His new role is in addition to his former duties: he remains director of HSE’s building safety and construction division as well.
In effect, therefore, HSE’s existing construction division is morphing into the statutory Building Safety Regulator.
The selection of the man already in situ follows an executive search process run by Mayfair recruitment firm Green Park.
The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is a new division of the HSE set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, as recommended in the Building a Safer Future report by Dame Judith Hackitt. The BSR and its functions from part of the draft Building Safety Bill published in July 2020.
The BSR is headed by the new posted of chief inspector of buildings as “the face and voice of the new regulator”.
Peter Baker, a 30-year HSE veteran, has effectively been doing this job since 2015 when he switched from head of HSE’s chemicals, explosives & microbiological hazards division to chief inspector of construction. His job title has changed twice since then – director HSE building safety programme response and director building safety & construction – but he has been the top construction person at the HSE for nearly six years now.
In his role as the chief inspector of buildings, Peter Baker will head up the Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high risk buildings, oversee work to increase competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment. He will also be the first head of the building control profession and lead the work to provide advice to industry, government, landlords and residents on building safety.
His new directorate is expected to comprise more than 700 staff.
Peter Baker said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the first chief inspector of buildings and for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. I look forward to working with government, industry, partner regulators and residents to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”
HSE chair Sarah Newton said: “Peter has a long track record of working in partnership with industry and other regulators to bring about behavioural and culture change that improves people’s safety. His deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards and risk makes him ideally suited to shape and lead the implementation of the new building safety regime”
Dame Judith Hackitt, a former HSE chair who is now an independent adviser to government on building safety and chair of the transition board, said: “I am delighted to hear of Peter Baker’s appointment as the new chief inspector of buildings. With his impressive background experience in regulating both major hazards industries and construction he brings a wealth of experience to this important new role. I very much look forward to working with Peter as the new Building Safety Regulator is established as we move to establish a new regime where people can be confident that their homes are safe and fit for purpose.”