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What architects need to know about RIBA’s new Health and Safety Test 2024

Learn more about what’s in the test and the resources available to help members pass.

02 May 2024

This week (Thursday 2 May, 2024), RIBA relaunches its Health and Safety Test, specifically developed so that members can demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the RIBA Health and Safety Competency. The free online test will become mandatory for Chartered Members from 2025.

The test will help members to ensure they are safe on site and able to demonstrate that they are competent to design buildings that are safe to construct, inhabit, use and maintain.

The new test replaces the voluntary pilot test that has been available since 2021 and is updated to include new legislative duties introduced by the Building Safety Act and last year’s amendments to Building Regulations relating to design risk management.

RIBA competency requirements – Health and Safety is the first of three, with Climate Literacy and Ethical Practice to follow – will see members retaking mandatory tests every five years, but those who have successfully passed the Health and Safety Test within the last five years are not being asked to retake the updated test.

Read all of RIBA's articles on the Building Safety Act

The free Health and Safety test will become mandatory for Chartered Members from 2025. (Photo: iStock Photo)

What does the test cover?

The first half of the test covers personal safety on construction sites and other professional environments; the second covers the wider design processes, requiring an understanding of the principles that guide CDM regulations, the Building Safety Act, building safety design and design for fire safety:

  • Preparing to visit site
  • Undertaking site visits
  • Site hazards
  • Design risk management
  • Statute, Guidance, Competence and Codes of Conduct
  • CDM Regulations
  • The Building Safety Act & Building Safety Regulations
  • Building Safety Design
  • Principles of Fire Safety Design

RIBA published a health and life safety knowledge schedule in 2021 for the mandatory competence in health and life safety. The schedule summarises the overall content, including areas such as site hazards, design risk management and principles of fire safety design and will be reviewed as part of RIBA’s ongoing support of existing and new toolkits available to members.

Sarah Susman, Associate Director and building safety specialist PRP who supports the updated test questions, says architects should not be daunted by it.

“Most of the good practice safety principles are what architects are applying every day, whether or not they realise it,” she says. “There is nothing that is difficult to understand here. But RIBA competency requirements recognise that we need to be able to demonstrate to people that we understand them."

She strongly recommends RIBA’s Health and Safety Guide (Second Edition), authored by Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, which was always intended to be the companion guide for architects preparing for the RIBA Health and Safety Test (the test questions, for instance, actually follow the guide chapter by chapter).

With all that being said, members should purchase the new second edition, published in December 2023, because this covers changes enacted under the Building Safety Act 2022 and amended Building Regulations.

There is also a free video series by Dieter to help members prepare for the test, and members are urged to look out for further RIBA CPD currently in development.

The pass mark for the Health and Safety Test is 80% across the personal safety and design risk management sections and members receive their score immediately on completion. In the event you do not pass, the test can be retaken up to five times and you will receive feedback on the areas of further learning that may be helpful (based on the chapters of the guide book).

Purchase a copy of RIBA’s Health and Safety Guide (Second Edition)

The Hackitt inquiry that followed the Grenfell Tower fire highlighted the industry’s urgent need to raise standards of professional competence regarding building safety. (Photo: iStock Photo)

Raising standards when it comes to building safety

While RIBA had a longstanding ambition to establish a series of demonstrable competencies for the membership, the Hackitt inquiry that followed the Grenfell Tower fire highlighted the industry’s urgent need to raise standards of professional competence regarding building safety, and gave fresh impetus to RIBA’s own plans. It was decided to make building safety the priority among future mandatory competences for the membership.

“Dame Judith Hackitt was concerned with the lack of visible competency of all construction parties,” Sarah explains. “She believed that a fundamental culture change was needed across industry in its attitude to building and life safety.”

“RIBA’s mandating of this competence will reassure the public, clients and contractors that architects have the knowledge and understanding of health, life and fire safety that will keep themselves and others safe when buildings are being designed, constructed and occupied.”

Take RIBA’s relaunched Health and Safety Test.

Thanks to Sarah Susman, Associate Director, PRP.

Text by Neal Morris, and edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas

RIBA Core Curriculum topic: Legal, regulatory and statutory compliance.

As part of the flexible RIBA CPD programme, professional features count as microlearning. See further information on the updated RIBA CPD core curriculum and on fulfilling your CPD requirements as an RIBA Chartered Member.

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