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Every building should be treated as high risk, says BESA


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The Building Engineering Services Association highlights compliance urgency under the Building Safety Act

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has raised alarms over the construction industry’s laxity towards safety regulations despite clear warnings.

With the Building Safety Act already in effect, BESA underscores that the changes it brings to the regulatory landscape apply across the board, not solely to high-rise buildings.

Nick Mead, chair of BESA’s Building Safety Act Advisory Group, expressed concern over the industry’s preparedness: “Anyone sitting back and waiting to see what happens is going to be in a lot of trouble.

“The Regulator is looking for proof that you are complying with regulations now and that the people working on a project were competent to carry out the specific tasks assigned to them.”

BESA: Anticipating a shift in enforcement

The association warns of a potential high-profile prosecution to underscore the seriousness of the Act’s implications.

“The simplest thing is to treat every building as high risk. The Act has already significantly changed the rules, and every occupant deserves to be safe,” Mead added, stressing the importance of diligent record-keeping and decision documentation to meet regulatory scrutiny.

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) firms are advised to be especially vigilant due to the complexity of their tasks and the increasing tendency to distribute risks across the supply chain.

Bracing for transition

With the registration of Building Control Officers as a certified profession slated for April, BESA anticipates a period of transition fraught with challenges.

Over 4,000 officers must achieve certification by October, a requirement that has already caused delays in project approvals.

“Many inspectors are taking a no-risk approach because of confusion over the new rules – and the least risky approach is not to proceed,” Mead, who also serves as technical director of MEICA Systems at Laing O’Rourke, observed.

This caution has led to significant project delays, with many not advancing past the initial planning gateways.

Rachel Davidson, BESA’s director of specialist knowledge, echoed these concerns, emphasizing the need for the industry to move away from the ‘build and design’ mentality.

“We do know what needs to be done but many contractors are sitting back and waiting to see what happens. That is the riskiest approach,” she said.

Davidson’s remarks highlight the necessity for companies to proactively align with existing regulations in anticipation of the full implementation of the Building Safety Act.

IFSJ Comment

The Building Engineering Services Association‘s call for a broader interpretation of risk under the Building Safety Act is a timely reminder of the construction industry’s evolving responsibilities.

As regulations tighten and the scope of oversight expands, the message is clear: compliance is non-negotiable, and preparedness is key.

This stance not only aims to enhance safety across all building projects but also to foster a culture of accountability and competence within the industry.

By advocating for immediate action and adaptation, BESA highlights the urgency of embracing the Act’s mandates, underlining the collective duty to ensure the safety and security of building occupants.

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