30 November 2022

At Clarion we’ve been looking at the ‘Safety Case’ element of the Building Safety Act since it was first mentioned in Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations and fire safety. I saw it as a vitally important way of understanding our buildings and how we manage them.

I wanted to peel the layers back and find out how each building worked. Ever since then, we have been refining our approach to the Safety Case. We’ve worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), developing our pilot Safety Case for evaluation and then working on the feedback. Our latest version is with the HSE for consideration and we hope this iteration will be the gold standard.

There are a few things I’ve learnt over these past few years that are worth sharing with colleagues who will be working on this challenge right now. Firstly, it is important that there is a ‘safety management system’ in place, and working, which links all the aspects of building safety together. We have also put our Building Safety Manager role at the centre of our system to coordinate activities on site. The Building Safety Manager's main focus is to keep residents safe and informed about the building they live in, and residents are able to check who the Building Safety Manager is in their building on our customer website.

We’ve now commissioned four reports for each Higher Risk Building:

  • Fire Risk Assessment 4 - intrusive and destructive assessment.
  • A structural survey by a qualified structural engineer.
  • An external wall survey – this would be a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW) carried out under PAS9980.
  • DSEAR assessment – this is an assessment for risks associated with fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. It is buildings which are using gas which are important for this test, but we are also doing the assessment for buildings which are fuelled by wood pellets.

In my view, all of these reports are needed to ensure a robust safety management system.

The government’s consultation documents are worth reading closely to understand their thinking. The consultation on the ‘new safety regime for occupied higher risk buildings’ is particularly worth digesting – the consultation deadline is closed but it is very instructive. Section 4 is as close as you’ll get to a template for a Safety Case.

My final tip is to look at the government website and workout which ‘tranche’ your building(s) will fall into. It is a straightforward calculator and gives a clear indication in what order the Building Safety Regulator will be considering for the Safety Cases – it is a combination of building height and number of units. We at Clarion have seven buildings in tranche 1, so our greatest focus is on these buildings.

Dan Hollas, Building Safety Director, Clarion Housing Group will be speaking on the session 'Knowing your building: how to prepare a safety case.' at Building and Fire Safety on Wednesday 22 February alongside Emma Burton, Assistant Director of Building Safety, Peabody and Emma Richman, Executive Director of Operations, Peaks & Plains Housing Trust.

Dan Hollas

Dan Hollas is Building Safety Director at Clarion Housing

Dan has over 20 years of senior management experience in the social housing sector, with extensive building safety, technical and strategic leadership expertise in asset management. Includes experience in a range of organisations including national HAs and local government, with up to circa 120k+ properties. Dan has led the Building Safety directorate at Clarion for the last 5 years developing into one of the leading teams in the sector.

Building Safety Act - Safety Case: a case study