The Competence Steering Group (CSG) was tasked with ending the scandal exposed by the 2017 Grenfell Tower – architects and contractors believing the salesperson that products are fit for purpose.
Specifically, the CSG was tasked with responding to the competence issues raised in Dame Judith Hackitt’s report Building a Safer Future and the subsequent requirements set out in the Building Safety Act following the fire.
The response from CSG’s working group 12, led by the Construction Products Association (CPA), is a proposal set out in a 57-page report called Built environment – proposed construction product competence standard – white paper.
The Grenfell Tower fire demonstrated how the misuse of construction products can lead to fatal outcomes. However, there is currently no standard way to demonstrate that an individual has the required competence for the tasks for which they are accountable and responsible.
This white paper acknowledges that change is needed in the field of construction product competence. Individuals who supply, use, or otherwise work with construction products need to be properly assessed and deemed competent to do so, it says. This would include those from manufacturing, merchants, design, contractors, maintenance crews and others across the supply chain.
The proposal for a new standard comprising five levels of competence, as well as a methodology that defines how these can be mapped consistently by the different industries to their competence frameworks. This would ensure that everyone applies construction product competence – CPC – in the same way. It would assist regulators and duty holders in identifying what levels of competence are needed for anyone who works with construction products.
The levels outline fundamental knowledge bases applicable to all tasks with all construction products. They are designed to give a clear path of progression through the necessary competences required for different levels of responsibility and accountability. It can be used by industries to map against their existing training and qualifications and create any additional training infrastructure that may be needed.
The white paper also proposes that the standard be added to the existing BSI 8670 series, which specifies requirements for competence frameworks for individuals working in the built environment.
CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn said: “Dame Judith Hackitt rightly pointed out that our industry needs to take responsibility for competence and work in a non-siloed manner. Now the Building Safety Act is making clear that regulators will no longer tolerate an industry that does not evidence its competence. The CPC levels have been designed to provide a single framework for everyone to work to, and I would urge the industry to read this white paper and get involved in testing it together.”
The proposals are being published now to allow everyone in the built environment sector to review and consider how to apply them in their industry. It is for the different industries to choose whether and how to implement the proposals. The organisations behind the white paper hope that by the time the proposals go through the formal standards process, industries will have had the time to practically trial them ready for entering feedback via public consultation.
There will also be a series of panel-led webinars for different sectors: manufacturing, design, contracting, operations & maintenance, and merchants/distributors. The first will be for manufacturers on Wednesday 27th September. (Click here to register.)
Built environment – Proposed Construction Product Competence Standard is available to download online here.