Assessing competence of building safety managers

4 Mar 22

Work on an accreditation system for building safety managers is likely to begin in the next few months, said Anthony Taylor, Chair of Working Group 8 and Interim Chair of the Building Safety Alliance, at GIRI’s member meeting on 10 February. He explained that the Building Safety Alliance has been set up to create a method of assessment of competence and maintain a central register of certified building safety managers.

The building safety manager (BSM) is a newly created role that addresses part four of the Building Safety Bill and is concerned with the occupation phase of buildings. The duties of a BSM will apply to the residential parts of buildings over 18m/seven storeys, including existing buildings. New buildings will require the appointment of a BSM before they can be occupied. 

Working Group 8, one of the sub-groups within the Competence Steering Group, was tasked with developing the competence framework for the BSM role. This involved in-depth consideration of what the role would involve, its relationships and responsibilities. These were ultimately deemed to be very wide. “One of our initial thoughts was that anyone taking responsibility for managing the safety of a residential building would have to be responsible for the whole building, because you can’t be responsible for something you have no control over,” said Anthony.

Anthony explained that WG8 took the view that this required a holistic approach, taking in public health, utilities and all the responsibilities under existing legislation as well as fire safety elements. “Part of the exercise was to work out all the activities, documentation, issues, and other things related to taking on a building in order to manage it effectively and safely – and we got to around 280 line items.”

This comprehensive approach goes beyond the requirements of the BSB, which deals with spread of fire and structures. “We are currently working with the regulator to determine which of these lines items comes under the BSB (regulations) and which comes under everything else (regulations plus).”

Anthony explained that while the BSM will be appointed and employed by the Accountable Person (AP) under BSB (usually the building owner), the responsibilities of these two roles are different in scope. “The AP will have to manage the property in accordance with the BSB because that is what the AP role relates to, but as building owner they may want their BSM to do other things as well – hence ‘regulations plus’. The idea of the list is to give us something to guide the competence requirements – what do we actually need and at what level?”

The group published its initial report for consultation as an annex to the Raising the Bar report in August 2019, and its final report Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management was issued in June 2020 and published as an annex to Setting the Bar – a new Competence Regime for Building a Safer Future in October 2020.

“However, the job is not finished,” said Anthony. “While the report contained the draft competence framework, this had to be translated by the BSI into the first draft of PAS 8673, which is the specification for BSMs and nominated individuals. But the PAS is just the beginning of the journey. You still need to certify and assess people against the PAS to make sure they are competent.”

The Building Safety Alliance was set up to develop this method of assessment and create a central register of BSMs, something the regulator has said the industry must manage. “This is the purpose of the Building Safety Alliance – to create a centralised assessment, certification, and management of competence of building safety managers and nominated individuals. It will take the rump of WG8 membership and build on that to include more professional bodies, insurers, clients, fund managers, residents’ voices, and anyone with an interest in the occupation phase of a higher-risk building.”

Work on the accreditation side will start once the BSM PAS document is finalised and published towards the middle of 2022. “We are currently agreeing the memorandum and articles of the BSA and putting in place the proper governance we will need to deliver the national register, and we are beginning to work on best practice guidance. The aim of the alliance is to produce a manual on how to be a building safety manager. The intent is to be the guardian of the competences.”

Once fully established, the BSA will be responsible and accountable for the full governance regime, including independently considered sanctions for failing to meet registration requirements, the Code of Conduct, and a robust complaints procedure. BSA will become the preferred source of assurance for all stakeholders, including residents, accountable persons, and the industry as a whole. It will be led by a stakeholder council and be subject to UKAS (or a similar third-party accreditation) oversight. The BSA is also considering the possibility of issuing ID cards for competent people.

Read Claire Price's update to the members' meeting on the development of BSI Flex 8670.

Read Dawn Hillier's update on developing competence frameworks for installers.

Read Brendan van Rooyen's update on changes to the ICE's CPD framework.

Future members' meeting dates are available on our Events Calendar.

Find our more about GIRI membership.


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