HSE veteran Peter Baker to lead ‘biggest change in building safety for a generation’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the appointment of a chief inspector of buildings to set up and lead the new building safety regulator announced in the wake of the Hackitt review.
Peter Baker, who currently holds the role of HSE’s director of building safety and construction and has over 30 years of experience at HSE as an inspector, will take up the post with immediate effect.
Baker (pictured) was also HSE’s chief inspector of construction from 2015 to 2018, and since 2017 has led HSE’s involvement in the government’s Building Safety Programme, which includes the removal of dangerous ACM cladding from high rise buildings across England.
The creation of the new regulator was one of the recommendations of the 2018 Building a Safer Future report by Judith Hackitt, which was published following the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people in June 2017.
Its purpose is to deliver a new regulatory regime for high risk buildings, oversee work to increase the competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of building safety across the built environment.
Baker will also be the first head of the building control procession, and lead work to provide independent, expert advice to industry, government, landlords and residents on building safety.
He said: “I am 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 to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”
Hackitt said she was “delighted” at the appointment, adding: “With his impressive background experience in regulating both major hazards industries and construction he brings a wealth of experience to this important new role.”
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HSE chair Sarah Newton also welcomed the appointment and said that Baker had a “deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards”.
She added that Baker 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”.
Last week the government announced an extra £3.5bn to remove unsafe cladding from buildings of 18m in height and above, although residents of buildings below this height were instead offered loans to remove the cladding.
The new regulator is part of the draft Building Safety Bill, which was published in July last year.
The bill, which will put the government’s building safety reforms into law, is currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny before being introduced to parliament.