[code_snippet id=56] [code_snippet id=27] In 2022 it was announced that the Building Safety Act was to be passed into law, in a bid to address the widespread shortcomings in fire safety...Continue Reading
In 2022 it was announced that the Building Safety Act was to be passed into law, in a bid to address the widespread shortcomings in fire safety identified post-Grenfell. The legislation mandates the implementation of recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her report “Building a Safer Future”, also known as the Hackitt Report.
Released in 2018, the report called for revisions to building safety laws, but also a “culture change.” Hackitt pointed to stringent record keeping and transfer of information as key elements that would contribute to the new safety culture envisaged. A vital component of this culture is the ‘golden thread’ approach, which will become essential for all construction industry professionals moving forward.
What is the ‘Golden Thread’ Approach?
The ‘golden thread’ approach is a baseline for the effective management and transfer of building safety information. This means those responsible have the data they need to protect buildings and their occupants. The thread begins with design, is implemented during construction and is maintained during operations, passing from one responsible person to the next should a building change hands. Following the thread will maintain consistency in safety and risk management so that no critical information is lost during a building’s lifespan.
How Does the Golden Thread Apply to Construction?
To understand the Hackitt Report’s golden thread and how it applies to construction, we need to look at where the industry fits into the bigger picture.
Firstly, detailed information on fire safety measures is needed before planning permission can be granted. These measures must be approved by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) before submitting a planning application. We can see this as the beginning of the golden thread. Before construction begins, up-to-date information is again submitted to the BSR to ensure compliance.
The design and construction duty holder must then present information to the authorities showing that design features were built according to the approved plan. This is an example of how the golden thread is followed in the transition from design to construction. The authorities will then have the power to issue a ‘gateway approval certificate’. This allows the duty holder to hand over responsibility for the building to the eventual owner or landlord.
From design to construction and handover, the golden thread of compliance is followed to uphold standards and prevent critical knowledge gaps. Three ‘gateways’ must be navigated in this process: The first gateway is opened when planning permission is granted. The second gateway allows construction to commence, and the third gateway stands between the construction and handover phases. It may be useful to think of these gateways as checkpoints for the golden thread to run through as the building is designed, constructed and finally occupied.
How Can the Golden Thread Ensure Better Fire Safety?
The Hackitt report identified shortcomings in the way building safety information was recorded and transferred between one entity and another. It noted that without the golden thread, those responsible did not have sufficient information on how to safeguard their buildings.
The golden thread is meant to ensure that fire and structural safety information is transferred effectively from one stakeholder to the next. So, the designer conveys approved information to the construction company, which completes works to specification, records relevant details, and hands it over to the client. Should the building change hands, this information is passed to the next building owner, as well as the recorded findings of any fire risk surveys or assessments.
Those responsible are better able to assess, maintain, and manage building safety when they have all the relevant information they need at their fingertips, thanks to the diligent recordkeeping and clear communication exemplified in the golden thread approach.
Understanding the Golden Thread in Practice
In practice, the golden thread will enable construction professionals to verify whether their work complies with the designers’ original intentions. For example, they can determine whether suppliers’ materials certifications are in order and if they meet design specifications. They will continue the thread with information on who performed construction and installation tasks, what their credentials were, and how completed work was checked and approved. By capturing this information, construction companies demonstrate that they have complied with building specifications and accept accountability.
Once gateway certification has been granted, responsibility for building safety is handed over. The new responsible person can bring themselves up to speed on the results of previous inspections, maintenance works and documentation guidelines. If the building changes hands, the full set of information beginning with design, passing through construction, and continuing through building management and maintenance, will be presented to the next owner.
To make this even simpler, we can look at a single element: a fire door. The designer specifies what is required of the fire door. The relevant specialists then source and install the fire door before verifying task completion with the building owner or landlord. All the information is recorded, and the new building owner receives the complete history of the fire door along with information on when inspections are due and how maintenance work should be managed. He or she can now continue the golden thread by recording all inspections and works conducted if and when responsibility for the building is transferred.
CLM Fireproofing are experts in fire safety compliance and fire remediation, so we understand how important it is to have a clear audit trail of fire safety and maintenance projects. CLM are compliant with the golden thread, from BIM in predesign. to digital record keeping of all site activity. This ensures our works are auditable, transparent and accessible. Contact the CLM Fireproofing team today to find out more.