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Peter Baker announces retirement as Chief Inspector of Buildings

14 May 2023

IN THE wake of a long and successful career, Peter Baker has announced his retirement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the key role of Chief Inspector of Buildings. Philip White, the HSE’s current director of regulation and the former head of its construction division, will take over Baker’s responsibilities on an interim basis pending recruitment of the next Chief Inspector of Buildings.

Baker was appointed Chief Inspector of Buildings in mid-February 2021 to establish and then lead the Building Safety Regulator, itself an independent body established by the Building Safety Act 2022. The Building Safety Regulator was set in motion in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and recommendations outlined in Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ report that emerged subsequent to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

In his role as the Chief Inspector of Buildings, Baker headed up the fledgling Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high-risk buildings, overseeing work purpose-designed to increase the competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment.

The role of Chief Inspector also witnessed Baker becoming the first head of the building control profession, duly leading the work to provide independent and expert advice to industry, Government, landlords and residents on the key-critical subject of building safety.

Prior to becoming Chief Inspector of Buildings, Baker had already amassed upwards of 30 years’ experience with the HSE as an inspector and in a number of senior operational posts dealing with a wide range of industry sectors, including the role of HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. From 2017, Baker had been at the forefront of the HSE’s involvement in the Government’s dedicated Building Safety Programme.

Smooth transition

The news paves the way for a smooth transition of senior leadership within the HSE’s construction operations and building safety responsibilities as the Building Safety Regulator programme “continues to remain firmly on track”.

For his part, Philip White joined the HSE as a trainee inspector in 1985 and has experience of regulating a broad range of industries. As director of regulation for the HSE, White has played a leading policy role in setting up the Building Safety Regulator across the last three years.

Commenting on his new role, White observed: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading the regulatory programme for building safety at a time when stability will be key to the delivery of our new operational services, and will do so until an open competition for the permanent position is held.”

Safety and performance

The Building Safety Regulator exists to raise building safety and performance standards and oversee a new stringent regime for high-rise residential buildings, as well as overseeing the wider system for regulating safety and performance of all buildings and increasing the competence of relevant regulators and industry professionals alike.

The Building Safety Act gained Royal Assent on 28 April last year and introduces vital reforms to afford residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections. The legislation overhauls existing regulations, creating lasting change and making clear how residential buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe going forward.

Full implementation of the Building Safety Act will be realised in October 2023, which means that each building owner should have their building safety regime in place by this time.