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The Fire Safety Act 2022 and Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022

Fire Safety Act

Yesterday the newly amended The Fire Safety Act 2022 and Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force. The changes to the act implement most recommendations set by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. It is vital developers keep up-to-date with all the latest legislation. Violation of the FSA can lead to fines, imprisonment, or both.

What is the Fire Safety Act?

The Fire Safety Act (FSA) is the primary legislation in the United Kingdom that sets out the fire safety requirements for non-domestic buildings. The Act applies to all commercial, industrial, and public buildings. As well as common areas of multi-occupied buildings such as apartment buildings and dormitories. The FSA places a legal responsibility on the “responsible person” for a building typically the owner or occupier. They must ensure that the building is safe from the risk of fire and that it meets certain fire safety standards.

What are the obligations of the responsible person?

Under the FSA, the responsible person must conduct a fire risk assessment to identify any hazards that may put occupants at risk in the event of a fire, and to implement measures to reduce or eliminate those hazards. This may include installing fire alarms and other fire protection systems, providing fire-fighting equipment, and ensuring that the building is properly ventilated and that exits are clearly marked and easy to use. However, the new legislation gives additional responsibilities for high-rise residential buildings. Namely, multi-occupied residential buildings of at least 18 metres in height or seven or more storeys.

Fire Safety Management Plan

The FSA also requires that all commercial buildings have a fire safety management plan in place. The plan should outline the procedures and protocols that will be followed in the event of a fire, including evacuation procedures, the roles and responsibilities of different staff, and the locations of fire-fighting equipment and emergency exits.

Employ an Expert

Project Managers have a critical role to play in ensuring compliance with the Fire Safety Act throughout the project life cycle. From design to occupancy and management of the building. John Burke Associates provides independent expert advice on all aspects of technical support and management functions. With our guidance you can achieve a “zero defects” project through our portfolio of tailored services.

 

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The Role of a Clerk of Works

Clerk of Works Role

A Clerk of Works role (CoW) provides expert oversight and scrutiny during the construction of a building project. Acting as an independent representative of the client or owner. They are responsible for ensuring that the work is carried out in accordance with the plans, specifications, contract documents and client requirements.

The main responsibilities of a CoW

The CoW ensures that construction is carried out to the highest standards of quality and safety. It is important for the CoW to have a thorough understanding of construction processes, building codes of practice, regulations, and the requirements of the client. The main responsibilities of the role are listed below.

Reviewing and approving plans and specifications

Before construction begins, the CoW should have the opportunity to review the plans and specifications for the project to ensure accuracy. This may include checking for compliance with building codes and regulations. They will also ensure that the plans and specifications align with the client’s goals and objectives.

Monitoring construction progress

During construction, the CoW visits the site regularly to monitor progress. They ensure that the work is being carried out in accordance with the requirements. This includes checking for compliance with HSE regulations, as well as ensuring that the materials and workmanship meet the required standards.

Inspecting and testing materials

The CoW is responsible for inspecting and testing materials to ensure that they meet the required standards. This includes checking for compliance with industry standards, and also ensuring the materials are suitable for the project.

Keeping accurate records

The CoW is responsible for keeping accurate records of all construction activities, including inspection reports, test results, and any deviations from the plans and specifications. These records are used to ensure that the work is completed to the required standards and to provide a record of the project for future reference.

Communicating with the client

The CoW acts as a liaison between the client and the contractor and is responsible for communicating any issues or concerns that arise during construction. This includes providing regular updates on construction progress, as well as addressing any issues or concerns that the client may have.

Acting as an expert witness

In the event of a dispute or legal action, the CoW may be called upon to act as an expert witness to provide testimony on the construction process and the quality of the work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Clerk of Works plays a vital role in ensuring that the construction projects are built according to the plans, specifications, and contract documents. Furthermore, they ensure safety and quality standards are adhered too, while also representing client’s interests. They are responsible for monitoring progress, inspecting materials, keeping accurate records, and communicating with all stakeholders involved in the project. Speak to John Burke Associates today about our Clerks of Works Site Quality Inspection Services.

Work-Related Stress Management

work related stress

Work-Related Stress Management

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently published the 2021/22 health and safety statistics. Concerningly, the statistics show that 914000 workers are suffering from work related stress, depression, or anxiety. As leaders we must be proactive in approaching such matters with our employees. In this month’s blog we have put together our top tips for maintaining employee mental health wellbeing.

Why is it important to manage workplace stress?

