The Structural Timber Association has recently published an insurance industry guide to mass timber in the UK. The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with sufficient information to better understand the use of timber in construction from a risk management perspective.
This document has been broken down into six main sections: Management of structural timber projects, Risk management, Compliance, Structural timber and the built environment, Building Safety Bill 2020, STA technical document library. We’ll be covering each topic in turn on this website.
2. Risk management
The STA has long recognised the increased risks associated with the use of engineered timber solutions. Focus is predominantly around fire resilience and water ingress, both during construction and in use. The Association has committed its members to a quality, compliance and competency programme for many years to mitigate those risks and to engender a best practice culture.
The STA Assure programme pre-dates the Dame Judith Hackitt review undertaken by the Government following the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017. It responds well to the concerns expressed at the time in relation to the construction industry’s ability to confirm competency and compliance.
There are three key pillars of activity driving quality assurance within the membership of STA, which broadly align with the new Building a Safer Future, initiated by Dame Judith Hackitt and crafted by the Competence Steering Group 2020 of the Construction Industry Council (CIC):
- Site Safe policy
The Hackitt Review highlighted the need for the construction industry to rely on actual tested data in establishing the suitability of building products in use and not the use of extrapolated data often referred to as desktop studies. Responding to this, STA commissioned extensive product testing described in the compliance section of this paper.
STA Assure is the Association’s membership and quality standards scheme. Designed to benefit both clients and members, it offers reassurances by promoting the differing accreditations and quality standards held by individual STA member companies.
The scheme has received formal recognition from many of the industry’s leading structural warranty and building control bodies: LABC Warranty, Premier Guarantee, Protek Warranty, Build-Zone Warranty, Self-Build Zone Warranty and ABC+ Warranty – as well as the Health and Safety Executive, the National Fire Chief Council (NFCC) and CIREG.
STA Assure mandates members to follow the quality standards put in place by the scheme and offers technical support to enable them to do so:
- Adhere to the Site Safe scheme, ensuring timber construction is both safe and sustainable
- Undergo an independent audit of their quality standards
- Receive regular updates on the latest building regulations and legislation
- Gain access to dedicated technical support service, advice notes and technical documents
- Fully support sustainable construction, quality standards and adhere to our Code of Conduct
- Ensure all installers have met the requirements of STA Timber Frame Competency Award Scheme.
The STA now manages the Timber Frame Competency Award Scheme requirements alongside CITB. The training scheme improves timber frame erectors’ skill levels and acknowledges the competencies of existing timber frame erectors. It supports the achievement of gaining an SVQ or NVQ in Timber Frame Erection, allowing erector/installer companies to access sites that require CSCS cards.
The scheme sets industry-wide standards for erectors and installers of structural timber frames. As part of the STA Assure quality initiative, members are required to complete three workbooks and an online test to examine practical and theory-based knowledge, which takes up to one year to complete.
Site Safe policy
The award-winning Site Safe policy applies to all structural timber building system members, including manufacturers, fabricators, contractors and installers who work with principal contractors. Members are audited to ensure they are achieving the functional requirements of the Site Safe policy for sites under construction. Both the policy and the audit process have been developed over many years to support members; by following the policy they can engage with customers and assure the best project outcomes.
Included within members’ Site Safe obligations is a commitment to follow STA 16 Steps. Designed to mitigate the risk of fires during construction, it includes the registration of every STA member on-site construction project with the National Fire Chief Council (NFCC).
The programme is fully endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive and CIREG.
The Structural Timber Association’s insurance industry guide to mass timber in the UK can be downloaded here.