The Setting the Bar report was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 review Building a Safer Future, itself commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Fire.

The FIA is proud to have contributed to this cross-industry report titled ‘Setting the Bar: a new competence regime for building a safer future’. The new report is being described as a ‘blueprint to improve competence for those working on tall buildings and drive culture change.’

We are pleased to have worked alongside more than 150 likeminded organisations ranging from the fire and built environment industries, the social housing sector, commercial and residential management, facilities managers, health & safety practitioners, fire safety specialists and construction professionals.

The new report is the 2nd report from the Competence Steering Group and is an update of its interim report, Raising the Bar, published in August 2019. The work was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 review Building a Safer Future, itself commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Alongside the publishing of the Setting the Bar report, the Competency Steering Group has also published a separate report covering the new role of building safety manager, Safer people, safer homes: Building Safety Management. The responsibilities of building designers, engineers, installers, building standards and others are all set down in different annexes to the main report.

The proposed system of competence set out in the Setting the Bar report is made up of four key elements:

  • a new competence committee sitting within the Building Safety Regulator
  • a national suite of competence standards – including new sector-specific frameworks developed by 12 working groups
  • arrangements for independent assessment and reassessment against the competence standards
  • a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate levels of oversight.

‘CSG chairman, Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, said: “We would see higher-risk buildings as an essential starting point for the new competence frameworks for the whole of the built environment, which would result in a step-change across the sector and change of industry culture.”

Watts commented: “There is no time to lose in casting aside the substandard practices that have shamed the industry. In this document, we have set a new bar and we would urge all those working in life-critical disciplines to attain these higher levels of competence. Only then can we rebuild the trust of those who occupy and live in the buildings we design, construct and manage.”

The CSG is urging Government to make mandatory the assessments against the frameworks for those working on higher-risk buildings, and is calling on Government to take the lead by requiring that the competence framework set out within this report must be met by any company or individual working on any higher-risk building.’

These competence frameworks set out the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours required for specific roles, whilst this report touches on the requirement for a Building Safety Manager. It is equally important that the engineers who design, install, commission and maintain the fire safety systems are undertaking training to continue becoming more competent in their area of expertise.