Written by Harrison Briggs
Compliance is difficult to define and manage effectively, none more so than in the built environment. At a recent BIFM Leaders Forum around the topic of Hard FM compliance, sponsored by Churchill Service Solutions, there were numerous definitions being proposed by guests – clearly, this is an industry issue that warrants ongoing discussion. Looking around at other sectors for inspiration, we realised that one area which is heavily regulated – the car industry – has a simple and easy answer to what is an equally-complex problem: the MOT.
Everyone knows they need an MOT if they drive a car on the road. There’s a simple system in place to check if you’re compliant. Some people deliberately choose not to be compliant and drive for a few days or weeks without an MOT but only 2% have driven their vehicle for more than six months after the MOT expired . We are generally compliant when it comes to getting our MOT and that’s because the risks are clearly explained: a £1,000 fine, invalid car insurance, six to eight penalty points and being liable for any costs in an accident. Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is well communicated to motorists in a number of different ways and through different channels. MOTs cost a maximum of £54.85 (unless remedial work is required) making them accessible to everyone. Compliance made easy.
But that’s not the same in our sector. There’s no MOT for a building. There are even more rules to ensure a building is legally compliant compared to a car, but there is no MOT tick-sheet, no easy way for a building owner or occupier to be completely confident that they are legally-compliant. And that’s why, buildings often fall far short of being compliant.
Many car drivers don’t have much of a clue about what goes on under their car’s bonnet, after where to put the oil and water. But that doesn’t matter. The car mechanic knows and the driver trusts them to know. Yet when it comes to buildings, we expect clients to know what they should be tendering for when it comes to building compliance. You’d never expect a driver to ask the car mechanic to ensure that the fuel system is free from leaks and the exhaust emissions are within specific guidelines. So why do we ask the building owner/ occupier for their definition of compliance?
An industry consensus on what a building MOT entails will naturally take time to develop, but what about today? As a statutory obligation, compliance is something that simply cannot be neglected – it’s within everyone’s interest to get their ‘house’ in check as the consequences could be too severe for those who don’t. Clearly, then, a transparent solution for managing building compliance is needed while the industry begins to grapple with standardising its approach.
As you may already be aware, Churchill Compliance launched its first digital service product ‘CATI’ this week. Watch the launch video here!