Understanding Building Safety Act competency requirements

BSA secondary legislation - a duty of care understanding your competency requirements

Following the Building Safety Act secondary legislation, the construction industry has a legal responsibility to drive positive change. If the Grenfell tragedy was a wake-up call, then the introduction of the ground-breaking Building Safety Act reforms should be viewed as a call-to-arms, ensuring everyone remains safe.

But what do the Building Safety Act competency requirements state?

If you’re searching for Building Safety Act guidance, we can help. Let’s take a look at the general competency requirements for all construction professionals, as well as the specific ones for principal contractors, the fallout of not complying with these demands, and why this should be viewed as the start of a new era for accelerating positive change across the sector.

What are the Building Safety Act competency requirements?

For those working in the industry, the Building Safety Act’s secondary legislation is a vital step change towards putting in place more stringent project oversight, making clear the competency requirements for all duty holders.

There’s no question that safety in construction environments must be continually prioritised. Even the most recent construction statistics from the Health & Safety Executive show 69,000 workers suffered from work-related ill health, and there were 45 fatal injuries to workers in 2022/2023. Furthermore, accidents such as falls from a height, being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, or struck by a falling object, continue to cause concern.

Moreover, from a legal perspective, it’s imperative that everyone understands their competency requirements for the Building Safety Act regulations.

When approaching the Building Safety Act competency requirements, it’s best to think of these in two halves:

  • General competence requirements for all construction professionals
  • Specific duty holder competence requirements

Let’s start by understanding the general competence requirements, before moving onto the competency requirements for the principal contractor duty holder role.

General competency requirements

Section 11F of the Building Safety Act secondary legislation introduces the general competence requirements for everyone in the industry.

Any individual carrying out either building or design work must have the necessary:

4 pillars of building safety act

How can professionals demonstrate competence?

Gain Professional Qualifications

Complete accredited training courses

Undertake relevant work experience

Meanwhile, any company must have the organisational capability to carry out:
  • Building work in accordance with all relevant requirements
  • Design work, so if the building work to which the design relates was undertaken, it would still be in accordance with all relevant requirements
Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘organisational capability’ is a fairly generic phrase. So, let’s dig a little deeper into just what this means.
Essentially, organisational capability refers to having the appropriate management policies, procedures, systems and resources in place to ensure you can meet the competency requirements. For instance, if you have individuals that are currently undertaking training to develop the necessary skills, knowledge, experience or behaviours that the Act demands, are they being appropriately supervised? How are you evidencing this? It’s these kinds of items that the Act requires you to demonstrate.
It’s also worth spending some time being clear what’s meant by ‘behaviours’, which section 11Q of the Building Safety Act secondary legislation covers in more detail. When considering this, however, it’s useful to cross-refer section 11Q with the competence framework for principal contractors, PAS 8672. This states:

‘Instead of behaviours appearing detached from the very act of work, they are an intrinsic part of it.’

There are four key ‘pillars’ to the behaviours the Building Safety Act secondary legislation is referring to:


Respect for life, the law, environment and public good


Honesty and integrity


Accuracy and rigour


Direction, conduct and communication

Learn how to demonstrate each of these behavioural pillars on page 26 of our first white paper, The Essential Guide to the Building Safety Act.

One example is cooperating with other stakeholders on the project in question. Indeed, everyone throughout the supply chain has a responsibility to share information and support other duty holders in achieving compliance. As a result, it’s worth considering how you’re currently evidencing this kind of behaviour.

One important point to be aware of is that showcasing the appropriate behaviours also extends to refusing to carry out work that’s beyond a person’s skillset, knowledge or experience.

Finally, section 11J encompasses a general competence requirement to ensure any building or design work is planned, managed and monitored to comply with all relevant demands.

Now, let’s tackle the specific competency requirements for the principal contractor duty holder role.

Principal designer requirements?

Learn all about the competency requirements for the principal designer role in our dedicated blog.

