Eight companies formed an Early Adopters Group last year on the back of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. Yesterday, 6th June 2019, they signed the Building Safety Charter, committing – inter alia – to put safety before profit.
The charter commits those who have signed up to put people’s safety first during the design, construction, refurbishment and occupation of residential buildings.
All organisations involved in the design, construction, management, refurbishment and occupation of homes and buildings can now view and register their interest in the Charter on the newly-launched Building a Safer Future website. They will have the opportunity to sign up when the charter is launched formally later this year.
Dame Judith Hackitt’s review called for a ‘culture change’ within the industry. It is intended that the new charter will spearhead that change by motivating the sector to prioritise residents’ safety at every stage of a building’s lifespan.
Barratt Developments, Kier, United Living, Wates and Willmott Dixon, along with housing associations L&Q, Peabody and Salix Homes, who make up the Early Adopters Group, have been trialling new systems and ways of working in advance of any proposed changes to legislation.
Some examples of work the group have taken forward include testing how residents and contractors can report building faults in a confidential, no-blame process.
They’ve also been looking at how the creation and management of digitalised building information can be improved; and the development of a new approval process for specific phases of the design, construction and maintenance of high-rise and complex buildings to ensure their safety.
A spokesman for the Early Adopters Group said: “For the past year, the Early Adopters Group has been working closely with the government to identify and test new ways of working, which will spearhead a culture change in the building industry and wider sector to put the safety of residents first.
“The crucial lesson for our industry is that we have a collective responsibility to safeguard the people living in our buildings and ensure they are safe places to live, both now and in the future.
“The new Building Safety Charter will help pave the way for real change within our sector, and the Early Adopters Group is very pleased to be the first to sign it, demonstrating our continued commitment to putting safety first.”
Housing minister Kit Malthouse, who witnessed the signings, said: “We established the Early Adopters Group last year as part of sweeping reforms to make sure the building industry prioritises residents’ safety and creates a real culture change as we look to rebuild this sector.
“This group has become integral in helping prepare the industry for our future reforms and this new charter is an important step in making sure that the safety of residents is considered the highest priority at all stages of the building process. I encourage everyone involved in the industry to sign up and back this important pledge.”
– Collaborate to spearhead culture change and be the voice of building safety across our sector.
– Be transparent in the interests of safety, sharing key information with residents, clients, contractors and statutory bodies in a useful and accessible manner in the design, construction and occupation phases of the process.
– Make safety a key factor of choice in who we work with, ensuring that building safety is placed at the centre of selection decisions without compromising quality or value for money.
– Ensure that the voices and safety of residents, visitors and employees are central in our decision making process.
– Set out and communicate clear responsibilities within our organisation and with our partners, ensuring everyone with a stake in the building during design, construction and occupation understands their role and has the time and resources they need to achieve and maintain building safety.