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A ban on combustible cladding, recently announced by the UK’s housing secretary James Brokenshire, does not go far enough, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The ban will cover new high-rise residential buildings, hospitals, registered care homes and student accommodation, but the IOSH said that although it provides some clarity and simplification for the future built environment, it ought to apply to all new high-rises.

The IOSH previously called on the UK government to strengthen the system for building and fire safety in the wake of Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review, commissioned after the Grenfell Tower fire in London, UK.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said, “As was revealed in Dame Judith’s review findings, the UK system requires fundamental reform.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH

“Given that this will take significant time and the fact the public is very concerned about fire safety, banning the use of combustible materials on new high-rise residential buildings is a step in the right direction. It provides some clarity and simplification for the construction industry.”

However, he said it fell short, adding, “In cities and towns across the UK, many people live and also work in high-rise buildings. They all need to be protected. Therefore, the ban should cover all high-rise buildings, existing and new, and both residential and non-residential.”

The IOSH said the ban will be implemented through changes to building regulations, but it will not be applied retrospectively, where combustible materials have already been fitted. However, ministers have ordered that combustible panels are taken down as soon as possible where they are in place on tall buildings.

Saying that existing buildings clad in combustible materials should have improvement plans put in place, Jones added, “We also believe it is unacceptable to allow building work using newly-banned materials to start or continue, so the ban should apply to projects already underway.”

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