The long anticipated Setting the Bar: A new competence regime for building a safer future report has now been released (05/10/2020). The final report of the Competence Steering Group [CSG] for Building a Safer Future develops on the interim report, Raising the Bar, which was released in August 2019.
Graham Watts OBE, Chairman of the Competence Steering Group, states in his foreword “it is quite remarkable that this report has been produced: a testament to the unified determination of these [more than 300] organisations to do everything they can to improve building safety and to ensure that residents feel safe in the homes that they occupy.” BAFE is proud to have been included in this process with the dedicated work of Chris Auger, Director of Schemes, being Secretary of Working Group 2 – Installers [WG2] and Stephen Adams, Chief Executive, and Chris Auger being Secretaries of Working Group 4 – Fire Risk Assessors [WG4]. Working with the dedicated and knowledgeable industry experts has been important to the development of a more robust competency framework.
Graham Watts also comments “The building safety legislation will take time to be enacted and implemented, as will the suite of National Standards which will also need to be developed through due processes. The ‘industry’ (in its widest context) cannot stand still and wait for these things to happen. It must continue the momentum towards implementing change without delay.” This reiterates Dame Judith Hackitt’s ongoing demand that the industry should not wait to be told what to do and improve their working practice in anticipation of changes.
The document discusses third party assessment of organisations which notes “In some sectors, it is common for organisations (for example, installation companies) to be required to demonstrate that they employ competent staff who are properly assessed, managed and supervised. This can be achieved by third party certification of the service provided by the organisation or of the competence management system operated by the organisation. The final recommendations, therefore, reflect this point and it will be for the Working Groups and the building safety competence committee to decide how this will operate in practice for each sector.”
BAFE strongly believe that UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification continues to be the best evidence of competency for organisations delivering a specific service in the fire safety sector. WG2 recommend that “the industry should adopt a framework for all the installer sectors working on in-scope buildings that can be applied to other project types.” This will consist of Accredited Third Party Certification of companies and qualifications/other requirements for individuals.
BAFE is committed to providing the fire safety industry with access to achieve quality evidence of organisational competency.
The report has a strong focus on the third party assessment of individuals in which it states “in further developing proposals for competence assessment the CSG has agreed a principles-based approach in determining the extent that third party assessment of individuals should be required of persons working on higher-risk buildings in the future.”
“There is absolute agreement that everyone working on in-scope buildings must work within a system of competence assessment and management to ensure they are competent to deliver safe outcomes.”
BAFE FireQual is now being established as an independent Awarding Body to provide examinations and qualifications for individuals working within the fire safety and related sectors.
Nic Preston, Qualifications Manager – FireQual, comments “any individual certification should be required to take on an appropriate form of refresher training where necessary [including CPD] to demonstrate their capability remains relevant. Further examinations should also be undertaken to represent understanding of major changes in any associated Standards.”
The report addresses this with a clear commitment to a continuing professional development (CPD) framework across all sectors, which the building safety competence committee would hold sectors accountable.
Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, adds “it is crucial that the individual competency qualifications are linked into third party certificated organisational management to deliver quality evidence of competency that is regularly re-assessed. This ongoing monitoring of organisations should include the important checks that their staff remain capable to deliver specific services. Individual qualifications and evidence of continuing professional development will unquestionably support this.”
The report overview concludes “In time, and as quickly as possible, we expect these new protocols can help bring about an improved culture, so that the design and construction of new and refurbished buildings and the management of occupied ones is carried out with pride, rigour and quality by a skilled, knowledgeable and competent workforce.”
Chris Auger, Director of Schemes – BAFE, commented “the work of the CSG and its associated Working Groups has been extremely strenuous, and I would like to personally thank everyone involved for their time and valuable input. These recommendations need to be implemented as soon as possible, with plausible scope to extend these competency requirements to the whole built environment in the interest of life safety. It is so important we get this right and that we raise skill levels, improve knowledge and experience and drive the behaviour change that is needed across the built environment."
Setting the Bar: A new competence regime for building a safer future (The Final Report of the Competence Steering Group for Building a Safer Future) is available via the CIC (Construction Industry Council) website here: http://cic.org.uk/setting-the-bar-annexes.php
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