Principal contractor competency requirements

Similar to the general competency requirements, a principal contractor must have the following:

  • Skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours necessary for individuals, and
  • The organisational capability to fulfil the duties of a principal contractor in line with the Act’s regulations for building work

Where the principal contractor is not an individual, the company must designate an individual under the principal contractor’s control who will be tasked with managing its functions.

Detailed in PAS 8672, the competency requirements for principal contractors can be split into two halves, covering a core level of competence for:

  • All building work
  • Higher-risk buildings

All building work

Plan, manage and monitor the building work and understand the requirements of building regulations and other relevant legislation

Cooperate, communicate and coordinate your work with other duty holders

Liaise and, where necessary, work with all stakeholders who impact on the design, construction planning, construction and handover phases on matters affecting the lifetime safety and related quality assurance of the building work

Plan and coordinate the building work to allow time for delivery of a technically compliant and safe building, including the surrounding environment for the occupants

Use reliable and nationally recognized sources of industry information and standards in decision-making

Professionally lead and develop the competences of those under your control and provide encouragement and clear, proportionate guidance to the supply chain

Recognise the limit of your own competences and of those under your control

Determine when to engage with experts holding such specialist skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours and to assist them in demonstrating their compliance

Manage project budgets without compromising the safety of people in and around the building

Procure appropriately quality assured materials, products and building systems that are suitable for their intended purpose and remain safe for their anticipated lifetime

Manage and maintain all relevant information relating to the building, including records of work, inspections and tests to demonstrate compliance in accordance with appropriate codes of practice and guidelines

Manage the flow of information derived from the design and construction processes and maintain its passage to the Client or other duty holders and the Licensed Accountable Person

All building work

Contribute to the planning and development of the construction control plan, understand the drivers of compliance with the applicable building regulations and record evidence of that compliance

Liaise with other duty holders, including the Client and Principal Designer, and understand the regulatory obligations (including building regulations) in respect of signing-off key information, including the compliance of the “as-built” building

Coordinate matters and understand the drivers of compliance with regard to all those involved in the building work

Establish that all those working on the construction of higher-risk buildings, including contractors and building system providers, are aware of their duties and have the competence to carry out the construction activities for the safety of the building’s occupants

Maintain the construction control plan (which forms part of the golden thread of information) during the construction phase, detailing full and accurate records of all changes (including justifications) to the approved design

Establish an obligatory system for mandatory occurrence reporting on structural and fire safety, and other regulatory prescribed hazards, that enables the workforce to report potential occurrences which could cause a significant risk to life safety

Complete the construction control plan, sign-off the required documentation, including the compliance declaration, and contribute to the Fire and Emergency File

Contribute to an appropriate handover of information to the Accountable Person

How can Constructionline help?

Our BSA Radar tool and BSA question sets offer instant transparency and powerful insights for managing compliance and organisational competence. The result? You can source and monitor your suppliers with ease and confidence.

What happens if you don’t meet the Building Safety Act competency requirements?

Ultimately, the Building Safety Act secondary legislation is a legal requirement. If you don’t meet the competency requirements for your role, then you could potentially be held accountable. The repercussions include fines, sentences and significant damage to your brand’s reputation.

But more than this, the Act’s ambition is to build a safer future for everyone – both those building and designing these projects, and the public that uses these spaces. As such, while the legal fallout of non-compliance should be a fairly compelling motivator, we all have a duty of care to make sure we’re championing long-lasting change in the construction sector. To create meaningful and safer improvements to building practices, everyone throughout the supply chain should see it as their responsibility to drive positive action.

For instance, in your role as a principal contractor, you should be defining a procurement process that values openness and transparency, which proportionately assesses the competence of your supply chain. You should also consider what measures are in place to do your due diligence at the prequalification stage, when searching for the right project partner.

Only then can we build the foundations for a safer future.

Download our white paper on competency requirements to learn more.

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