The Building Safety Act: Two Years On

Seven years ago, the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in London shook the construction industry to its core. An industry review by Dame Judith Hackett produced the Building a Safer Future report, which subsequently led to the introduction of the Building Safety Act prompting greater regulation and enhanced safety within the industry.

A similar tragedy happened at Notre Dame in Paris over five years ago and more recently in the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, strengthening the call for stricter regulation and safety protocols within the built environment throughout Europe. 

Recently, a panel of experts came together to reflect on the impact of this significant legislation and discuss areas for improvement in building safety. 

What has the Building Safety Act changed?

Two years on after its implementation, the impact of the Building Safety Act on UK construction remains varied. David Frise, Chief Executive for the Building Engineering Services Association, shed light on the disparity in the industry's understanding and preparedness. 

He shared, "Our bigger members who act frequently as principal contractors are beginning to get to grips with the Building Safety Act... You go further down the supply chain, there's very little understanding" This stark contrast calls for targeted education and readiness initiatives for smaller companies, many of whom might still be grappling with the ramifications of the Act.

Lee Ramsey from Morgan Sindall Construction emphasised that, ultimately, the Building Safety Act is about doing the right thing. He asserted, "Really, when you look at the practical delivery of these things, it's about more of the good practices that many of us were doing on some projects already." 

The Act is not about introducing new obligations, but rather reinforcing best practices that should have been followed on a regular basis.

The challenge of meeting the requirements

However, the Act does bring an added administrative burden. Lilly Gallafent from Cast Consultancy noted, "The Building Safety Act has upped the ante on change. This will only work if there is the opportunity for a sensible dialogue between duty holders and the BSR to avoid projects grinding to a halt and all parties drowning in administration." 

This is where technology becomes critical. It's essential to harness digital tools to manage this increased workload effectively and maintain open lines of communication.

Chris Palmer, Technical Solutions Expert at Autodesk, agreed. He insisted that having good business processes and leveraging technology are vitalvital if the industry is to deliver an effective response to the Act. 

He stated, "From a vendor perspective, what we need to do is make sure that those systems that we do put to market are as user-friendly and intuitive as possible." A move towards digital-first approaches will ensure efficient data capture and management, leading to more effective compliance with the Act.

The financial implications of implementing these changes are an important consideration. David Frise pointed out, "Working capital is always a problem, when you don't get paid you don't have the money to invest in skills or technology." 

For the industry to navigate the changes brought about by the Act successfully, more financial resources need to be directed towards education, upskilling, and technology.

Adjusting to the new reality 

Two years after the introduction of the Building Safety Act, the construction industry is still navigating its implications. The Act has indeed brought about significant changes, but it also presents opportunities for improvement, innovation, and a renewed commitment to safety. 

As Marek Suchocki emphasises, it's about initiating a new 'business as usual' - a reality that prioritises safety and quality like never before. 

The industry's journey with the Building Safety Act is ongoing, but the commitment to learning, collaboration, and leveraging technology promises a safer future for all.

Want to learn more about meeting the Building Safety Act’s requirements? Download our white paper, The Building Safety Act: The New Reality

Chinmayi Udaybhaskar

Content Marketing Executive for Autodesk Construction Cloud