Competences & registration
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Competences & registration

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Learn about competency requirements & registration process for designers working on Higher-Risk Buildings (HRBs).


A key recommendation of the Hackitt Report on regulatory reform and building safety (Buildings a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, Dame Judith Hackitt DBEFREng, May 2018), following the Grenfell Tower tragedy was lifting, making consistent and accrediting competence in the building sector.

Following the passing of The Building Safety Act, SI 2023 No.911 defines Dutyholders for all building regulation work and requires them to be competent.

Industry has working to develop competency frameworks for Dutyholders.

General building regulation work

Legislation includes competence requirements on anyone carrying out design or building work. 

The regulations set out the duties on individuals and organisations,  to ensure that they have capability to carry out work in a way that is compliant with building regulations.

Those carrying out work are expected to meet the standards set by their sector, ie, relevant training and qualifications recognised by accredited institutions, membership of an established trade or professional body, or relevant experience of the type of work they will undertake.

The regulations also set out the competence requirements that dutyholders will need to have to undertake work.

Higher Risk Buildngs

Industry and government have been working to improve the competence of those working on Higher-Risk Buildings. This work includes the development of sector-specific competence frameworks for key disciplines across procurement, design, construction, inspection, maintenance and management of buildings. 

The Institutions previous CEO, Martin Powell, set out in the September 2022 TSE the new competency framework for structural engineers working on HRBs. These competences broadly fall into technical competences and behavioural competences.

Technical competences

Engineers involved in designing HRBs will now be expected to hold skills related to structure and fire safety. This knowledge relates to both primary and secondary structural elements. The approach is similar to that taken in seismic design. Competences for those designing HRB’s include:

Design & construction

Fire & structural integrity

Secondary items:

New technologies

Material and product standards: ability to research, fully understand and assess the appropriateness of the specification and selection of appropriate British and international material and product standards relating to the design of the building structure and appreciate those standards, materials and products that have an interface with the design, construction, and operational requirements for the structural and fire safety of the building design.

Behavioural competences
Government recognise that ensuring that people possess appropriate behavioural competence is critical to achieving and maintaining building safety outcomes.
A strong safety culture  is needed to re-balance any unsafe custom and practice arising from commercial pressures.
Company leaders will be expected to provide a strong lead on safety issues in demonstrating: Dutyholders will need to demonstrate that they meet these standards and competence frameworks.
Demonstrating competence: registration

The Institution of Structural Engineers and Institution of Civil Engineers are developing a joint registration process to enable members of both institutions to demonstrate their competence against a new structural engineering HRB standard developed by the Engineering Council, who will hold a register of those of those deemed to have met the requirements.

Members who wish to be included on the Engineering Council HRB register in the structural engineering discipline will need to be interviewed and demonstrate that they satisfy the competence requirements. The process will be similar to the Institution’s Professional Review.

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