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Understanding the impact of the Building Safety Act 2022

The regulatory landscape can be confusing at the best of times. But with the right guidance and a bit of education, all property owners and managers can all ensure they stay compliant and protect the safety of all building occupants. In this blog post, our guest blogger Dave Cooper of LECS shares his insight on the impact of the Building Safety Act 2022 on the lift industry.
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The Building Safety Act 2022 & how it affects the lift industry

Receiving Royal Assent in April 2022, the Building Safety Act 2022 (the ‘Act’) creates a new regulatory regime as well as a new Building Safety Regulator for all building work. This, of course, affects the lift industry, being an integral part of any multi-storey building project. The Act sets out new requirements and directives for higher-risk buildings (HRBs) throughout their operating lifecycle. So what does this mean in reality for the lift industry, and how will it affect working practices?

What is a HRB, and how is ‘building work’ defined?

It’s important to understand the parameters of the Act, to gauge the realistic implications to each sector of the industry. Let’s start with being clear on some of the definitions:

Defined in section 31 of the Act, a ‘higher-risk building’, or HRB, is a structure in England at least 18 metres in height, or at least seven storeys, with two or more dwellings, as well as any hospital or care home which meets this height criteria.

The ‘building work’ referred to in the Act includes the erection or extension of a building, installation, extension or material alteration of a controlled service or fitting, cavity insulation, underpinning and work relating to energy performance.

Who does the Act affect and protect?

The existing Building Act of 1984 required significant updating. At nearly 40 years old, there were requirements and regulations that needed to be revised to ensure the utmost safety of every building. This new Act amends the 1984 Act substantially, creating powers for the Regulator to use new legal requirements for clients, designers and contractors when they procure, plan, manage and undertake building work. These are the duty holders under the new regime, and they must be competent to undertake the work for which they were appointed. Clients also hold a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure those they appoint are competent to perform their duties.

The Act is beneficial to residents in HRBs, strengthening oversight and protections for them and offering them a greater voice in the management of their homes. It also introduces tougher sanctions for those who threaten their safety. Taking a risk-based approach, owners of HRBs are required to manage their buildings better, however the Act is not simply limited to residential buildings, it covers hospitals and care homes, including those who have a duty to manage these as well.

Owners of HRBs have an ongoing duty to assess building safety risks, and under the Act are subject to specific obligations as ‘accountable persons’. They are required to assess structural or fire safety risks and take all reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence or minimise the impact of a major incident.

What are the regulations included in the Act?

Creating a universal change in responsibility and culture within the building industry, the Act enables legislation for the biggest changes in building safety laws for at least a generation. Detailed secondary regulations are needed to implement the powers described within it, and there are a number of themes that run throughout which need careful consideration.

  • Fire safety: The Act clarifies who has a responsibility for fire and building safety throughout the lifecycle of a HRB, with new requirements for testing of fire and evacuation related lifts, which came into force in February 2023.

  • Professional competence: Making significant proposals on professional competence, the Act requires the client to appoint a principal designer and contractor, allocating sufficient time to deliver compliance and appoint competent people.

  • Control of building work: Introducing the ‘Golden Thread’, the Act describes the requirements for the provision of information and sets out a system for control of building work by the new Regulator. This includes HRBs undergoing refurbishment as well as modifying an existing building to become a HRB.

What about existing HRBs?

This new Act covers every HRB in England, whenever it was built. With provisions implemented in secondary legislation, the regulations have significant implications for professional practices as well as contracting, manufacturing and those who own, operate, manage and maintain buildings.

What effect is this likely to have on the lift industry?

The Act will require engineers to be able to prove their competence, which is where professional registrations come in. Being aligned with a professional engineering institution makes it easier to demonstrate competence, as there is a set framework – UK Spec – against which credentials are peer-reviewed. The home of professional registration for the lift and escalator industry is the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). Becoming a member of CIBSE and ultimately registering with the Engineering Council is the best way to provide assurance of your competence.

Get educated – stay compliant

Establishing a more effective regulatory and responsibility framework for the construction industry, the Act sets out clear standards and guidance for the owners of HRBs as well as for designers and contractors employed to create new HRBs or modify existing buildings. There is clearly action that needs to be taken in education to ensure compliance. As the well-known saying goes, “A person who stands still in a progressing world is really going backwards”.

Find out more

For more information on the new Building Safety Act, visit Gov.uk or speak to industry specialists like the team at LECS UK who can help you navigate the regulations and avoid unnecessary risk or cost.

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