Are You Ready?

27 February 2024


The most significant piece of legislation for the built environment in over 50 years came into effect in April 2022, the Building Safety Act. Further legislation (the amended Building Regulations) was introduced in October 2023 that stipulated:

The Competence Steering Group (CSG) has recognised that industry is not yet ready for these significant changes.

The CSG’s statement was made in the recently published report, A Higher Bar, the third report published (following Raising the Bar and Setting the Bar) as a result of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

So, what does ‘being ready’ look like?

Since Setting the Bar was published in September 2020, Version 3 of BSI Flex 8670 (Built Environment Code of Practice) was released in April 2021, followed by three further PAS documents (8671, 8672, 8673) in July 2022. The guidelines contained in these documents are clear:

These skills and knowledge are found in one place – Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications developed with the latest National Occupational Standards.

A recent Fire Sector Federation directive added that third party certification should support qualifications in the revalidation of individuals:

Note, the scheme should be concerned with the certification of the individual. Everything is pointing towards proving the competence (the skills and knowledge) of the individual responsible for the work.

Clients repeatedly ask us “I’ve just completed XX course; does that mean I’m competent and compliant?”. The simple answer is “in isolation, no”. If you have been sold a course which doesn’t contain the standards (NOS) for your working role, is not authorised by an awarding body, and told that it alone will make you compliant, you have been mis-sold to.  That’s not to say the course won’t contain valuable information that might help contribute towards a relevant qualification. But on its own it makes  you neither legally competent nor compliant.

We were horrified to see yet another high-rise fire claim innocent lives last week, this time in Valencia, Spain. There was, understandably, an outpouring of grief, anger, and sympathy following what should have been another unavoidable disaster. However, unless people start following the law and putting industry, individual competence, and therefore lives first, rather than profits, this may not be the last of its kind.

The requirements are clear: qualifications supported by legitimate competent person schemes. Third Party Certification must becompliant with the UK government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) competence standards for scheme operators and meet UKAS and the Competence Steering Group’s directives for third party certification.

Not courses. Not X number of years’ experience. And not certification schemes that overcharge, conduct a desktop audit, certify the company (not the individual) and fail to visit the individual on-site.

Do the right thing before it’s too late.

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