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Hackitt to reinforce safety message at BESA Conference

Building safety reformer Dame Judith Hackitt will take centre stage at this year’s BESA National Conference, which is being held online on 4 to 5 November.

As momentum gathers behind the draft Building Safety Bill, Dame Judith is expected to pull no punches as she sets out exactly what the industry must do to avoid falling foul of the new regulations.

She has already stated that some companies will not survive the new regime because they will be too slow to adapt. Despite new building regulations not being due to come into force until 2023, Dame Judith said company owners and managers needed to start making changes immediately.

Collaboration across the sector’s supply chains will be crucial to the new ‘culture’ she envisages and “laggards and dinosaurs…will drop off the end”.

“Any part of this sector that thinks it can survive by standing still or defending its current territory is sadly mistaken,” she told a recent industry summit. “I suspect that some of you are working on the assumption that [you have] two to three years before you really need to worry about this and about changes to current practices and behaviours.

“That is akin to going out on a big party on a night before lock-down in the current pandemic. You’re knowingly taking a risk that you don’t need to, and which you shouldn’t, and you are ignoring the potential consequences. It is also morally indefensible.”


Dame Judith, who is chairing the board overseeing the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator said change should start in the boardroom. She has also suggested that processes like design and build may not survive the new regulatory regime as they do not always support building safety.

BESA has been preparing for the changes outlined in the Hackitt Review for some time and chief executive David Frise, who will be in conversation with Dame Judith during the conference, pointed out that the proposed bill included a new competence framework for anyone designing, building or inspecting at risk buildings.

The BESA Competence Assessment Scheme that uses third party assessors to determine the technical and professional competence of members has been thoroughly revised and updated in readiness for the changes being driven by Hackitt.

“We have known about the planned changes for some time and have been campaigning for them for many years,” said Mr Frise. “The conference will be a great opportunity to hear directly from the person most responsible for driving this once in a generation reform and get a deeper understanding of how this will affect everyone – and I mean everyone – working in building engineering services.”

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