Dismay over progress of culture change in the built environment industry

Latest News Thu, Jan 13, 2022 10:08 AM

The third annual report from the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) since it was formed in 2018 has been released and criticises the slow speed of change with the construction industry following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who led the Government’s review of building regulations following the tragedy and spearheaded calls for a “culture change” across the entire industry, has expressed growing concerns at the failure to adopt new tools and frameworks.

Over the last three years the group has met every three months and has engaged with various parts of the supply chain that delivers residential high-rise buildings to challenge them to drive the much-needed culture change ahead of and to underpin legislation. Some of the key players have attended ISSG to report on their progress.

The report presents a summary of activities over the last year, identifies areas where progress is being made but also highlights areas of continued concern.

“There is a mixed picture – some organisations making excellent progress while others are holding back saying they cannot make changes ‘just yet’ until they see more detail, and are required to do so, in legislation,” says Dame Judith in the introduction to the report.

“It has been crystal clear to many of us from the outset that legislation alone will not deliver the outcomes we are looking for. The culture of the industry itself must change to one which takes responsibility for delivering and maintaining buildings which are safe for those who use them.

“What has become even more apparent over the last year is the huge amount of work which has been undertaken by third sector bodies, who support or represent various parts of the industry. Their work has been commendable and in the last year we have been particularly pleased to see the progress which has been made within the Considerate Constructors Scheme in establishing both the Building a Safer Future Charter and working with the Construction Products Association on the Code for Construction Product Information.

“These and other examples show just how much has been done to provide industry with the tools and frameworks it needs to accelerate the pace of change and to rebuild trust and confidence in and across the sector.

“But the lack of take up of these vehicles is a serious concern. To date only a small number of the usual players have committed to be part of the Building a Safer Future charter and all that it entails and we have heard repeatedly that there is a low level of demand for training despite the well-known issues around competence across many key disciplines.

“The challenge to industry from the ISSG is that the time has come for a significant intervention for key players within the sector to stand up and demonstrate leadership. We also want this to coincide with government setting clear and unequivocal expectations through public procurement.

“The key message must be that we need to go further and we need to go faster, ahead of legislation. It is time to differentiate between those who are ready and willing to do the right thing and lead the way and those who continue to try and hide. We need to see firm commitments to action with target dates for improvement and delivery which are then reported against.

“Such an intervention will have the full support of the ISSG and we stand ready to play our part in making it happen and in stewarding progress against challenging targets, when set.”

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