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Draft Building Safety Bill - What Does it Mean For FM?

Draft Building Safety Bill - What Does it Mean For FM?
11 August 2020 | Updated 20 August 2020
 

Linda Hausmanis, CEO of IWFM, reviews what exactly the draft Building Safety Bill means for facilities managers.

Hausmanis has been the CEO of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) since October 2016, after previously serving as the body’s Head of Professional Standards and Education. She is presently leading the institute through the second phase of a transition to position workplace and facilities management as a value-creating and distinct profession, and to create a modern professional body, providing value to a community of 17,000 and to the sector more widely. 

 

"Facilities management is fundamentally about people; and ensuring that they have a safe and healthy space in which to live and people come to work is the essence of the job. This draft bill’s fundamental importance is its acknowledgement that the occupation and management of a building; ensuring its standards are maintained accountably, responsibly and competently are equally important as the construction phase."

Linda Hausmanis

–CEO, IWFM

 

FMs Will be at the Front Line of the Bill’s Implementation

 

The publication of the draft Building Safety Bill last month is a welcome and important step forward in ensuring our buildings are safe for their occupants and avoiding a repeat of a tragedy such as that seen at Grenfell Tower. Critical to the bill is the introduction of the new, statutory role of Building Safety Manager; dedicated to the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety in a building and to ensure residents have a clear point of contact for any issues relating to safety. 

Facilities Management professionals will likely be at the front line of this bill’s implementation, and we at the IWFM were pleased to help develop the competence framework for the Building Safety Manager (BSM) role through the Competence Steering Group.  The new role will ensure that greater building safety standards can be delivered for residents in buildings in scope and will help to bring much needed clarity over who is responsible for building safety - and the competencies required to ensure that safety.  

Guidance is due to clarify how the competence of a prospective BSM should be assessed, with the competence framework encapsulated in a new Publicly Available Specification (PAS).  Given their critical role in creating safe and healthy spaces for people to live in, facilities management professionals are well placed to take on this role – and many of our members are already taking on the responsibilities that will sit within its scope. 

 

Linda Hausmanis

Picture: Photograph of Linda Hausmanis

 

Bill’s Scope Can be Expanded to Hospitals, Care Homes, Prisons and Hotels

 

Indeed, the introduction of the role shines a light on just how important the work done by facilities management professionals is. While the range of buildings to which the draft bill applies mostly covers residential buildings, including student accommodation, the draft bill is being written in a manner that its scope can be quickly expanded to hospitals, care homes, residential institutions such as prisons and temporary accommodation including hotels, hospitals and guest houses, all within the purview of IWFM membership. 

Facilities management is fundamentally about people; and ensuring that they have a safe and healthy space in which to live and people come to work is the essence of the job. This draft bill’s fundamental importance is its acknowledgement that the occupation and management of a building; ensuring its standards are maintained accountably, responsibly and competently are equally important as the construction phase. 

Whilst the bill’s publication represents a high-level overview of what to expect, further clarity on the detail is necessary and we stand ready to help articulate this further, as well as to help develop the BSM PAS. At the same time, we want to encourage our members to prepare to enhance their capability and put the necessary measures and upskilling in place so these roles can be understood and undertaken effectively. 

While this is being refined and agreed, we urge all our members, and the wider facilities management industry, to engage with the draft bill’s content – so our profession understands its importance and its implications for the future, and can begin taking the necessary steps to implement it, thereby ensuring in the future safety of our buildings and their occupants. 

Picture: A photograph of a person carrying a roll of building plans. The person is wearing a hi-vis jacket and the backdrop suggests the setting is a construction site

Article written by Linda Hausmanis | Published 11 August 2020

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