To improve the safety of residents, the latest Building Safety Act 2022 updates have added major new responsibilities for Accountable Persons and building owners, including creating a Building Safety Case Report.
From April 2023 up until the 1st of October 2023, Principle Accountable Persons in England must register high-rise residential buildings using a dedicated online portal. Once the first step is complete, a Building Safety Case and Building Safety Case Report will have to be compiled and submitted to the BSR for review. If the building is deemed safe and compliant, a Building Assessment Certificate will be issued, certifying its safety.
Building Safety Case Report Timeline
For those tempted to ignore or delay this process, it is worth noting that failing to register and secure a Building Assessment Certificate will be a criminal offence.
In this article, we will help you understand the process of compiling a Building Safety Case and Building Safety Case Report and offer advice relevant to assessing your smoke control systems as a part of the report.
Who is the Accountable Person (AP) and Principle Accountable Person (PAP)?
To begin with, it is important to understand the key roles within a building and what each one means. In every building, there are people with different responsibilities that ensure its smooth operation and safety.
Who is the Accountable Person (AP)?
Accountable Persons (APs) were introduced as dutyholders for residential high-rise buildings (HRBs) by part 4 of The Building Safety Act. APs can be organizations, businesses, or individuals who own, have responsibility for, or maintain HRBs, including common areas like corridors and lobbies. Their primary duties are:
- to prevent building safety risks, specifically the spread of fire and structural failure, by taking all reasonable steps to mitigate these risks
- work to reduce the seriousness of an accident in case one occurs
Who is the Principle Accountable Person (PAP)?
When a building has only one Accountable Person, they are also deemed the Principal Accountable Person (PAP). However, in buildings where there is more than one AP, the APs responsible for the structure and exterior of the building are appointed as Principal Accountable Persons (PAPs). On top of their AP duties, PAPs must also:
- register existing buildings with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) between April 2023 and October 2023
- register all new buildings before they are occupied
- prepare a safety case report for their building, demonstrating that all building safety risks have been assessed, and reasonable steps have been taken to control them
- provide this safety case report to the BSR upon request, and the BSR will review it during the building assessment process
- apply for a building assessment certificate when directed to do so by the BSR
Accountable Person (AP) vs. Principle Accountable Person (PAP)
What is a Safety Case and how is it different from a Building Safety Case Report
The Safety Case is a collection of information and documents that show the Accountable Person is actively working to find, control, and reduce the risks related to fires and the structural integrity of a building. It should provide evidence of how a system is safe and ensure that it meets certain standards and regulations.
In line with the latest government regulations, the Safety Case and all other information surrounding a building’s safety must form a ‘Golden Thread’ of digitally available building safety information. The Golden Thread is defined as the information that allows someone to understand a building and its safety measures and requirements.
The Safety Case is a structured argument, supported by evidence, that demonstrates how potential risks are identified and controlled.
How is a Building Safety Case Report different?
The main difference between a safety case and a Building Safety Case Report lies in their scope and purpose.
A Building Safety Case Report serves as a condensed overview of critical building safety information. It is a summary of the safety case that highlights the assessments conducted regarding building safety risks. Moreover, it provides a synopsis of the building’s Fire Risk Assessment and explains the emergency procedures and plans in place for the building.
While there are differences between a safety case and a Building Safety Case Report, they do overlap in certain areas. Both documents aim to identify and manage potential risks, and both require a thorough analysis of the system or building in question. Conducting and keeping a Building Safety Case up to date is essential to creating and submitting a Building Safety Case Report.
How to compile a Safety Case
Due to the structural differences in buildings, there is no template for creating building a safety case. However the HSE recommends including the following information as a minimum:
Basic Building Information:
- Number of storeys, flats, and staircases
- Construction date, design codes, and reference to building control completion certificate
- Building height, flat types, common area details, and underground levels
- Building plans (as-built and current, if refurbished)
- Details of shared facilities in wider developments
- Overview of the surrounding area
- Your Building’s Construction:
Primary load-bearing and stability systems
- Construction materials, including facade, insulation, wall attachment, roofing, and compartmentation
- Means of access and escape with travel distances
- Applicable regulations at the time of construction/refurbishment
- Consideration of residents with evacuation challenges or language barriers
- Assessment of facilities for residents with specific needs (e.g., battery-operated mobility vehicles)
- Details of refurbishment changes, whether to the entire building, common areas, or individual parts
- Assessment of how refurbishments align with safety standards and impact building safety management
Fire Prevention and Protective Measures:
- Information on fire prevention and protective measures, including design, specification, fire strategy, and fire risk assessment
- Confirmation of proper installation, functionality, and maintenance of these measures
- Understanding of how these measures contribute to the overall fire strategy
- Information on the building’s structural components and systems, including primary load-bearing, stability systems, and secondary systems
- Consequence class based on Approved Document A and corresponding measures
- Details about foundations and findings from structural surveys or inspections
- Ongoing structural safety information and challenges, if any
Services and Utilities:
- Details of utilities such as electricity, water, gas, telephone, internet, and alternative energy sources
- Supply entry points, isolation methods, and supplier contact information
- Responsibilities for maintenance and repairs, including where the supplier’s responsibility begins
- Identification of gas supply to individual flats and its impact on building safety
Maintenance and Inspection:
- Maintenance and inspection requirements for building and equipment
- Plans for managing maintenance issues and ensuring competence of those involved
- Relevant policies and procedures from the organization’s safety management system
This information is vital for maintaining building safety and fulfilling requirements under the Building Safety Act. Keep in mind that specific details needed may vary based on the building’s characteristics and history.
