How Has The Cladding Industry Changed Post-Grenfell?

4 Cladding Service.

How The Cladding Industry Has Changed Post-Grenfell


In June 2017, a fire broke out and spread through a 24 storey tower block in north Kensington, west London. The fire at Grenfell tower claimed the lives of 72 people and injured a further 70. The fire was started by an electrical fault from a refrigerator on the fourth floor. But the more troubling revelations surrounded how the fire was able to spread. Investigations revealed the use of unsuitable flammable cladding allowed the fire to spread across the outside of the building.

In the wake of this disaster, changes to legislation at all levels have reformed the cladding industry. This guide will address the steps taken to prevent further incidents.

Building Regulations Review

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, the Department for Communities and Local Government published the terms of reference for an independent review of Fire Safety and Building Regulations. The review, led by former Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive Dame Judith Hackitt, set out to improve building regulations, particularly those surrounding high-rise tower blocks.

Hackitt’s report was published in 2018 and exposed regulatory problems, failings in practices, and accountability issues. The findings and recommendations from the report have heavily influenced the Building Safety Bill passed in 2022.

Legislative changes: Building Safety Act

The Building Safety Act 2022 was one the most significant legislative changes to come from the Grenfell fire and wider cladding crisis investigations. It actions many of the points highlighted in the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report (2018).

One of the core issues addressed in the 2018 report was difficulties surrounding accountability. The Building Safety Act looks to remedy this and hold those responsible for defective work accountable. Residents and homeowners have also been provided more rights, powers, and protections.

The act makes clear how buildings are to be constructed, maintained and made safe. And the new regulations are overseen by three new governing bodies; the Building Safety Regulator, the National Regulator of Construction Products and the New Homes Ombudsman.

New Industry Regulators

The new regulators introduced through the Building Safety Act each play a pivotal role in upholding the latest safety standards.

Building Safety Regulator

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are the new Building Safety Regulator.

Their new responsibilities and aims include:
Overseeing the safety and standards of all buildings
Improving the competence of building control professionals
Implementing the new high-rise building regulatory framework

National Regulator of Construction Products

The National Regulator of Construction Products is tasked with surveilling the market and enforcing the new standards.

They work to:

  • Spot and deal with safety concerns early
  • Removing unsafe products from the market
  • Take action against those that fail to comply with regulations

New Homes Ombudsman

The New Homes Ombudsman Service (NHOS) provides new build buyers with independent redress for issues with their home or developer. The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) have partnered with The Dispute Service Ltd to launch the NHOS in autumn 2022.

Combustibles Ban

Although Hackitt’s report did not recommend a ban on combustible materials, she stated she would support the government if they attempted to legislate a ban. Later in 2018, the government introduced a ban on combustible materials. It prohibited the use of flammable materials in and on exterior walls of some buildings over 18 metres, including new tower blocks, hospitals and student accommodation. Further amendments extended the ban to other properties such as hotels and hostels. The government also introduced provisions for fire safety in residential buildings between 11 and 18 metres in height.

Construction Products Labelling Issues

Another significant concern following Grenfell was the reliability of product labelling. At the time of the Grenfell refurbishment Fire Safety: Approved Document B stipulated that buildings of 18 meters should use insulation on limited combustibility, which it grades as class 0. The Celotex RS5000 insulation used on Grenfell Tower claimed Celotex had a grade 0 fire performance.

Despite the fire safety claims, it is apparent that the insulation did not meet the required safety standards. This raised concerns surrounding the trustworthiness of labelling on materials across the construction industry. Recent regulatory changes and the introduction of the National Regulator of Construction Products aim to resolve this.

Safety Critical Construction Products

New regulations look to remedy the issue of inaccurate labelling. The government are working to ensure all construction products on the UK market fall under a regulatory regime. The most important among these are products deemed “safety critical”. Safety critical is reserved for products that could cause serious injury or death if they fail. Products that do not meet safety critical criteria will still be required to meet general safety standards.

Safety Critical Manufacturer Assessments

Manufacturers must provide a declaration of performance for safety critical products. Furthermore, they must follow systems of assessment and verification of constancy of performance (AVCP).

Manufacturer Accountability

Where false or misleading claims about a product’s performance are made, in marketing material for example, the National Regulator of Construction Products and local Trading Standards will have the power to take action. Combined with the new powers given to residents through the Building Safety Act, this provides more comprehensive accountability across the industry. Though tighter restrictions should reduce incidents, where work quality is poor or products are unsafe, the responsible company will more easily be held liable.

Though many of the changes have a broad scope, many encompass and impact cladding. The legislative changes brought about as a result of Grenfell effects cladding manufacturing and installation and will significantly impact the industry.

Reliable Vacuum Lifting

The demand for trust and reliability within the cladding and wider construction industry has never been higher. That’s why at 4 Cladding Services, we only work with reliable vacuum lifting equipment brands such as GRABO. We provide first rate vacuum lifting solutions to empower your workforce to carry out heavy lifting tasks safely. We work to protect you and help you provide better installations to keep residents safe too.

Learn More About The Cladding Industry

At 4 Cladding Services, we strive to help construction businesses (among others) maintain a safe and effective work environment. In addition to our products and services we also have many more helpful guides.

Related Blogs

The Future of Cladding

Britians Cladding Crisis: What You Need to Know

Managing Risks In Cladding Removal