The following commentary is based on the draft Building Safety Bill. It is therefore subject to change and provided for information only.
The Accountable Person for an occupied higher-risk building will have a duty under the Building Safety Bill to appoint a Building Safety Manager for their building.
The main role of the Building Safety Manager is to manage the higher-risk building on a day-to-day basis in accordance with the building safety case and provide information as required to the new Building Safety Regulator.
The Accountable Person can appoint an external individual or company to act as the Building Safety Manager for their higher-risk buildings. They do not need to directly employ a Building Safety Manager in-house.
During the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill by parliament, it was recognised that many Accountable Persons would need the support of an external partner to perform the role of Building Safety Manager. Being able to appoint an external organisation will be particularly important for many Accountable Persons, given the wide-range of skills, competences and capabilities the Building Safety Manager function will need to effectively perform their role.
Where an organisation is acting as the Building Safety Manager, they must nominate an individual as the lead point of contact and responsibility for the building. The Accountable Person will need to notify the regulator of their chosen Building Safety Manager, which will ensure they meet the required competency standards. A higher-risk building cannot be occupied until a competent Building Safety Manager has been appointed to the satisfaction of the regulator.
What will the Building Safety Manager do?
A non-exhaustive list of functions an effective Building Safety Manager will carry out include:
- Design and implement a suitable and appropriate inspection regime for the higher-risk building, to ensure the operation and occupancy of the building in compliance with the building safety case.
- Notify the Accountable Person if the building safety risk assessment and safety case are no longer valid or sufficient, or that further reasonable steps need to be taken to prevent the occurrence of a major incident.
- Working with the Responsible Person where appropriate, ensure Fire Risk Assessments are carried out in accordance with the management system, proactively providing challenge to assumptions and observations within the assessments, and make sure findings are properly reviewed and acted upon where they relate to building safety.
- Oversee reactive repairs and planned maintenance on the property, ensuring that all contractors are competent, works are carried out in accordance with the building safety case, all remedial issues affecting safety and compliance are completed and ensure that proper controls are in place to prevent the building safety case being compromised.
- Work with Responsible Persons where appropriate to implement and coordinate the emergency and evacuation procedures at the building, ensuring this is consistent with the building safety case.
- Engaging residents in the safe management of their building through a Resident Engagement Strategy that includes routes of escalation for resident concerns and complaints relating to safety and ensuring that residents are complying with their safety responsibilities.
- Ensure all building, maintenance and compliance safety information is up to date and stored correctly on systems that are fit for purpose, using management reports to drive continuous improvement and compliance (i.e. maintaining the ‘golden thread’).
- Supply information and documentation to the Building Safety regulator, as required.
- Support the Accountable Person in their role, ensuring they are aware of their duties and the actions they need to take to comply with them.
What competences and capabilities will Building Safety Managers need?
The Government established an expert panel known as Working Group 8 to develop a competency framework for individuals involved in delivering the functions of the Building Safety Manager. They identified a broad range of competencies would be needed and industry bodies are already responding with the development of courses and qualifications.
To ensure the effectiveness of Building Safety Managers, individuals within this new profession will need supporting with continuous professional development, mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities to develop best practice.
How will the costs of the Building Safety Manager be met?
The Building Safety Manager will be appointed by the Accountable Person. However, the Building Safety Bill will amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to allow the recovery of building safety costs by the landlord through a new building safety charge, which amongst other things, is expected to cover the additional costs of the Building Safety Manager.
The legislation will require high-levels of transparency in the collection, administration and use of the building safety charge, thus requiring Building Safety Managers and Accountable Persons to maintain excellent records and systems throughout.
What should Accountable Persons look for in choosing a Building Safety Manager?
The Accountable Person will need to have high-levels of trust and confidence in their Building Safety Manager. They will play an essential role in maintaining the safety and compliance of their buildings, as well as help the Accountable Person comply with their own duties. When selecting a Building Safety Manager, Accountable Persons may wish to consider whether candidates/organisation have:
- Access to a broad range of building safety related disciplines and capabilities, including fire risk assessing, the building regulations, auditing, fire engineering, materials engineering, information management, resident engagement, surveying and human factors.
- An ability to support the Accountable Person comply with their own duties – for example supporting the development or refresh of the building safety case, development of plans to address key risks and develop an appropriate resident engagement strategy.
- A secure, resilient, centralised and efficient technology platform to support all the associated activity, including storage of data, documentation, planning, scheduling, inspections, risk management and reporting, in other words, supporting the maintenance of the ‘golden thread’.
- An ability to deliver a tailored and risk-based management model for each higher-risk building, ensuring value for money for residents.
Learn more about the ‘golden thread’ of building information
Learn more about the Building Safety Case
Learn more about the Accountable Person role
The Building Safety Bill is expected in Parliament in 2021.
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