What if the information is not available?
In some buildings, especially older ones, some essential documents and information may not be available. If this happens, Accountable Persons must prove they have taken all reasonable steps to find the information, including:
- Searching archived paper-based storage
- Requesting planning authority records
- Requesting building control records
- Contacting previous owners
The building’s age and information about any refurbishments should help you find out what regulations and standards were in place at the time of construction and renovation. You may need to perform system assessments to determine whether your system matches these regulations and classifies as compliant.
How to proceed if the Safety Case highlights problems
Unfortunately, the fire safety measures in some buildings are not up to standard and the latest regulations. If this is the case, you will be required to rectify any issues and ensure the safety of residents and the building itself.
While this may sound intimidating, it doesn’t mean that costly repair works have to happen immediately. The HSE recommend evaluating the risk any issues pose and forming a plan of action based on this information. If you are unable to rectify all faults before submitting your Building Safety Case Report, outline your plan and what is currently in place to protect the safety of residents.
If problems need to be resolved urgently, look for leasing solutions that allow you to spread payments throughout the next few years. This will help you pick high-quality products without a large capital outlay.
How to write a Building Safety Case Report
The best way to understand the Building Safety Case Report is to think of it as telling a story about the Building Safety Case. Rather than a list or table of contents, the report should present all the highlights of the safety case with links and references to detailed information. You should use the Building Safety Case Report to demonstrate your research and outline the steps you took to arrive at essential risk and safety conclusions.
Should you include the Building Safety Case in the Building Safety Case Report?
You will need a large part of the information in your Building Safety Case to create the report and evidence any claims you make. However, you will not need to include individual documents unless prompted by the BSR.
One thing you should include is a mechanism for accessing detailed information. These can be references embedded within the report, a list of supplementary materials, or direct links to specific documents or the information system where the relevant data is stored (The Golden Thread). This way, the BSR reviewers can access the comprehensive background information without having to request documents at each stage.
What to include in a Building Safety Case Report
While the HSE website states that there is no template for the report, it does offer a structure that Principle Accountable Persons can follow when creating it. Below, we have summarised each section and the key actions and documents required at each stage. The information is sourced from the HSE website and is subject to changes bade by the HSE.
- Add date or version numbers to documents in the safety case report.
- Include the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) and any BSR registration code.
Building Name and Address:
- Provide building name, full postal address, and a location photograph or map.
- Include descriptions for multi-block buildings and shared facilities.
- Note features in the wider area, like nearby buildings and transport routes.
- Share contact info for the building owner, principal accountable person, other accountable persons, and responsible person(s) under FSO if different.
- Include email addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses.
- Mention third-party consultants or contractors involved in the report.
- For mixed-use buildings, detail relevant parties.
Description of the Building:
- Mention the building’s construction date and applicable standards.
- Specify height, number of storeys, design, external wall systems, and relevant services/utilities.
- Describe any building work or refurbishments affecting safety.
- Provide flat count and resident profile, including those needing assistance in emergencies.
- Include floor plans for both original and current interior layouts.
- Consider information from BSR registration requirements as a starting point.
Risk assessment and control measures
Identify and Assess Risks:
- Describe the process used to identify and assess building safety risks.
- Explain how assessments influenced control measures already in place and actions taken or planned.
- If multiple accountable persons (APs), report on findings from each AP’s risk assessment.
Building Safety Risks:
- List and describe specific safety risks identified by the assessment.
- Identify how things might go wrong in the building, factors worsening the risks, potential consequences, and mitigation measures.
- Detail type and frequency of fire risk assessments and their rationale.
- Summarize significant findings from fire risk assessments related to building safety.
- Connect prevention and protective measures to risk assessment findings, outline operational systems, and describe inspection and testing protocols.
- Explain how structural condition is identified and maintained.
- For new buildings, reference initial design and construction information.
- Include Approved Document A consequence class, key structural elements, stability systems, construction materials, foundation details, findings from safety assessments, and structural surveys.
- Describe any structural surveys, reasons for their approach, findings, and plans for monitoring or future surveys.
