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16th October 2018

Health & Safety – Mandatory safety competence test for architects

A response of the independent review into the Grenfell Tower fire of June 2017, in which 71 people tragically lost their lives, has put increased pressure on architects to be able to demonstrate to the construction industry, clients and procurement bodies that they have the appropriate skills and competence in both health and safety and life safety in order protect the users of the buildings which they design.

As a result of this pressure the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are developing a mandatory test for architects which is anticipated will be launched in 2019. The curriculum for this test will cover architects responsibilities under the Construction, Design and Management Regulations (CDM 2015) as well as other relevant health and safety legislation, design risk management and the architects own personal health and safety when working away from the office. Already architects are expected to meet a standard of health and safety knowledge set out within the architectural education criteria and then as an ongoing arrangement under CPD requirements (a minimum of two hours health and safety study per year). Architects are also bound by RIBA’s code of conduct in that they can only accept projects for which they have the necessary skills and competence to deliver. The test to be introduced will be competency based and while it is proposed that it can be retaken if the necessary pass criteria is not met a chartered member (of RIBA) would have their membership suspended until they do pass and thus demonstrate their competency.

The introduction of this test by RIBA is encouraging. Measures designed to raise standards of health and safety of any aspect in the ‘evolution of a building’, from initial concept, design and specification, through construction and on to its subsequent usage, can only be considered as positive progression to avoiding tragedies such as that which happened at Grenfell Tower. The message for the client though remains as it has been under CDM 2015 and that is, in the context of this issue, to ensure that the contractors and designers they appoint to a project have the appropriate skills and competence to safely deliver it.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Gary Foggo.

16th October 2018