Frustrated Dame Judith tells industry to ‘get on with it’

Scope of regulator would include all buildings assessed against a range of risk factors, said Dame Judith

Scope of regulator would include all buildings assessed against a range of risk factors, said Dame Judith.

Dame Judith Hackitt has expressed frustration at how slowly the changes she demanded in her review of building and fire-safety regulations are being made, but said the industry should not be waiting to be told what to do and would be held accountable for its past failings.

She told a conference organised by technology firm NBS that the new building regulator would not be appointed until sometime next year, but said she hoped the regime would be operating ‘in shadow form’ before then.

Dame Judith added that it was ‘folly’ for the industry not to be taking responsibility now and ‘putting right the sins of the past’.

She is chairing the transition board that will appoint the new regulator, who will be managed by the Health and Safety Executive. It follows the government’s decision to accept all the 53 recommendations she made in her review.

The whole supply chain would be in the firing line, said Dame Judith, because product testing, marketing, labelling and approval processes were all ‘flawed, unreliable and behind the times’. There will be serious penalties for those who fail to comply with the regulations, she added, saying it would be more than a ‘rap on the knuckles’ under the new system.

Dame Judith wants to see more data and performance accreditation, and the use of standardised systems, plus greater collaboration across the sector.

‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leave the race to the bottom behind and change industry practice for good,’ she told the NBS conference on 13 February, confirming that the scope of the regulator would move beyond the high-rise residential sector, with all buildings assessed against a range of risk factors.

The government had already broadened the scope last year, by proposing it cover buildings of more than 18m, compared with the 30m originally proposed.

‘It is about the number and the vulnerability of the people who are exposed to risk – that is what this is all about,’ said Dame Judith.