- Outline remedial actions for identified structural problems, completion timelines, and interim measures.
- Describe measures for ongoing maintenance and inspection to ensure prevention and protective measures and building integrity.
- Explain how maintenance and inspections are managed, monitored, and tracked to completion.
- Provide examples of effective maintenance systems, such as electrical system inspections and their scheduling, responsible parties, review processes, and management of change procedures.
- Discuss how inaccessible areas or systems are addressed.
- Highlight progress monitoring and reporting at senior management meetings, along with document management procedures.
Safety management system
Safety Management System (SMS):
- Include an overview of your SMS in the safety case report.
- Provide information about roles and responsibilities of key personnel related to building safety.
- Ensure key personnel and contractors possess the necessary competency.
- Address performance monitoring and review within the SMS.
- Cover aspects such as risk assessment, maintenance, management of change, and emergency planning.
- Reference detailed information on SMS in Safety Management Systems resources.
- Describe how changes to the building are managed, considering both their impact once complete and during implementation.
- Include the process for evaluating changes’ impact on building safety risks and the safety case report.
- Highlight examples of effective change management.
- Emphasize how changes are assessed and controlled, especially regarding temporary changes, construction work, and emergency arrangements.
- Refer to Safety Management Systems resources for more on change management.
- Explain the emergency arrangements for building occupants, considering prevention and protective measures in place.
- Account for residents’ profiles, including their ability to self-evacuate, cognitive abilities, and language proficiency.
- Describe communication strategies for conveying emergency arrangements to residents and, when appropriate, to emergency services.
- Ensure that emergency plans are tailored to the building’s unique safety features and the needs of its residents.
Reporting occurrences and complaints
Mandatory Occurrence Reporting:
- Provide an overview of your organization’s mandatory occurrence reporting system, as outlined in legislation.
- Explain how this system is communicated to other accountable persons and the arrangements for reporting required occurrences to BSR.
- Summarize any reports submitted since the last safety case report, including any identified learning points or remedial actions resulting from incidents.
- Describe the system in place for investigating relevant complaints, as defined by legislation.
- Include provisions for referring complaints to BSR when necessary.
- Provide a summary of relevant complaints received since the new regime started or since the last safety case report submission, along with details on how these complaints were resolved.
Voluntary Occurrence Reporting:
- Explain any additional voluntary occurrence reporting arrangements in compliance with legislation.
Resident Engagement Strategy:
- Explain the strategy for engaging with residents in your building, focusing on effective communication of building safety information.
- Describe how communication methods are tailored to meet residents’ varying needs, taking into account their stage of occupancy.
- Highlight plans for future communication or consultation.
- Provide summaries of resident feedback, including survey results and events.
- Outline the process for consulting with residents in the event of changes to building management.
- Detail how residents can raise concerns and the process for investigating and addressing those concerns.
Demonstrate you have taken all reasonable steps
Demonstration of Managing Building Safety Risks:
- Showcase all reasonable steps taken to manage building safety risks on an ongoing basis.
- Describe how the measures in place effectively manage the unique risks of the building.
- Explain specific risk management approaches, such as accommodating different standards in various building parts due to modifications or addressing location or emergency services access challenges.
- If relevant, clarify why certain seemingly obvious measures (like removing combustible materials) aren’t feasible in this particular case.
Ongoing Work and Continuous Improvement:
- Acknowledge challenges discovered during research and evidence gathering for the safety case report.
- Address issues with existing control measures that necessitate remedial action.
- Identify additional reasonable steps to manage building safety risks.
- Provide information on planned or ongoing works, their completion timelines, and any interim measures in place.
- Ensure the report instills confidence in BSR that risks are being appropriately addressed and mitigated.
- Briefly outline how and when the safety case report will undergo review.
Key takeaways about the Building Safety Case Report
We covered a lot of ground in this article, and we won’t blame you if you are suffering from information overload by now. Let’s look at a quick summary of the most important information:
- The Building Safety Act of 2022 introduced significant responsibilities for Accountable Persons (APs) and building owners to enhance resident safety.
- Starting from April 2023 until October 1, 2023, Principal Accountable Persons must register high-rise residential buildings via an online portal.
- Following this, a Building Safety Case and Building Safety Case Report must be compiled and submitted to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) for assessment, leading to the issuance of a Building Assessment Certificate if deemed safe and compliant.
- Failing to register and obtain this certificate will become a criminal offense.
The building registration process was put in place to ensure that all buildings meet safety standards and have necessary permits. Without proper registration, buildings may not be monitored for safety and could pose risks to occupants.
Following the advice from the Building Safety Case Report is crucial for maintaining a safe building environment. By conducting thorough assessments, implementing emergency response plans, performing regular maintenance, and keeping accurate records, Principle Accountable Persons can ensure the safety and well-being of everyone within the building.