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Health and Safety Executive appoints inaugural Chief Inspector of Buildings

02 March 2021

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the appointment of a Chief Inspector of Buildings to establish and lead the new Building Safety Regulator. Presently the HSE’s director of building safety and construction, Peter Baker will take up the post with immediate effect.

The Government asked the HSE to establish a new Building Safety Regulator in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and following recommendations made in the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report produced by Dame Judith Hackitt in the wake of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

In his new role, Baker will head up the Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high-risk buildings, oversee work designed to increase the competence levels of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment.

Baker will also be the first head of the building control profession and lead on the work to provide independent, expert advice to industry, Government, landlords and residents when it comes to building safety.

Commenting on his new role, Baker said: “I’m honoured to be appointed as the first Chief Inspector of Buildings and for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. I look forward to working with Government, industry, partner regulators and residents alike to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system focused on safety and standards within buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”

Baker has over 30 years’ experience with the HSE gained in the role of inspector and in a number of senior operational posts dealing with a wide range of industry sectors, including the role of the HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. Since 2017, he has led the HSE’s involvement in the Government’s Building Safety Programme.

Track record of partnership working

Sarah Newton, chair of the HSE, observed: “I would like to congratulate Peter on his appointment as the new Chief Inspector of Buildings. He has a long track record of working in partnership with industry and other regulators to bring about behavioural and culture change that improves people’s safety. His deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards and risks makes him ideally suited to shape and lead the implementation of the new building safety regime.”

Dame Judith Hackitt, independent advisor to the Government on building safety and chair of the Transition Board, added: “I’m delighted to hear of Peter Baker’s appointment as the new Chief inspector of Buildings. With his impressive background of experience gained in regulating both major hazards industries and construction, he brings a wealth of experience to this important new role. I very much look forward to working with Peter as the new Building Safety Regulator is established and as we move to establish a new regime wherein people can be confident that their homes are safe and fit for purpose.”

Lord Greenhalgh, the Minister for Building Safety, added: “I welcome the appointment of Peter Baker as the first national Chief  Inspector of Buildings. Peter will use his own and, indeed, the HSE’s wealth of experience to implement a tougher regulatory regime. I look forward to working with Peter and his team to ramp up engagement with residents and the sector as part of the biggest changes to building safety in a generation, all backed up by our £5 billion investment to fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings if 18 metres (ie six storeys) and over in England. We have a comprehensive plan in place to remove unsafe cladding, support leaseholders, restore confidence to this part of the housing market and ensure that this situation never arises again.”

The Building Safety Regulator and its functions from part of the draft Building Safety Bill published in July last year. The HSE is leading the work to design, develop and deliver the Building Safety Regulator’s functions on behalf of Government and is recruiting across a wide range of roles and expertise to make sure the new building safety regime is fit for purpose.

Indeed, the HSE is working with industry, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, local authorities, Fire and Rescue Services, residents and other stakeholders alike to pave the way for the fully-fledged Building Safety Regulator.