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Friday, December 11, 2020

BESA commits to new safety culture

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has demonstrated its commitment to improving the safety standards of buildings by signing the government-backed Building a Safer Future Charter.

The Charter was one of the initiatives to emerge from the review of building regulations and safety carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. By signing it, the Association is committing itself and its members to be part of the profound cultural and behavioural change demanded by Dame Judith to improve safety and protect building occupants.

Signatories must demonstrate how they are putting people’s safety first in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of buildings.

“Signing this important commitment is not an empty gesture,” said BESA chief executive David Frise. “The Association and its members believe passionately in the Hackitt-inspired campaign to change the culture across construction supply chains that led to the Grenfell tragedy and countless other quality failures that continue to affect the lives of people in buildings every day adversely.”

He pointed out that BESA had been preparing its members for the changes now enshrined in the draft Building Safety Bill since the publication of the first Hackitt report and been advocating for higher standards of competence and compliance for many years.

“The general public has lost its confidence in the construction industry for excellent reasons, and that affects us all,” he added. “The BSF Charter is a way for us and other like-minded organisations to make a transparent commitment to change and be held to account if we fail.”

The charter was launched by a group of local authorities, contractors, housing associations and property developers, with the support of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).  It is managed by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), which set up a not-for-profit organisation (Building a Safer Future Ltd) to lead and develop the initiative. 

By signing the charter, BESA is making several serious commitments including agreeing to collaborate to help deliver culture change across the built environment sector; to put the safety of people at the centre of decision making by the Association and its members; to be transparent in the interest of safety; ensuring there are clear competence requirements for companies and people; refusing to allow any compromise on quality or value for money that could undermine safe practices, and to set out and communicate clear responsibilities within its own organisation.

BESA has already revised and strengthened its Competence Assessment Standard, which is used to assess the suitability of firms for membership by testing and independently auditing their technical and behavioural competence and ability to comply with industry best practice and building regulations.

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