The High Cost of Noncompliance

In a December 2020 sitting of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, Kingspan former head of technical Tony Millichap revealed that he was unaware that the insulation product installed on the building did not comply with safety regulations for tall buildings. The inquiry into the London fire has already found that insulation cladding made by Kingspan and a company called Celotex fuelled the devastating fire.

This might seem like an extreme example of the fallout that can result from noncompliance but, given that 72 people lost their lives in the blaze, it is a grim reminder of just what can happen when you don’t comply with regulations.

And insulation was not the only compliance-related factor in the blaze: The last fire risk assessment on Grenfell Tower before the 2017 fire highlighted several concerns about safety —including a specific warning that the tower’s fire doors had no “cold smoke seals,” which stop smoke leaking in through the edges of a fire door. These examples illustrate just how deadly noncompliance can be, but even if failure to comply with regulations does not result in loss of life, it can still be very costly.

An Expensive Oversight

At worst, failing to comply with regulations can result in death or serious injury. But even if the worst does not happen, the financial cost of noncompliance can be significant. You could face:

  • Fines
  • Reputational and brand damage
  • Legal claims
  • Insurance pay-outs denied because of out-of-date certification
  • Time and money wasted searching for compliance certificates
  • Earnings lost due to premises closure

Building Control Regulations & the Cost of Breaching Them

The introduction of S.I. No. 9/2014 – Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (generally referred to as BCAR) in March 2014 meant buildings were now subject to a new system of building control. It requires certificates and undertakings to be supplied before commencement by the designer, an Assigned Certifier (AC), and the builder. The AC and the builder must also provide a further certificate of compliance with the Building Regulations on completion.

It is an offence not to comply with BCAR, and there are substantial financial penalties. If you are found guilty of an offence under the Act you could face fines of up to €50,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years. You could also be disqualified from signing and submitting certificates of compliance.

Under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2015, the owner of works involving the construction of a single dwelling, on a single unit development, or of a home extension, may choose to opt out of the requirement to secure statutory certificates of compliance signed by a registered construction professional. They do so by submitting a new form of “Declaration of the Intention to Opt Out of Statutory Certification.” This is a very serious decision, and anyone considering it should consult their solicitor. Availing of these opt-out provisions could make it difficult to sell the building. It could also invalidate your insurance, so check the fine print.

Compliance with the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

Breaches of Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 have resulted in a series of successful lawsuits against employers. Not only do noncompliant employers face the expense of going to court and paying out on legal claims, they also suffer substantial erosion of trust in their brands. The outcomes of these cases are well publicised and do nothing to advance the reputation of any of the companies in question. In 2018 alone, the HSE reports 15 successful prosecutions brought under the 2005 Act against named firms and individuals involved primarily in construction and engineering, which had to pay fines of up to €200,000.

A Safe & Easy Route to Compliance

We have only just touched on some of the serious issues that you need to be aware of around compliance. You need to comply with a raft of regulations and legislation, and claiming ignorance is no defence. However, without a system to manage your compliance, you face hours tracking down and filing paperwork without any guarantee that you’ve done enough. The hours you spend trawling through sites looking for stray certificates would be better spent promoting your business — not to mention the prospect of having your premises shut down because of noncompliance.

There is a better way. With an integrated compliance solution for building services, you do all the testing, inspection, and certification as you go. There is no need to gather paperwork from every job, or return to sites to collect forgotten documents to complete your paperwork later on. Everything is time- and date-stamped, so you comply as you go.

You can rest assured that you are compliant — and get on with the work you do best. To find out more, contact us today, and we will show you the easy way to avoid noncompliance with our integrated compliance solution.