Building Safety Act 2022 – Healthcare Premises

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Building Safety Act 2022 – Healthcare Premises

Published 10 November 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022 (“Act”) which came into force on 28 April 2022 is a lengthy and complex piece of legislation.  The intention of the Act is to improve the standard of buildings by introducing significant changes to the current building and fire safety regime across England and Wales, with some aspects of the Act also applying to Scotland.  You can read the technical detail of the legislation in our recent article here

Whilst it is a commonly held belief that the Act applies only to high rise residential buildings, the remit of the Act is, in fact, far more wide reaching and there are elements of the Act, such as those relating to role of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) and those which bolster the fire safety rules, which apply to all buildings.   

The BSR will play a key role in the implementation and enforcement of the new regime and will oversee the safety and performance of all buildings. 

It is therefore imperative that those parties with the responsibility for the design, construction, operation or maintenance of all buildings are aware of their obligations under the Act.

In addition, the Act imposes a much more stringent regime for building safety during the planning, design and construction phase and the ongoing occupation of  “higher risk buildings.”   

Higher risk buildings are defined as buildings which are at least 18m high, or have at least 7 storeys and contain at least 2 residential units.  There is some flexibility in the Act for the Secretary of State to make regulations as to which types of building should be included and excluded from the definition of higher risk building.  

The application of the Act to health care premises has not yet been laid out in secondary legislation however, in its recent consultation document, the Government confirmed its proposals to exclude existing hospitals and care homes from the definition of higher risk buildings which are already in occupation.

Their reasoning for this is that, once occupied, these types of buildings are workplaces which will be subject to a raft of safety legislation, including stricter fire safety regulations under the Act, which places obligations on those responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of such buildings, to carry out their duties in such a way so as to ensure the safety of all persons using the premises.

In this consultation, the Government further proposed that the definition of higher risk buildings will include hospitals and care homes (which meet the height threshold) during the planning, design and construction.   

The Act creates a new gateway procedure which imposes milestones which will need to be reached from the inception of a construction project for a higher risk building (which more than likely will include hospitals and care homes, as set out above), with the BSR monitoring compliance.  

A project will not be able to proceed on to the next gateway without approval from the BSR.  It is important to note that works is defined very broadly under the Act so could encompass not only new build hospitals and care homes and major construction works but also include refurbishment works being carried out to these properties.  The implications for the health estate are therefore far reaching, as even minor works will potentially be caught by the stringent requirements of the Act. 

Managers should be alive to the more stringent fire safety requirements in respect of their existing estate and whether you are involved in the construction of new healthcare facilities or considering undertaking refurbishment works to your existing healthcare premises, you will also need to be mindful of your obligations under the Act to ensure compliance at every stage of the project to avoid falling foul of the legislation.   

We have recently issued an article with some practical tips for project teams and owners of property which will be affected by the Act but if you do require any further advice then please get in touch with Stan CampbellFiona Gill or Ben Thornycroft .

Authors

Stephanie Bagshaw

Stephanie Bagshaw

Leeds

+44 (0) 113 251 4879

Fiona Gill

Fiona Gill

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6410

Stan Campbell

Stan Campbell

Bristol

+44 (0) 117 918 2179

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