it will be clear who is responsible for managing the potential risks and what is required to move to the next stage – creating what has become known as the ‘golden thread’ of information about the building to be gathered over its lifetime.

Five categories of 'duty holder' will be created during the construction phase: client; principal designer; designer; principal contractor; and contractor. These mirror existing health and safety roles under the 2015 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, but with new responsibilities for fire and structural safety of the building. The principal contractor and principal designer will be required to sign a declaration that the building complies with the building regulations.

For more information, see this Government explanation of the draft bill, including next steps before the bill is introduced to parliament.

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