The Health and Safety Executive has appointed Peter Baker to become England’s chief inspector of buildings and lead the new Building Safety Regulator being set up following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Baker, who has worked for HSE for more than 30 years and was previously its director of building safety and construction, will take on his new role with “immediate effect”, the executive said.
The Building Safety Regulator will deliver the government’s new regime for high-risk buildings, oversee work to increase the competence of professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the wider building safety environment.
Baker will also be the first head of the building control profession and lead work to provide independent, expert advice on building safety to industry, government, landlords and residents.
The HSE, which is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, began recruiting for the chief inspector of buildings/Building Safety Regulator head last autumn. Advertisements offered up to £140,000 a year for the role, which will be supported by a staff of more than 700.
Creating a new regulator to oversee building safety was one of Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations in her report on building regulation and fire safety, conducted in the months following 2017’s fire at Grenfell, which claimed 72 lives. The public inquiry into the tragedy is still taking evidence.
Hackitt, who is the government’s independent adviser on building safety and a former HSE chair, said Baker had an “impressive background” in regulating both major hazards industries and construction.
“He brings a wealth of experience to this important new role,” she said. “I very much look forward to working with Peter as the new Building Safety Regulator is established as we move to establish a new regime where people can be confident that their homes are safe and fit for purpose.”
HSE chair Sarah Newton said Baker had a “long track record” of working with industry and other regulators to bring about behavioural and culture change that made people safer.
“His deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards and risk makes him ideally suited to shape and lead the implementation of the new building safety regime,” she said.
Baker said he was “honoured” to have the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation.
“I look forward to working with government, industry, partner regulators and residents to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of,” he said.
The Building Safety Regulator and its functions form part of the draft building safety bill, which was published in July 2020 with the aim of implementing the biggest change to building safety for 40 years.
HSE is leading work to design, develop and deliver the regulator’s functions on behalf of government in collaboration with the construction industry, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, local authorities, fire and rescue services and other stakeholders.