Tpas and the Health & Safety Executive

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Michael Hill, Tpas Business Development Manager reflects on a recent meeting he was involved in on the important topic of building safety.

‘Tpas & the Health & Safety Executive’ sounds like a book Roald Dahl forgot to write, but no, it’s something even better. It is the latest instalment of our work to drive home the importance of involving residents, this time with the new Building Safety Regulator which will be delivered by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

It was quite apt that in the week of continued resident evidence into the Grenfell Inquiry, the first meeting of the Residents’ Engagement Group (REG) had its first meeting. Held online and with a wide representation from organisations and individuals, we took our place in this important phase of the Building Safety Bill.

The REG is purely an advisory group made up of people with relevant experience to support the HSE in developing an effective Residents’ Panel that they want to set up ahead of the Building Safety Bill becoming law.

The session included an overview of the role of the HSE and how they see resident engagement as an opportunity to listen and learn from the experiences of residents, in a same way in which industry can learn from employees to find potential solutions in workplace situations.

It was refreshing to hear how comfortably the HSE were able to impress the importance of hearing from the frontline, in this case residents, and how much they can help the sector find the solutions to some of the problems faced. Despite the consistent call from within social housing to engage residents, much of it lacks the same kind of conviction that was shown here.

As this was the first meeting was of the group, there were a lot of timelines and scene setting, but it did give participants the chance to provide some thoughts and suggestions alongside some of the challenges that need to be met for the Residents’ Panel to be effective.

It was pleasing to hear how the HSE is willing to listen, and to be fair to them, they were honest about their frontline resident engagement experience. What was evident was a desire to learn from those in the sector with relevant experience.

Being an advisory panel, the REG has no decisions-making powers but it was great to be a part of developing what I believe will be a successful part of the building safety legislation.

My initial feelings are that if this project carries on with the same amount of openness and honesty, the Residents’ Panel will be a highly influential focal point of reference and provide a vital critical friend role to the Building Safety Regulator.

One thing Tpas members can be assured of is that we will keep them updated of any progress on this and any future building safety movements, as well as any opportunity for them to input into the discussions.