In addition to your duty of care towards your workers, any stress in construction is a matter of health and safety. Construction workers will often risk their health and safety more so than in any other job. From operating heavy machinery to handling potentially hazardous substances. The physical demand of such role is alone a risk to health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is imperative they can carry out their tasks with a clear mind, focusing on their actions. If workers are feeling stressed or distracted whilst carrying out such tasks the risks increase greatly.

What can leaders do to help?

Open lines of communication

You should encourage all workers to speak up when they are feeling unhappy about work. Ensure that you listen and take on board what your workers tell you, no matter how trivial it may seem. Dismissing smaller issues means there is potential for it to become a much bigger issue. Furthermore, it can leave your staff feeling undervalued, unimportant and, in some cases, hopeless.

Heed the Warning Signs

As managers we should be looking out for any warning signs that workers wellbeing is at risk. This could be little things such as seeming more tired or irritable. Or it could be more obvious such as clashing with other workers on site. All of which are warning signs that your worker is struggling and may need your help to cope with stress.

Promote Wellbeing

It is always beneficial to invest in employee wellness, be it perks such as gym memberships or simply providing healthy refreshments. Promoting a healthy lifestyle will contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of your staff.

CDM 2015 Health & Safety Advisory

John Burke Associates offer CDM 2015 Health & Safety Advisory services as part of our portfolio. This includes involvement with clients and Principal Designers at all stages to make a significant contribution to reducing risks during construction. Speak to our team today to find out more.

 

HSE Work Right | Your Health | Your Future

health and safety

Late last month, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched their new campaign to combat serious aches, pains, and strains in construction. Many of us working in the construction industry have suffered with some form of workplace injury in our career. In fact, over 40,000 construction workers suffer with injuries to their muscles, bones, joints and nerves. While many organisations focus on avoiding major injuries, it’s these seemingly minor injuries affecting the industry on a major scale.

Cause and Effect

One of the primary causes of such aches and pains is the lifting and carrying of heavy objects on site. The daily tasks a construction workers body endures takes its toll to such a degree that it affects every aspect of their lives. From an organisational perspective it may be seen as hazards of the job, but this view is short-term. Such injuries can slow down production, cause low morale and generally become an issue in your organisation. Therefore, HSE inspectors will be carrying out 1,000 inspections in October and November to see how workers are moving heavy materials.

Your Responsibilities

Employers are required by law to prevent the ill health of their employees where possible. This includes long-term injuries which can develop over time such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). It is your responsibility to ensure your workers have the correct training and equipment to carry out their duties.

Management Advice

Implementing and enforcing a clear health and safety strategy for your workforce now can save time, money and stress later. Taking a pragmatic approach to ensure workers are aware of the risks and manage them correctly. Here at John Burke Associates we provide CDM 2015 Health & Safety Advisory services for both the client and the Principal Designer. We offer them assistance with their respective ‘duties’. We also provide advice and support to ensure clients comply with their statutory obligations. Click here to find out more about our CDM 2015 Health & Safety Advisory services.

 

Managing a Workforce in National Mourning

Queen Elizabeth

John Burke Associates joins the country, if not the world, in mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth III.  We would like to express our sincere condolences to the Royal Family during this sad time.  Our offices will be closed, and projects suspended on Monday, 19th September 2022, as a mark of respect as our Monarch is laid to rest.

Are Organisations Obliged to Close?

As RICS Chartered Surveyors we feel it is appropriate to take time to commemorate Her Majesty’s Reign. However, the Government has made it clear that there is “no obligation on organisations to suspend business during the National Mourning period”. Whilst this may be the case, we review the CLCs guidance in this blog as to what considerations you should take.

Location

The CLC urges organisations in the Central London area to consider potential site restrictions during the State Funeral. There is expected to be a large influx of people entering the capital to pay their respects. As such, there may be restrictions due to enhanced security, road closures and traffic issues, consequently causing site accessibility issues. Furthermore, local authorities within the area of Her Majesty the Queen’s Lying-in-State have instructed several construction sites not to carry out any noisy works or freight deliveries until Tuesday 20 September.

Reputation

Due to the nature of construction, any works within the capital could be seen as disruptive to gathering mourners. In an age of social media and instant communication, organisations are encouraged to consider the reaction to continued works. Some may perceive this as inappropriate or disrespectful to continue such works during a period of National Mourning.

Workforce

Another consideration you must make, is your workforce. Whilst it is clear there is no statutory entitlement to time off, workers may expect the opportunity to pay their respects. You must consider the moral implications of refusing them the right to do so.

