Challenges of Preparing Building Safety Case Reports

April 25, 2024

Challenges of Preparing Building Safety Case Reports

Download our Briefing Note here – written to summarise the latest guidance produced by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR)

The Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) is a significant piece of legislation, which has introduced changes to the way that building safety has to be approached for in-scope buildings. For example, buildings containing two or more residential units, over 18m or seven stories in height.

In this article, we aim to set out some of the key challenges which have already been identified in preparing
Building Safety Case Reports (BSCR); the BSCR summarises the safety case for high rise buildings and identifies
the building’s safety risks and explains how the risks are being managed.

Challenge 1: Who is the Principle Accountable Person (PAP) and the Accountable Person (AP)?

The Act places the obligations for producing the BSCR with the PAP and the AP(s). For buildings with complex tenure arrangements, such as headleases, resident management companies or common part obligations demised to management companies, it can often be difficult to identify which party holds which designation and consequently what their duties are under the Act. So, the first challenge is to identify these designations, keeping in mind that the PAP and AP duties cannot be delegated.

Challenge 2: Legal timescales

The current deadline for producing BSCRs has been set for April 2024. However, it is now clear that this deadline will not be met for the majority of in-scope buildings, of which there are estimated to be 12,500. There is a huge backlog in buildings awaiting the completion of their BSCRs due to a variety of reasons. One of the most significant reasons is the limited number of fire safety professionals deemed sufficiently competent to complete this work.

This is also coupled with the uncertainty around the level of detail which the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will expect. Despite the challenges faced by the BSR, the advice is not to wait, and to commission this work as soon as possible.

Challenge 3: Sufficient detail

Although most fire safety professionals follow the current Government guidance in completing the BSCRs, we have already seen reports ranging from three pages to well over 100! In most cases it is assumed that the three-page report will not be adequate, but an overly technical report is also not ideal. The challenge is not to include too much non-essential information and to design a balanced report which will satisfy the BSR.

As with all new legislation, it will take time for the question of ‘sufficient detail’ to be answered. Already, parallels are being drawn to when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced with the uncertainty around what would constitute a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment.

Challenge 4:Required information

In preparing BSCRs, the main challenge for clients is to locate the required information which the competent fire safety professional will base their report findings on. There could also be another potential challenge if key pieces of information are not available. In this case, the judgement of the fire safety professional will be crucial as they will need to decide whether they have enough available information to reach a conclusion. They will need to decide if the overall control measures are adequate or if further additional surveys and inspections will be required.

Challenge 5: Competence

It is vital that fire safety professionals are competent to complete this work for in-scope buildings. The current government guidance requires the BSCR to include the justification as to why the individual fire safety professional is deemed to be suitably competent. Professional judgement in preparing the BSCR is paramount; we have already encountered approaches taken by other service providers based on information gathering and collation only and one which is somewhat limited in terms of exercising professional judgement.

Challenge 6: Building Safety Act IT solution

In preparing the BSCRs, it will be necessary to hold a significant amount of information about each in-scope building (Golden Thread information). This includes a range of reports and surveys that will help the fire safety professional develop an understanding of the risks of an incident occurring and how the building is likely to perform in the event of a fire or structural failure.

The Government is looking for those responsible for building safety to adopt digital solutions. While it can be sometimes challenging to a find a suitable platform, some of the key factors to consider include the quality of reporting functions, dashboards, the ability to store ‘Golden Thread’ information, and the management of Resident Engagement requirements. Meridian, our risk management software, offers all the above functionality and more, making it easy to manage your compliance activities. With Meridian you can save time, save money, reduce effort, and reduce the burden of managing compliance with disparate and multiple stand-alone processes.

There are many challenges around preparing BSCRs which are intensified with the uncertainty around legal timescales and the BSR enforcement approach. For now, our advice is to:

• Appoint a competent service partner to provide support in preparing the BSCRs.
• Agree a roll out plan with timings based on risk (e.g. starting with building height and the number of flats).
• Identify a suitable platform to host and manage the fire safety information necessary to produce the reports and to satisfy the principle of maintaining the buildings’ Golden Thread of information.

Making sure your business is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of your buildings, and the people within them, is vital. It’s important to stay up to date on changing legislation so that you can take the necessary steps to ensure compliance and stay vigilant.

Get in touch with us today to get more support in preparing Building Safety Case Reports!

Contact

At William Martin, we bring unparalleled health & safety expertise and powerful technology to the table. Whatever your sector and wherever you are, we give you the support you need to keep compliant, strong, and successful. For all enquiries, please contact us or call our team on 0203 819 8829.

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