Whilst the parameters of responsibility have changed for principal architects, Paul Bussey and Stuart Pierpoint believe the new Building Safety Act presents an opportunity for a more ethical and collaborative approach to building design 

The new safety regime introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force on 1 October 2023, putting residents at the heart of a new system for building safety. Making all players in the construction industry more accountable for keeping buildings and their occupants safe, Paul Bussey from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and Stuart Pierpoint from MSA Safety offer their insight on the implications for architects…

Paul Bussey, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Paul Bussey is an architect at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

An architect’s perspective

The Building Safety Act is a whole new world for architects. As the principal designer, it significantly increases our responsibilities, designating us as a ‘guiding hand’ for health and safety issues.

Some people think the Act only applies to higher risk projects - wrongly believing there is no need to worry if they don’t work on high-rise buildings. 

However, this is not the case. The act increases architects’ responsibilities for safety in the design and construction of all buildings.

So, what does the new regime mean in practice for architects?

Well, it’s our job to eliminate hazards like fire and falls from height so far as is reasonably practical. We also need to reduce risks from remaining hazards.

This means specifying safety solutions that will keep building contractors, maintenance workers and residents safe as well as be cost-effective and work well visually and structurally.

We can’t be accountable for all the details ourselves, we will need increased support from the experts in our wider team including structural engineers, CDM advisers, building regulation advisers, fire safety experts, facade consultants and maintenance consultants.

We also need to work with industry more closely than we have done in the past. In particular, we will be seeking greater levels of transparency from manufacturers about their products so that we can be confident that we are specifying solutions that are fit for purpose.

Our responsibilities under the Building Safety Act don’t stop there. Once we have decided on the solutions that will keep people safe, we need to demonstrate to the Building Safety Regulator that we have complied with their requirements and that the solutions we have specified will work. This requires us to provide the regulator with a visual document giving calculations, architectural drawings, sections, structural detail and so forth.

If we take a fall protection system, we must demonstrate that the system will do the job it is supposed to do – to keep someone safe in the event of a fall. This would include ensuring that a fall restraint is impossible and that in the event of a fall off the edge of a roof, the entire fall arrest system is acceptable, including rescue. We must be confident that the system will work and ensure our client, funder and insurer are happy too.

Manufacturers have a key role to play here in providing us with the high-level information we need to get a solution approved fast. We don’t want chapter and verse on everything – we need to know what’s relevant and current that will help us demonstrate we are fulfilling our responsibilities under the new Act.

I recognise that this can all sound a bit overwhelming but remember that as an architect you are only responsible for managing safety risks so far as is reasonably practical. No one expects you to eliminate risks entirely. The new regime boils down to all the different players in the construction industry taking a more ethical approach and I, for one, welcome this.

Paul Bussey, architect at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris


Stuart Pierpoint, MSA Safety

Stuart Pierpoint is specification sales manager at MSA Safety

A manufacturer’s perspective

For manufacturers, the Building Safety Act represents a big change in emphasis, ushering in a world where we need to take a scrupulously ethical approach. The consequences for those who behave unethically are pretty stringent – two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

In practice, the new regime means that manufacturers need to be more transparent when it comes to compliance. Fall protection manufacturers offering products that only comply with the 1997 EN standard, rather than the revised 2012 standard, must make this clear and avoid misleading claims that their product meets ‘current standards’.

As an industry, we also need to be much clearer about when a product is ‘fit for purpose’ and when it isn’t – and be able to provide evidence to support any ‘fit for purpose’ claims.

It is possible that some fall protection systems have not been tested on the same substrate that the architect intends to use. Again, the load bearing capability differs between different substrates – thinner pliable substrates will have far less capabilities than heavier and denser substrates and both these factors are important considerations when choosing a fall protection system that is ‘fit for purpose’.

As manufacturers, we need to simplify the correct specification of a system. Manuals and documentation must be correct and regularly updated - making it clear what a product can and can’t do, what its limitations are and where it’s successful. Wording and imagery in these documents should also be clear for multiple users and in multiple languages.

We also need to ensure that our labelling, serialisation and evidence for any quality claims are all correct, that we follow quality management processes to the letter, do enough batch conformance testing to know that our products are being manufactured correctly, and carry out the correct audit trail with our manufacturing.

Manufacturers also need to work in close partnership with both installers and architects. When we have worked with an architect to help them select a ‘fit for purpose’ fall protection solution, it’s important that their specification for the roofing type is maintained so that our recommendation for the safest system is accurate.

In short, there is a lot that manufacturers can do to support architects and help achieve the new Act’s vision.

Stuart Pierpoint, specification sales manager at MSA Safety