Where Closure is Not Possible

It is accepted that certain parts of the industry where essential services are involved cannot cease work. In such circumstances the following guidance should be applied.

  • Use a common-sense approach to ensure that you are operating respectfully during this period
  • Consider staggering the start and end times of work on site
  • Minimise road movements of freight over the next week

For more information you can read the full guidance by clicking here

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth III | 1926 – 2022

Building Safety Act 2022

Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Bill was granted Royal Assent on 28th April 2022. This means that whilst it may not deliver what everyone wants, it is a step in the right direction. This act aims to fundamentally change the way UK property is designed, built, and managed. Thus, closer to resolving the building safety crisis and giving leaseholders more protection. However, the bill comes with hundreds of clauses which require further clarification through secondary legislation.

RICS Response

RICS has released an article on their website which details their intended solutions to the concerns which surround the bill.  They continue to work constructively with Government, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR within HSE), BSI and industry to support the measures in the Building Safety Act to be implemented swiftly. We have summarised the points they have raised in the article below.

Timing & Clarification

It is imperative that organisations such as RICS who represent our profession (and others impacted by the act) can give their valuable input. The industry will need a clear brief from our government outlining the timeline going forward. This includes when the legislation will be ready and forewarning any consultations to be brought in. Therefore, allowing the industry to support it at pace.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Whilst PII does not feature in the bill, RICS feel it is a vital component in the implementation of the Act. Currently, it seems the PII market is too weak to meet the requirements of the industry. This is a point RICS have pursued since late 2018 and continue to call out. They feel it needs delivery of the long-awaited Government EWS (External Wall Systems) PII scheme to support professionals that are carrying out external wall assessments. Furthermore, they also need the Government to intervene to find a solution for PII firms providing wider fire risk and building safety assessments and those carrying out remediation; and for all those involved in HRBs design, construction, and management.

Remediation Funding

RICS continues to support the Government to review holistic ways to fund the remediation programme. But ultimately up-front funding should be made available to leaseholders along with a clear timeline for remediation. Consequently, enabling mortgage lending, meaning sellers can sell, and buyers can proceed with confidence.

Click here to read more

Train to Become a Clerk of Works

What is the Role of a Building Inspector?

Are you a site supervisor or senior building tradesman looking to progress your career? Retraining to become a Clerk of Works or building inspector may be the next step. John Burke Associates can offer the right candidates with transferable competences, on-site mentoring. If you can answer yes to all the questions below, this could be the role for you.

Do you have experience in new build construction and/or remediation projects?

Do you hold a construction related qualification at ONC level or higher?

Do you need a new challenge or a change of career?

What is the Role of a Clerk of Works?

The role of a Clerk of Works is to provide independent third-party site inspection and is best suited to those with a vigilant approach to their duties. You will be responsible for the systematic inspection of construction work including the following.

  • Work carried out conforms with the drawings, specifications and British Standards etc.
  • Materials are measured, tested and comply to requirements
  • Anticipating and identifying potential problems, before they arise.
  • Ensuring clear communication to all parties.
  • Ensuring Health and safety guidance is adhered to.
  • Monitoring the project and compiling accurate and concise reports and records.
  • Highlighting variance in construction work, by means of sampling, benchmarking, testing and measuring.

The Benefits

Becoming a Clerk of Works or Site Inspector allows you to develop and diversify your construction skills. A change of pace from your usual duties whilst retaining a key role in the industry. You will be a self-employed consultant with a choice of full or part-time projects available. Therefore, allowing you to manage your own workflow.

What We Are Looking For

John Burke Associates requires building Clerk of Works and site inspectors in Greater London. We have both full and part-time projects across the Greater London and Home Counties regions. Such opportunities may suit experienced site supervisors or senior building tradesmen who have the relevant transferable competences. If you would like more information to train to become a Clerk of Works or Building Inspector contact Ian Carey for an informal chat.

Biodiversity Net Gain and Property Development

property developers

Biodiversity Net Gain and Property Development

In a bid to combat the climate crisis and restore nature within the built environment, property developers will soon be required to improve biodiversity. In November 2021, the government announced a landmark amendment to add biodiversity net gain to the new Environment Act 2021. This means that biodiversity net gain will become a mandatory part of the planning process. Furthermore, developers will be required to deliver a minimum 10% net gain in biodiversity.

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity net gain also known as BNG, aims to preserve the natural environment in development as well as improving where permissible. The goal is to leave nature in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. Therefore, contributing to achieving the commitments made at COP26. The recent change in legislation means it will become a mandatory requirement as of Winter 2023.

