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Sun April 18 2021

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Engineers' whistleblowing service expands its remit

31 Mar CROSS, the engineer’s whistleblowing service for dangerous structures, is now inviting built environment professionals to report fire safety problems.

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The expanded remit for CROSS is in line with the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations & Fire Safety after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

CROSS was founded in 2005 as Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety, operated jointly by the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers.

To go with its new remit, its name has been changed to Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures (still CROSS though).

Dame Judith Hackitt said of the new, wider remit for CROSS: “This is a really important step in changing the culture around buildings and structures to one of openness and transparency. Other industry sectors like airlines have shown how valuable this type of no-blame reporting of concerns can be in identifying potential causes of failure before they happen and ensuring that they are shared with the whole sector.”

The confidential safety reporting system for buildings and other structures allows professionals and others to share their concerns about, and experiences of, fire and structural safety to help others make structures safer. CROSS publishes safety information, supporting continuous learning at all levels across the built environment, including individuals, organisations and regulators.

Last year it began working with the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) to develop and run the service for fire safety issues as well.

The expansion of CROSS functions has government backing. Building safety minister Lord Greenhalgh said:  “The expansion and strengthening of CROSS is a major step towards implementation of the new building safety regime, providing those in industry with the tools and information needed to effectively share valuable lessons learned and promote best practices.”

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CROSS structural safety consultant Alastair Soane said: “Ensuring structures are safe is a fundamental need and expanding CROSS into fire safety will provide more comprehensive monitoring and learning from across the sector.

“We want to promote a culture of change within industry – one that supports and encourages individuals to come together and share responsibility for creating a safer built environment.”

The updated CROSS website now makes reporting more straight-forward. It also offers an easily searchable library of past reports, and fire and structural safety information to help individuals and organisations learn more about the safety implications of their work.”

 Julie Bregulla, Institution of Civil Engineers' fellow and chair of ICE’s Structures Panel, said: “Recording, analysing and learning from failures and near misses forms an important part of the continuous learning cycle. It underpins an engineer's competency and is key to a learning industry. The expansion of CROSS into fire safety – and in near future to infrastructure safety – will be key in ensuring assets stand the test of time. We have a responsibility to society to build, operate and maintain structures and assets that are fit for purpose, reliable and feel safe.”

“All industry professionals should make engaging with CROSS a regular and dedicated activity – to both continuously improve themselves and to reassure stakeholders, and the public, of their commitment to safety.”

Martin Powell, chief executive of the Institution of Structural Engineers, said: “The expansion of CROSS to include fire as well as structural safety is an important step forward in providing reassurance to the general public. This however, is only a starting point. The commitment of the wider built environment sector to contribute to – and then use – CROSS reports will be the acid test.”

Find out more at www.cross-safety.org

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