Seeking to employ a Building Safety Manager


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The role of the Building Safety Manager is a new one created under the Building Safety Bill.  All high-rise blocks that are taller than 18 metres or six storeys will have to be managed by a Building Safety Manager so it's important to ensure that anyone appointed to this role has the relevant skills, knowledge and experience to carry it out effectively.

What does the role entail?

A Building Safety Manager will have to support the Accountable Person (another new role under the draft Bill), the person or entity with ultimate responsibility for assessing building safety risks and ensuring that safety standards are adhered to. The Building Safety Manager will have to pass on details of any work that has taken place on the building as well as ensuring that the building is meeting the Regulator's requirements. 

A Building Manager's tasks will include co-ordinating the building's compliance programme including fire equipment, portable appliance testing, alarms and any other compliance works. A fire risk management system, including fire evacuation and security arrangements as well as the management of risk assessments must also be implemented and co-ordinated.  In addition it will be the job of managers to contribute to internal policies and procedures as well as ensuring that all relevant aspects of health and safety legislation and Building Regulations are adhered to.

What special skills are needed?

It will be important for a Building Safety Manager to have appropriate building and fire safety qualifications. The Chartered Institute of Building is introducing two new qualifications, the Fire Safety Certificate for Construction and the Diploma in Building Safety Management. These will enable the competence standards that a Building Safety Manager needs to carry out their role to be met and may well be something that organisations will require a prospective candidate to have in future.

In addition to technical building knowledge and the capacity to be very organised, a Building Safety Manager will also have to have good communication skills to build a relationship of trust with residents.

The issue of resident engagement is key. Knowing the building risks is one thing, but teaching residents to reduce this risk will be important. Fire risk will be increased in some situations by the behaviour of residents and so it will be necessary to get them on board to ensure that these risks are kept to a minimum.

A sense of community will be an important way of encouraging residents to look after their properties and a successful Building Safety Manager will be able to foster this sense of engagement to promote safety messages. In order to aid effective communication with residents a Building Safety Manager will have to have a proper understanding of equality and diversity to enable them to work round language barriers, or certain cultural customs to gain trust.

Issues

People with the right experience and qualifications are thin on the ground.

  • If you have little need for a dedicated Manager, you will need to think creatively. Does it have to be one individual? It may be that a team of people could be employed to fulfil the role instead. Many organisations will have dedicated staff already who have considerable knowledge of their buildings and may choose to capitalise on this expertise to develop the Building Safety Manager role into several different roles which come together to fulfil the Building Safety Manager requirement. 
  • Could you think about partnering with another organisation to recruit one Manager?
  • Another thing to consider may be outsourcing the Building Safety Manager function. If you do not have the necessary expertise in-house then outsourcing could be a good option, although in terms of fostering a sense of engagement with residents you may decide that an in-house appointment will provide more sense of continuity. 
  • If you can't recruit, how will you cover this legal risk?

Housing providers are going to have to use creative thinking when considering the requirement for a Building Safety Manager.

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