How Will This Affect Property Developers?

Many property developers are already adopting the biodiversity net gain approach voluntarily or in line with local authority requirements. The proposed mandatory legislation would give more clarity and certainty of what is expected. As we are a quality and environmentally driven consultancy, we support our clients in achieving results in this area.

Have Your Say

While the Environment Act 2021 sets out the core components, the journey to implementation is an arduous one. Therefore, a crucial part of this journey is the DEFRA led consultation. It is essential this consultation receives feedback from all interested parties to understand how best to implement the legislation. The public consultation is now open and runs until 5th April 2022. The responses will help shape the success of BNG and develop secondary legislation and guidance for all.

 Do You Need More Advice?

John Burke Associates work with a varied and prestigious portfolio of clients across the UK. Our forward-thinking approach provides pro-active advice and cost-effective solutions. We are also certified under ISO 14001 as an Environmental Management Organisation. We continue to review our procedures for improving our environmental performance.

Positive News for Procurement

Digital Construction Week

Positive News for Procurement.

According to the latest PMI from IHS Markit-CIPS UK, 30% less construction companies are experiencing supplier delays. This is in comparison with the peak of 77% reporting delays in procurement of materials in June 2021. November’s report shows under half (47%) of companies are still experiencing extended waiting times for deliveries. Therefore, suggesting that supply times are improving, and we are out of the worst phase in procurement.

“A Glimmer of Hope”

This is all welcome news to an industry which has been plagued with supply issues. Whilst the rapid input price inflation continues, operating expenses are marked at its lowest for seven months. It appears staff shortages within the haulage industry continue to affect costs. Consequently, 72% which is about three quarters of those who responded to the survey, report an increase in purchase prices. However, 3% did cite a decline.

Commercial Construction on the Rise

The report also shows that the commercial construction sector is the best performing area. With the rebound in November resulting in the quickest level of output growth in four months. This upturn means that client spending continues in response to the reopening of the economy. With commercial construction leading the way to economic recovery through new projects. This in-turn counteracts the recent decline seen in the development of new housing.

 Is This the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

It’s important to remember that input price inflation continues to be very strong. Therefore, we are not out of the woods yet. But according to Tim Moore, director at IHS Markit they are starting to see a downward trend after the peak in summer. It is also important to bear in mind that this report predates the announcement of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Here at John Burke Associates, we remain optimistic that the road to recovery will continue. Furthermore, we will continue to monitor the guidance and practices in place from our governing bodies to keep our clients informed.

 

COP26 and Commercial Property

Commercial Property

COP26 and Commercial Property

Since the beginning of the pandemic the commercial property sector has had to adapt much of how it operates. In addition to transforming buildings to be safer, adaptable, and more autonomous, the focus is now on sustainability. Consequently, the demand for more eco-friendly space and green sustainable buildings is on the rise. According to The Q3 RICS Facilities Management (FM) Survey, workplace and relocation FM is likely to see its biggest growth this year. Therefore, it’s important we follow RICS guidance to transform traditions.

Supporting Green Developments

Both investors and occupants alike are favouring sustainable solutions when it comes to property. From smart homes to the materials used to build them, the future is very much green! We are seeing a growing trend of “green buildings” bringing in a higher premium in contrast with “non-green buildings.” Such premium is now driving the market towards more sustainable developments than ever before.

Decarbonising commercial buildings

The commercial property industry is currently responsible for around 39% of energy related CO2 emissions. Furthermore, as of March 2020, “nearly two-thirds of UK homes are still failing to meet long-term energy efficiency targets with the majority of buildings predating modern energy standards” (BBC). Therefore, it is vital the industry prioritises the decarbonisation of such commercial buildings to meet net-zero targets.

Adopting Innovation

Developers are being urged to adopt new innovative technologies to retrofit buildings. Technology such as Smart Grids allows us to collate information and allow cross-communication across components and central systems. Thus, making buildings more efficient. Furthermore, software such as Digital Twin uses sensors to collect real-time data to highlight inefficiencies in a building’s energy uses. Using such technologies will accelerate the decarbonisation of commercial buildings, therefore contributing to the UN’s SDGs.

The Future is Green!

The world must collaborate to work towards a greener planet. Consequently, the demand for eco-building and retrofitting will continue to increase. As RICS Chartered Surveyors we urge you to keep up to date with industry standards. There is a RICS Commercial Property Conference on the 6 – 8 December 2021, please click here if you wish to join.