The agreement between the government and the construction sector focuses on innovation, arguing that digital techniques and offsite manufacture will improve the safety of buildings (see our feature Here’s one I prepared earlier).
The government said the adoption of digital and manufacturing technology, such as building information modelling, would enable better designed buildings that “meet both best practice in relation to safety” and “will facilitate the incorporation of better and safer materials and building safety systems”.
The deal commits the partners to £420m investment in technology and building methods that will help to deliver more affordable infrastructure at speed in response to Brexit and demographic changes.
Business secretary Greg Clark announced the deal last November following the launch of the industrial strategy and the details were released last week.
The deal aims to “boost the skills of construction workers and training the next generation of workers”. The industry will also develop common training standards and programmes in key areas such as safety and health and management to improve standards in the construction sector.
Though the construction sector has improved its commitment to safety and health over the past ten years, “there is scope to go further”, the government notes. It has identified three key areas for improvement, which are: standardising work-related health and safety training for employees; supporting longer-term physical and mental health; and improving working environments.
It said the Health and Safety Executive’s Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC) will work with the Construction Industry Training Board, the Construction Leadership Council and construction firms to help achieve high standards of safety and health across the industry, supporting the objectives of the sector deal.
The deal pledges to improve the skills of those working on the design, construction and operation of “higher risk” residential buildings, defined as high-rise tower blocks of ten or more storeys in Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Building a Better Future.
The government has called on the industry to “take forward key recommendations” from this report, which includes more than 50 proposals for a more robust regulatory system to improve safety in tower blocks.
For example, the Steering Group on Competencies for Building a Safer Future – a subgroup of the Industry Response Group that was set up last July in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire – will develop a proposal for an overarching body that, as recommended in Hackitt’s final report, would support the provision of competent people working on high-rise residential buildings, and assure their skills, knowledge and experience.