Stop Cutting the Red Tape
Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower we’ve seen so many news reports looking for somewhere to lay the blame and so many people have chipped in their opinions that it’s difficult to apportion the responsibility for the way in which the fire took hold so quickly. It’s become patently obvious that the main reason that the fire spread throughout the tower block so rapidly was the type of cladding used on the outside of the building. However, it seems that there were other reasons that so many people lost their lives after becoming trapped in the blazing inferno – there were no sprinklers (despite the fact that the block had just undergone a major refurbishment) and it seems that the gas pipes serving the building had not be completely protected with fire retardant boxing. We’re sure to see more news over the coming months on these issues and it’s not for us at Safety Fabrications to comment on who or what was to blame for the incident.
However, what has transpired since the tragedy is that a former local government minister is calling for the requirement that a single named individual should be responsible for building regulations and safety compliance, claiming that this would prevent future tragedies of this type. Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Stunell, who was responsible for Building Regulations at the Department for Communities and Local Government says there should be a “key obligation “ to either the installer, the applicant or the client on conforming with safety regulations. His contribution has been an amendment to the Building Act 1984, namely the Sustainable and Secure Building Act 2004 which makes provision for a named individual to be responsible for compliance with Building Regulations.
Lord Stunell states that a while building compliance inspector could potentially prevent similar incidents in future because a single person would be responsible for everything, which would be above and beyond the current requirements of a building control officer and it would lead to fewer breaches of regulations.
According to Baroness Andrews, who at one point served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, the rules have been acting as guidance rather than enforcement, especially since the move to cut red tape in recent years. Last week’s Safety and Health Expo saw a whopping 700 signatories added to a letter calling on the government to crap deregulation of health and safety regulation. Andrews went on to say that “Regulation has routinely been derided as red tap” but adds that red tape is what keeps greed and exploitation in check and keeps our transport systems, our work and our homes as safe as possible.
While we often joke here in the UK about ‘Elf and Safety gone Mad, we’re lucky enough to benefit from some of the most stringent health and safety legislation on the planet and a robust enforcement process to back that up. In March of this year we published a blog post on what the building trade looks like in countries where there is no enforcement process and if you just take a look at the images you can see the risks involved to both workers and passers-by when legislation is not backed by robust enforcement procedures.