Safety experts call for ‘considerable step change’ in management of tower block fire risks, in joint statement on Grenfell review
Leading organisations in the field of health and safety issued a joint statement today in response to the publication of terms of reference for the independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Yesterday, the Government published terms of reference for a review that will urgently assess the effectiveness of current building and fire regulations and related compliance and enforcement issues, with a focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings. This will include addressing whether the Government’s large-scale cladding system testing programme identified any potential systemic failures.
In a statement, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), British Safety Council (BSC), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and Park Health and Safety said:
“The Grenfell Tower tragedy must prompt a considerable step change in how fire risk in tower blocks is managed.
“The safety and health community came together as one to call for swift and urgent action and we are pleased that many of the points we raised are found in yesterday's publication of the terms of reference for the independent review of building regulations and fire safety, as well as those for the public inquiry.
“Calls led by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the British Safety Council, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Park Health and Safety have helped shape a way forward for the independent review that we welcome. The public inquiry and review must lead to measures that make sure solid regulations are robustly enforced and that fire safety competence is viewed as essential and integral to decision-making.
“Following a positive meeting with officials from key Government departments, we look forward to working with them and others to help maintain an effective and proportionate approach to regulation and competence in key areas of health, safety, fire prevention and building standards.
“We stand ready to support the Government’s efforts for improved regulation and look forward to helping achieve effective and practical controls over risks both in the workplace and in the wider public domain.”
In a news release, the Government said the review's two key priorities were to develop a more robust regulatory system for the future and provide further assurance to residents that the buildings they live in are safe and remain safe. While the review will cover the regulatory system for all buildings, it will have a specific focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings.
Dame Judith Hackitt, a qualified engineer and former Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, is leading the review and will draw on the experience of local government, industry, the fire sector, international experts and MPs. She will also engage with residents of multi-occupancy residential buildings.
The review will report jointly to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd. An interim report will be submitted in autumn 2017 and a final report submitted in spring 2018, said the press release. The Review will co-operate fully with the Public Inquiry, and Dame Judith Hackitt will review her recommendations in the light of the findings of the Inquiry.