Paul Follows is a hugely experienced Consulting Structural Engineer, Forensic Specialist and Residential Refurbishment Designer who has taken a keen professional and personal interest in the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower and its aftermath. Earlier this week, he used his expertise to put together a comprehensive list of questions that need to be answered if the victims and survivors of Grenfell are to have anything approaching justice.
Follows has looked further into crucial documentation – some of which disappeared from host sites and had to be tracked down via archiving sites such as Wayback Machine – and has uncovered vital information that has led him to conclusions that may startle some. Here are his findings in his own words (emphasis by the SKWAWKBOX:
Grenfell Tower Tragedy is not about the Building Regulations
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations have been in force since 6 April 2007. These regulations legally require designers to determine risks and to eliminate them at design stage if at all viable.
Fire Safety specialists have been raising the alarm that a Grenfell Tower incident was inevitable since at least 1984. Several of them have spoken publicly about this in the press recently and have raised the issue in various forums across the industry and across decades.
The risks were known but not designed out. The inquest and the Police MUST recognise this breach of the law.
Any reasonably competent designer would know that flammable cladding must not be used as part of a compartmentalisation strategy. It has been known since at least 1984 that flammable cladding was being installed. It turns out on hundreds of UK Buildings.
Since April 2007 the designers have had a legal obligation to remove risks at design stage. There is therefore a legal responsibility on the Architect to specify cladding that removes the risk of breaching the compartments.
If the Architect produces a design that does not specify a specific adequate panel or does not produce a performance specification to that effect then they have not managed that known risk.
If someone changes the design or simply puts on flammable cladding then in law they have been deemed to have made a design decision and they would be considered a ‘designer’ within the CDM Regs.
The CDM Regulations are legal documents that put responsibility onto the designer which cannot be removed. The fact that it was well known in the industry that the use of flammable panels was commonplace in compartmentalisation designs proves that the problem does not lay in any weaknesses in the Building Regulations.
It appears that designers may have abused the Building Regs weaknesses in the belief that the Regs protect them from responsibility and ultimately manslaughter charges.
Since April 2007, when the CDM regulations were introduced, that has been a false belief.
‘Designer’ is not necessarily just the Architect. Depending on many factors it could be any party involved.
Panel testing in the last few days and hours has shown that this design negligence is widespread in well over a hundred buildings in England, across sectors and building types. In fact every design tested so far has failed.
The question is how can basic design negligence be so widespread? That just doesn’t happen where there are different clients, designers, Building Inspectors and Contractors.
So this cannot possibly be human error nor can it be naivety by the odd designer and as explained above it is not due to any weakness in the Building Regulations or other design regulations.
The inquest and police investigation must acknowledge these points and determine what corrupt activity has led to this endemic failure to design out the KNOWN risks in ALL of these buildings.
There has been systemic negligence by cladding ‘designers’ for over 30 years. Following the introduction of the CDM Regs in April 2007 they can no longer legally hide behind the excuse of ‘weak’ Building Regulations.
To date, I have not heard anyone at all mention CDM Regs, neither experts nor the media. CDM Regulations should be the cornerstone of the inquest and criminal investigation otherwise those investigations may well fail both the public and Grenfell survivors.
Details of CDM and Corporate Manslaughter can be found via the link below:
The facts that the dangers of cladding – in contrast to Theresa May’s lie to Parliament during PMQs this week – have been well understood for over thirty years – and of the existence of a clear legal responsibility on building ‘designers’ to ‘design out’ those dangers must be publicised and included in the criminal investigation, the public inquiry and in the inquest that survivors and families deserve and have not yet been guaranteed.
If those facts are not properly acknowledged and included, justice will not properly be served.
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