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The Building Safety Act 2022: A Comprehensive Guide for Facilities Managers

The Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022, a landmark legislation aimed at enhancing building safety across the United Kingdom, has ushered in significant changes for the construction, property and facilities management industries. With a focus on preventing tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire, this act imposes new obligations and responsibilities on stakeholders involved in the design, construction, and maintenance of high-rise buildings.

The Act introduces a number of new requirements for building owners, managers, and contractors, including the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator.

For facilities managers (FMs), the Building Safety Act represents a significant change in the way they will need to manage buildings. FMs will need to be aware of the new requirements and take steps to ensure that their buildings are compliant. Facilities managers (FMs), in particular, play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with the Act and upholding the safety of occupants. This article serves as a comprehensive guide for FMs, outlining key provisions, responsibilities, and actions to be taken.

  1. Understanding the Building Safety Act 2022

Background and Objectives

The Building Safety Act 2022 was introduced as a response to the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, highlighting the need for comprehensive reform in building safety regulations. The Act aims to strengthen oversight, improve accountability, and enhance the safety of high-rise residential buildings throughout the UK.

Scope and Applicability

The Act covers buildings taller than 18 meters or six stories, referred to as “higher-risk buildings.” FMs need to identify such buildings within their portfolios and ensure compliance with the Act’s requirements.

Key Requirements of the Building Safety Act

The Building Safety Act introduces a number of new requirements for building owners, managers, and contractors. Some of the key requirements include:

  • The creation of a new Building Safety Regulator, which will be responsible for overseeing building safety in England.
  • The establishment of a new system of building safety management, which will require building owners to create and maintain a safety management plan for their buildings.
  • The introduction of a new “golden thread” of information, which will require building owners to keep a record of all information relating to the safety of their buildings.
  • The requirement for building owners to register their buildings with the Building Safety Regulator.
  • The introduction of new criminal offences for building owners and managers who fail to comply with the new requirements.

 

office budget person holding pencil near laptop computer

Key Provisions and Changes

The Act introduces several significant changes, including:

  • Duty Holders:

    The Act establishes three key duty holders responsible for building safety: the Accountable Person, the Building Safety Manager, and the Principal Designer. FMs may assume the role of the Accountable Person or collaborate closely with the appointed Accountable Person.

  • Safety Case Regime:

    The Act introduces the concept of a “safety case” for higher-risk buildings, requiring the responsible party to develop and maintain a comprehensive safety case that demonstrates compliance with safety requirements.

  • Gateway Points and Building Assurance Certificates:

    The Act introduces gateway points throughout a building’s lifecycle, ensuring that critical safety milestones are met before progressing to the next stage. Building Assurance Certificates are issued to confirm compliance at each gateway.

  1. Responsibilities of Facilities Managers

Identifying Higher-Risk Buildings

FMs must work closely with property owners, developers, and other stakeholders to identify higher-risk buildings within their portfolio. This includes conducting comprehensive risk assessments, considering factors such as building height, design, construction materials, and fire safety systems.

Collaboration with Duty Holders

FMs, as potential Accountable Persons or collaborators with the Accountable Person, should foster close collaboration with other duty holders, including the Building Safety Manager and Principal Designer. Effective communication and coordination are crucial to ensuring compliance and maintaining building safety.

Developing and Maintaining Safety Cases

Under the safety case regime, FMs must actively contribute to the development and maintenance of the safety case for higher-risk buildings. This involves working with relevant professionals to identify and mitigate potential risks, conducting regular inspections, and keeping comprehensive records of maintenance and repairs.

Engaging Competent Professionals

FMs should engage qualified professionals, such as fire safety engineers, structural engineers, and building inspectors, to assess and address building safety concerns. Regular audits and inspections by these professionals are essential to ensure compliance with the Act’s requirements.

Ensuring Effective Fire Safety Measures

Fire safety is a paramount concern for FMs. They should collaborate with fire safety specialists to implement and maintain effective fire safety measures, including fire detection and alarm systems, evacuation plans, compartmentation, and adequate training for occupants.

Maintaining Robust Documentation

FMs must maintain accurate and up-to-date documentation related to building safety, including fire risk assessments, maintenance records, safety inspection reports, and evidence of compliance with regulatory requirements. This documentation is essential for demonstrating compliance and may be subject to scrutiny by regulatory authorities.

white laptop computer turned on beside brown paper cup

"Safety is a the primary consideration for and facilities manager. The Building Safety Act cannot be ignored. It is worth picking an FM partner with expertise and experience."

 

  1. Implications and Challenges for Facilities Managers

What FMs Need to Do

FMs have a key role to play in ensuring that buildings are compliant with the Building Safety Act. FMs will need to be aware of the new requirements and take steps to ensure that their buildings are compliant.

Some of the things that FMs can do to ensure compliance with the Building Safety Act include:

  • Familiarizing themselves with the new requirements of the Act.
  • Working with building owners to develop and implement a safety management plan.
  • Ensuring that the golden thread of information is created and maintained.
  • Registering their buildings with the Building Safety Regulator.
  • Taking steps to prevent and manage fire and structural safety risks.

