Safety and compliance focus for LHC conference
When it comes to building safety, “people are starting to get it,” says Dame Judith Hackitt.
Speaking at our launch event for our Asset Safety and Compliance (ASC1) framework, she added that she is seeing companies and individuals stepping up, taking responsibility, and starting to collaborate as they address “the biggest change to regulation in a generation.”
She said that the next challenge would be ensuring that both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law are followed, before explaining that cultural and behavioural change is needed.
“I found a system entrenched in adversarial practices, diffuse responsibilities and a focus on low cost. The regulatory framework is changing to help us do a better job. We must now raise professional and personal standards in the provision of delivering better homes.”
Speak to residents
Dame Hackitt stressed that the Grenfell Tower tragedy must be a turning point and that residents' voices must be heard so that they “become part of the system and not victims of it.”
She explained: “Residents just want to feel that they matter. Speak to them. Listen. If we don’t treat them with respect, we are not doing our job. We have a moral and ethical duty to the people who rely on us for safe and healthy homes.”
Anthony Taylor, Interim Chair of the Building Safety Alliance, agreed: “Fundamentally, if someone asks for information about the safety of their homes, why shouldn’t they have it? We need to make sure that communication is accessible, delivered at a time that suits them, is relevant and is understandable.”
Procurement as a catalyst for change
At LHC, we believe that procurement can be one of the levers that drives cultural change. In my opening remarks at the conference, I explained that by setting clear KPIs focused on better outcomes and ensuring that collaboration happens between the supply chain and residents, procurement can help the construction industry meet its legislative and moral needs.
It is a view shared by Professor David Mosey CBE, author of Constructing the Gold Standard. “The industry knows how to do this,” he said. “But, after the financial crash, it seemed to forget the benefits of early engagement and started to focus procurement on lowest cost.”
He added that once in place, companies on frameworks should be proactive partners to ensure that everything is working as it should be and best practice is passed on.
Anthony added: “Organisations need to be able to demonstrate their credibility and that they have the collective competencies to deliver the outcomes that the client wants. It is not just about skills and knowledge – it’s about behaviours too.”
This is something we understand at LHC and why we include questions relating to competency when we score companies for our frameworks.
Making quality homes
The conference included a session on damp and mould, a growing area of concern for local authorities and housing associations. We heard from Nadhia Khan, director of customer and community at Rochdale Borough Council, who shared what went wrong in the tragic case of Awaab Ishak.
Outlining the importance of taking a whole estate approach, engaging with residents and driving action as quickly as possible, she added that it is essential to look at properties from every angle to understand the root causes of damp and mould.
With over four million homes having this issue, it is something that the industry needs to prioritise. Like safety, frameworks can help here too, providing a list of approved companies that can deliver the right services, with the right skills.
The event also introduced our ASC1 framework. It has been designed to offer a full suite of asset safety and compliance support to help public sector organisations meet government guidelines and legal responsibilities relating to building life safety and maintenance.
Developed in response to discussions with housing associations, local authorities, schools and healthcare organisations, ASC1 offers property protection and associated services; asbestos management; water testing, treatment, and management; heating and air conditioning-related services; and electrical testing and relevant support.
You can find out more about it here.