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The implications of Grenfell Tower

The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower inferno has massive implications across the UK construction industry and beyond, sending out a shockwave among those involved in building projects featuring cladding.The fact that tower blocks in so many parts of the country have failed tests in the wake of the Grenfell Tower shows that local authorities and other parties involved are potentially exposed to this serious issue.Going forward, construction companies should make sure that fire safety requirements are considered at the very start of each project, bearing in mind the various ways in which fire can spread through a building.Close examination of the classification of the combustibility of materials used is essential, and industry experts recommend that cladding is fire resistant or incombustible, rather than simply fire retardant.Insurers in the professional indemnity market, who have traditionally asked for higher premiums from those involved in cladding work due to the higher risks involved, will be even less likely to accept the risks following the tragedy.We are already seeing PI Insurers being more rigorous with their questions to those in the construction sector, reducing market appetite and in some case premiums rising.Cladding specialists and main building contractors will not be the only ones affected. Any trades involved in the design, construction or refurbishment of cladding of tall buildings over 18 metres in height can expect premiums to rise.However, we expect existing customers to continue to be covered, albeit following detailed dialogue with your insurer to ensure risks are assessed and mitigated.We strongly recommend a thorough review of any activities involved in the cladding of tall buildings – again, not just for construction companies but all parties involved; this is to ensure you are aware of the products use, their correct labelling, the role undertaken in their specification or installation and any resulting liabilities. If something similar to the Grenfell Tower tragedy happens elsewhere, it is possible that any number of parties may be held accountable.Dialogue with your insurer is vitally important, not only for previous projects but also going forward to ensure future works are compliant. The risk of not notifying an insurer of a problem, or of failing to adequately deal with this issue, is that your insurers may refuse to provide cover. It’s certainly not a risk worth taking, either for your business or with regards to the potentially tragic consequences.