Why it’s now time to start using the third version of the built environment competence standard

In April 2021 we published the third and final version of the BSI Flex standard giving recommendations for building safety competence core criteria. This blog post explains why it’s now time for the industry to start using this document in earnest.  


Everyone in the built environment sector should by now be familiar with Dame Judith Hackitt’s review Building a Safer Future. A major lesson drawn by her was that the industry needed to agree and enforce competence requirements in regulation for those responsible for the safety of higher risk buildings.


In response, BSI working with the MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), initiated a Built Environment Competence Standards (BECS) programme to help with the delivery of the regulatory policy that will be set out in the forthcoming Building Safety Act. The plan is to produce four standards in total: one on competence criteria for building safety, and three on specific roles that will be invoked in the legislation[1]. Our programme of new standards is also designed to enable a large-scale industry-led initiative to raise standards of competency across the sector.


BSI Flex 8670 was developed in conjunction with industry experts, and the first milestone of their collaboration is the standard on competence criteria for everyone working on a building. After two rounds of public consultations, its third and final iteration has now been published as: BSI Flex 8670: v3.0 2021-04 Built environment – Core criteria for building safety in competence frameworks – Code of practice.


Core criteria for building safety competence

What does BSI Flex 8670 v3.0 do? Well, it sets the core criteria for building safety competence - including fire safety, structural safety and public health - for all individuals working in the built environment. Its purpose is to improve safety outcomes throughout the building life cycle. In addition, this standard will support the progressive development of a more consistent approach to the use of competence frameworks across the industry.

As noted above, this is the final iteration of BSI Flex 8670. Users of this standard are strongly encouraged to adopt it. This includes anyone responsible for the development, maintenance or application of sector-specific competence frameworks for roles, functions, activities or tasks that are critical to and directly influence safety in and around buildings.

Later in the year, BSI will review feedback on its use. This will be used to inform the evolution of BSI Flex 8670 v3.0 into a full British Standard; BS 8670, set for publication in 2022.


Reasons for use

As to why you should adopt the Flex standard, there are several very good reasons. Foremost among them is that, quite simply, it will help to improve standards of competence and therefore building safety for residents and also for a building’s workforce, including emergency responders.

In addition, by establishing agreed core principles, terminology and requirements on competence, the standard will make it easier for different parts of the built environment industry to work together. It will provide a shared understanding of roles along the delivery supply chain. The standard’s use will also help raise the quality of work, the behaviour and the culture of individuals working in the built environment.

Last but not least, the standard will also prove useful for those who want to capture pertinent information related to competency as part of the golden thread of information required for the lifespan of a building.


[1] Building Safety Manager, Principal Designer, Principal Contractor