• International Workplace
  • 29 July 2020

Grenfell project manager did not know about fire safety regulations

Grenfell main contractor Rydon’s first project manager knew little of fire safety regulations or building regulations during the time that he worked on the Grenfell Tower refurbishment between May 2014 and July 2015. The Grenfell Inquiry heard from Simon O’Connor as he took the stand that, although he knew of the building regulations, he was “not familiar with them in detail”. He also said that, at the time, he did not know about Approved Document B, the main Building Regulations document outlining fire safety requirements.

Building Regulations determine the compulsory stipulations that must be achieved in the construction of buildings and approved documentation exists to offer guidance on how these requirements must be met.

Part B of the Building Regulations specifically covers the fire safety concerns within and around buildings. The approved documents for Part B outline the fire safety precautions that must be met in order to be sure of the safety of occupants, firefighters and anyone within the perimeter of the building should there be a fire.

Approved Document B covers the requirements in relation to:

  • Means of warning and escape.
  • Restricting or preventing the spread to neighbouring buildings.
  • Restricting or preventing the spread of fire within the building.
  • Providing access and facilities for firefighters.

O’Connor’s CV was presented as evidence at the enquiry, which stated that he was responsible for all operations on site, including coordinating design and management of subcontractors. He disputed this, commenting, “I wouldn’t be qualified to coordinate design; I wouldn’t know where to start.”

He said this was the first time he had seen the CV and tender document.

O’Connor worked on the Grenfell Tower project for 14 months, after which he resigned due to work pressures, the Inquiry heard. He was transferred to another Rydon project in north-east London to work out his notice.

The government has published draft legislation setting out details of how new building regulations intended to prevent another Grenfell disaster will be implemented in practice.

The draft Building Safety Bill confirms the appointment of a new Building Safety Regulator that will regulate all residential buildings over 18m high with a consequential reduction of local authority building control and approved inspector powers.

The bill also sets out a new competence framework for anyone designing, building or inspecting a high-rise residential building and new rules to ensure buildings are regularly inspected and remain safe during occupation.

The inquiry is ongoing.