Increased Regulatory Scrutiny and Compliance Demands

The Building Safety Act 2022 raises the bar for regulatory scrutiny and demands a higher level of compliance from FMs. Non-compliance with the Act’s requirements can result in severe penalties, including fines and potential criminal charges. FMs must ensure their operations align with the Act to mitigate legal and reputational risks.

Financial Implications

Implementing the necessary safety measures and engaging qualified professionals may result in increased costs for FMs. Adequate budgeting and financial planning are crucial to meet these new obligations effectively.

Evolving Role of FMs

The Act necessitates a shift in the role of FMs, emphasizing a stronger focus on building safety and compliance. FMs must proactively stay updated with the evolving regulations, industry best practices, and emerging technologies to effectively discharge their duties.

Fire escape sign

Examples of How FMs Can Comply with the Building Safety Act

Here are some examples of how FMs can comply with the Building Safety Act:

  • Creating and maintaining a safety management plan. The safety management plan should identify all of the risks to the building’s safety and outline the steps that will be taken to mitigate those risks. The plan should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
  • Ensuring that the golden thread of information is created and maintained. The golden thread of information is a record of all information relating to the safety of the building. This information should include things like the building’s design, construction, and maintenance history. The golden thread should be kept in a secure location and made available to the Building Safety Regulator upon request.
  • Registering their buildings with the Building Safety Regulator. Building owners must register their buildings with the Building Safety Regulator by October 2023. The registration process will require building owners to provide information about the building, such as its location, height, and number of occupants.
  • Taking steps to prevent and manage fire and structural safety risks. FMs should take steps to prevent and manage fire and structural safety risks in their buildings. This may include things like conducting regular fire drills, inspecting the building’s fire safety systems, and maintaining the building’s structure.

By following these examples, FMs can help to ensure that their buildings are compliant with the Building Safety Act and that they are safe for everyone.

 

  1. Building Safety

The Building Safety Act 2022 signifies a significant turning point in the UK’s approach to building safety, particularly for higher-risk buildings. Facilities managers have a pivotal role to play in ensuring compliance with the Act’s requirements and upholding the safety of occupants. By understanding the Act’s provisions, collaborating with duty holders, engaging competent professionals, and maintaining robust documentation, FMs can navigate the challenges and fulfil their responsibilities effectively. Proactive engagement and a commitment to building safety will be critical in establishing a culture of accountability and ensuring the prevention of future tragedies.

Guide to Compliance: Keeping Properties Safe and Meeting Legal Obligations

We understand organisations have a duty of care for everyone that uses their buildings, be it a school, office, house or commercial space. Download our Free Guide to Compliance and you can learn how we can keep your properties safe and ensure you meet your legal obligations.

FAQ: The Building Safety Act 2022 for Facilities Managers

  1. What is the Building Safety Act 2022?

    • The Building Safety Act 2022 is legislation introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, aiming to enhance building safety in the UK, particularly for higher-risk buildings.
  2. Who are Facilities Managers (FMs)?

    • Facilities Managers are professionals responsible for the management and maintenance of buildings, ensuring they operate safely and efficiently.
  3. What are higher-risk buildings?

    • Higher-risk buildings are those taller than 18 meters or six stories. They fall under the scope of the Building Safety Act 2022 and require additional safety measures.
  4. What are the key responsibilities of Facilities Managers under the Act?

    • Facilities Managers must identify higher-risk buildings, collaborate with duty holders, develop and maintain safety cases, engage competent professionals, ensure effective fire safety measures, and maintain comprehensive documentation.
  5. What are duty holders under the Act?

    • Duty holders include the Accountable Person, Building Safety Manager, and Principal Designer. Facilities Managers may assume the role of the Accountable Person or work closely with them.
  6. What is a safety case?

    • A safety case is a comprehensive document that demonstrates compliance with safety requirements for higher-risk buildings. Facilities Managers contribute to its development and maintenance.
  7. What are gateway points and Building Assurance Certificates?

    • Gateway points are milestones throughout a building’s lifecycle, ensuring that crucial safety requirements are met before progressing to the next stage. Building Assurance Certificates are issued to confirm compliance at each gateway.
  8. What are the financial implications for Facilities Managers?

    • Implementing necessary safety measures and engaging professionals may lead to increased costs for Facilities Managers. Adequate budgeting and financial planning are important to meet these obligations effectively.
  9. What are the potential legal and reputational risks for Facilities Managers?

    • Non-compliance with the Building Safety Act 2022 can result in penalties, fines, and potential criminal charges. Failing to prioritize building safety can also harm the reputation of Facilities Managers and their organizations.
  10. How can Facilities Managers stay updated with the Act’s requirements?

    • Facilities Managers should proactively stay informed about the evolving regulations, industry best practices, and emerging technologies related to building safety through continuous learning and engagement with professional networks.

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