2. The importance of assessing building safety risks

Assessing building safety risks: what can go wrong

Assessing building safety risks helps you work out what to do to keep people safe when the building is occupied.

Spread of fire and structural failure

The building safety risks defined in the Building Safety Act are spread of fire and structural failure. The causes and consequences of these will vary from building to building.

Different building areas

Think about the different areas of your building. Consider the different fire hazards in an individual flat, compared to those in a common area such as a hall, a community room, or a plant room.

Building lifecycle

Ongoing risks during occupation will differ from those that can occur in a newly constructed building. Risks can change over time, and refurbishing your building can affect its risk profile. This means there's an ongoing need to manage your building's safety risks.

Scenario planning

Consider what could happen in different scenarios. For example:

  • what would happen if certain preventative or protective measures failed?
  • what if your assumptions about structural stability are flawed?
  • how might a building safety incident happen? And how could it escalate? For example:
    • how might a fire spread from the compartment where it started?
    • what could the impact be on residents and the building?

You should include worst-case scenarios. This approach may differ from your previous risk assessments. Typical safety risk scenarios in high-rise residential buildings covers this in more detail.

Assessing building safety risks: the benefits

Identifying how safety incidents can happen in your building will help you identify the measures you have in place to prevent incidents or reduce their severity. These measures are also called ‘layers of protection'. You may also be able to identify other reasonable steps to reduce the risk further.

A thorough assessment will help to demonstrate you understand the risks and manage them effectively. It will also contribute to your building's safety case report.

Updated 2022-06-22