British Safety Council: Government Must Adopt New Approach to Health and Safety Regulation

Grenfell inquiry shows that the regulatory regime failed – we must honour the victims by ensuring this tragedy is never repeated

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The British Safety Council has today responded to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, published on Wednesday 30 October. Sir Martin Moore-Bick led the inquiry and the first part considers how the fire started at Grenfell Tower and the response of the emergency services that night. The second phase will consider the underlying causes of the disaster, including the decisions made around the design and construction of the cladding, the regulatory regime and the response of central and local government.

At the time of the tragedy in 2017, the British Safety Council asked that the prime minister “scraps the government’s approach to health and safety deregulation and thinks again”. The organisation reiterates that sentiment today.

Commenting on the findings of Phase 1 of the inquiry, Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, said: “This is a lengthy and detailed report and the industry will rightly take time to digest its details. However, it is clear there were serious shortcomings in the procedures for evacuating Grenfell Tower and in the readiness of the fire brigade, notwithstanding the individual heroism of the firefighters on the night.”

He went on to say: “As we look ahead to Phase 2 of the inquiry, lessons must be learnt about the choice of materials used to clad Grenfell Tower and the regulatory regime for high-rise buildings. As we said at the time of the fire, we urge all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management. These are fundamental to saving lives and sustaining our communities.

“Our thoughts must be with the families of the victims and the survivors of that tragedy. This detailed and important inquiry could not have taken place without their willingness to relive the horror of 14 June 2017. We can honour the victims’ memory by making sure that this tragedy can never happen again.”

The British Safety Council welcomes recommendations of the report relating to proactive fire door inspections, enhanced firefighting lift inspections and a significant increase in the provision of information to the fire enforcing authority.  

James Lewis, Head of Audit and Consultancy at the British Safety Council, said: “In course of our extensive work with owners and managers of property, we have seen countless examples of failure to maintain fire safety standards at the required levels. All too often, we see fire doors left un-managed and damaged, a resistance from building owners and operators to communicate and cooperate with the fire enforcing authority, as well as failures to provide suitable and sufficient information to buildings’ occupiers.”

The British Safety Council welcomes the following recommendations from the executive summary of the report and calls for the government to consider their implementation:

  1. Section 6, A and B – Legal requirement for the provision of up-to-date plans to the local fire and rescue service and provision of premises information boxes,
  2. Section 7, A and B – Legal requirement for enhanced checks of firefighting lifts and provision of information to the local fire and rescue service,
  3. Section 12, D – Provision (for all existing and future buildings) for the local fire and rescue service to send an evacuation signal to all residents of high-rise buildings,
  4. Section 15, 33:28 – Legal requirement for owners and operators of every residential building to provide information and instruction to residents in a format that can be reasonably understood by all,
  5. Section 16, A and B – Urgent inspection of all fire doors of every residential building which contains separate dwellings, as well as a legal requirement to inspect fire doors on a quarterly basis.

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