At our SafetyNet event on the Building the Safety Case on 20th October, we heard from Kim Tichias, HM Principal Inspector of Health and Safety at the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

Kim explained that you will have to show how you are keeping your building safe by explaining how the measures you have in place in your building are enough to stop a major accident.

The new laws propose that people who manage or are responsible for high-rise residential buildings will have to take all reasonable steps to make sure their buildings are safe, put together a safety case and produce a safety case report.

The safety case is all the information you use to manage the risk of fire spread and the structural safety of your building. In the proposed new safety case regime, you will use some of the information as evidence to demonstrate (or justify) how you are preventing major accidents in your building and limiting their consequences.

The safety case report is a document that summarises your safety case.

A safety case report should not be, for example:

  • a collection of individual reports, compiled without narrative, reference or context
  • just a fire risk assessment (although this will form part of a safety case) and nothing else
  • a ‘one-off’ exercise
  • a standardised document containing generic information
  • an overly technical or complex document
  • a set of unsupported claims of safety without evidence

The safety case report should be succinct and allow the reader to understand:

  • the major hazards associated with the building
  • what measures are in place to manage, control and mitigate the risks from these hazards, including your safety management systems and the physical systems and precautions in the building
  • how these measures are maintained
  • what checks you do to make sure the measures will work when they are needed
  • how you keep the safety case up to date (eg, periodic reviews, and before and after major changes, such as when the building is refurbished)

The following sets out the timeframes and the process:

  • April – October 2023 – occupied HRBs need to register with BSR – there will be an online process to do this
  • During this time, BSR will processes registration information and prioritises HRBs – prioritisation will be based on height of building and number of residential dwellings
  • From April 2024 – based on prioritisation (tranching) duty holders will be formally requested to formally an application for a building safety certificate (BAC)
  • The BSR anticipates that it will take 5 years to process the applications for the 12,500 buildings in scope

The application for the building safety certificate for each building in scope must include:

  • The safety case report
  • The resident engagement strategy
  • Mandatory Occurrence Reporting arrangements.

Each application will be reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team led by the building safety regulator but including fire and structural safety experts.

The team will:

  • Review documentation – (including design),
  • Draw on their knowledge of fire and structural hazard and relevant standards (e.g. within existing legislative frameworks as well as building safety),
  • Contribute their opinion on whether these areas in terms of physical aspects and management, are compliant or non-compliant
  • State how far short of the standard they are. Might these shortcomings result in fire spread or structural collapse?
  • Put view in writing with reference to supporting evidence (likely to be a template)
  • Discuss findings with duty holders
  • Issue building safety certificate.

If there are still outstanding issues the BSR can:

  • Carry out on-site inspection of building
  • Take enforcement action if required.

The key messages from the BSR were to start work on preparing your safety case NOW; that data and evidence will be key and, importantly, there will be no template for the application – although there are some suggestions on the HSE website for how you might structure your report. The BSR will provide feedback on draft reports so get them in early!