CIOB & RIBA publish guide on high-risk elements of buildings

CIOB and RIBA have jointly published a free guide to managing Safety-Critical Elements (SCEs) in building construction

Press Office

Last updated: 31st March 2023

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have jointly published a free guide to managing Safety-Critical Elements (SCEs) in building construction, for their members and the wider built environment sector.

The Guide to Managing Safety-Critical Elements in Building Construction helps to identify high-risk elements in and around buildings. It outlines systems that should be adopted to ensure that SCEs are properly incorporated and will serve as an important tool to ensure good practice and deliver safe, high-quality buildings.

The joint guide recognises the cross-industry need for a rigorous and structured approach to the design, construction and inspection of safety-critical building elements. 

The guide highlights elements that, if omitted or installed incorrectly, can pose significant risk to people in and around buildings, including:

  • Safe means of escape for occupants and access for firefighters
  • Combustibility of cladding and insulating materials 
  • Effective fire compartmentation including smoke control, firestopping, cavity-barriers and fire doors 
  • Structural integrity of masonry cladding panels and the proper incorporation of necessary brick accessories into them including fixings, bed-joint reinforcement, wind posts and ties 
  • Structural integrity of balconies

CIOB past President Paul Nash, who chaired the Safety-Critical Elements working group, said: “At its heart, this guide is about ensuring that the buildings we create are safe for those who use them. That means ensuring every element that goes into a building is designed and installed correctly and this is independently verified before a building is occupied. The guide is another step towards creating a safer built environment.”

Former President of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) and current member of RIBA's Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety Professor John Cole CBE said: “This guide is a spur to the industry. We have seen much evidence showing how poorly Safety-Critical Elements have been installed in too many buildings. We all have to stand up, be serious and take appropriate responsibility. We want to push the industry to ensure that, on every project, all SCEs that could potentially impact the safety of future building users are properly designed, installed and inspected, with supporting evidence of compliance.”

Download the Guide to Managing Safety-Critical Elements in Building Construction here.