Raising the Bar Competence Report: Explained

31 Aug 2019

Published in: Building, August 2019

Earlier this month the Competence Steering Group released its first response to Hackitt – an interim report on competence schemes for all people working on high-risk residential buildings. If implemented, it could be one of the biggest shake-ups the industry has seen in decades. But has the report been set up to fail?

The horrific fire at Grenfell Tower has rightly raised huge questions of all kinds about the construction industry – of the codes and regulations it follows, of the products it uses, of the way it procures, of the way it manages the buildings it builds, and of how it responds when rules are bent or broken. Work to answer those questions has been ongoing ever since. But until last week’s publication of a report, called Raising the Bar, relatively little has been said about one of the most fundamental questions of all: are the individuals in the industry competent to do what they do?

The 600-page report, the culmination of behind-the-scenes collaboration by more than 150 institutions and 300 professionals, aims to be a blueprint for how the industry can ensure its designers, engineers, installers and managers are verifiably competent to design fire-safe buildings. Drawn up in response to Dame Judith Hackitt’s report on fire safety regulation, its initial aim is to create a framework for the safe construction of high rise housing blocks – high risk residential buildings or HRRBs in Hackitt’s jargon. But its ultimate ambition is much broader: nothing less than a system for proving life-safety competency of individuals working across the whole industry.

Jenny Burridge, head of structural engineering at the Concrete Centre, says she is concerned this complexity could limit industry buy-in: “This report shows just how complicated a task this is. We’ll need to guard against this becoming a kind of bureaucratic nightmare.”

By Joey Gardiner

Contributor - Jenny Burridge, head of structural engineer at The Concrete Centre