The built environment and fire industries have today (5 October 2020) set out a blueprint for improving competence and driving culture change, which includes the work of architects in relation to higher risk buildings.
Setting the Bar is the second and final report of the Competence Steering Group [CSG] and is an update of its Interim Report, Raising the Bar, published in August 2019. The work was initiated by the recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review Building a Safer Future.
The proposed overarching system of competence set out in the report is made up of four key elements:
- a new competence committee sitting within the Building Safety Regulator
- a national suite of competence standards – including new sector-specific frameworks developed by 12 working groups
- arrangements for independent assessment and reassessment against the competence standards
- a mechanism to ensure that those assessing and certifying people against the standards have appropriate levels of oversight.
These frameworks will provide the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours needed to carry out specific roles, and deliver a more rigorous approach to the essential training and assessment that is required.
The report recommends that all individuals whose work on higher-risk buildings is likely to materially affect safety outcomes, or who work unsupervised on these buildings, should meet the skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours set out in the competence frameworks developed by the industry.
The CSG is urging government to make mandatory the assessments against the frameworks for those working on higher-risk buildings, and is calling on government to take the lead by requiring that the competence framework set out within this report [subject to their review against the Overarching Competence Framework Standard currently being developed through BSI] must be met by any company or individual working on any higher-risk building.
The Full Report Setting the Bar and accompanying Annexes can be downloaded here.
In July ARB published its own strategic statement on how it intends to ensure the competence of architects in relation to fire safety. Before the end of 2020 ARB will be issuing guidelines to the profession under the Architects Code of Conduct, explaining to architects how they are expected to raise and maintain their own levels of competence in relation to fire and life-safety design issues. In addition to this, further clarification will be provided to Schools of Architecture to ensure that all prescribed courses are covering this important area in sufficient detail.
Notes for Editors
o The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.
o Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects
o ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one independent, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
o ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.
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