The Golden Thread: What it Means & How to Achieve it

16 May 2024

Since the Grenfell Tower Fire, the ‘Golden Thread of Information’ is more prominent than ever before. This blog delves into what the ‘Golden Thread’ entails. It also explains what the recent updates to guidance mean for accountable people and the wider fire safety industry.

What is the Golden Thread?

This phrase refers to the record-keeping involved in maintaining the safety of a property and the fire safety measures within it. The metaphorical thread symbolises the seamless flow of critical information. This spans throughout the lifecycle of a structure. It ensures that every decision, from design to occupancy, is guided by a comprehensive understanding of fire safety principles. 

Its main purpose is to help the accountable person comply with legal duties and manage overall building safety. However, more recent guidance details more about how these records should be kept. 

Which Properties Fall Under This Guidance?

The guidance states that it is directed at those responsible for ‘higher-risk’ buildings. But what does this mean? The government’s criteria for this category of property is:

  • 7 storeys or over 18 metres tall
  • OR including 2 or more residential units
  • OR A hospital or care home

What Does This Guidance Entail?

Digital Record-Keeping

The main feature of this update is that records must now be kept digitally. Fire safety is a collaborative effort, so access to key information across your team is vital for efficiency and informed decision-making. Although modern fire safety software and digital record-keeping tools are more popular than ever throughout the industry, some prefer to use paper-based methods. However, these can leave your valuable records vulnerable to loss or damage.

Digital record-keeping also means that information can be easily viewed and shared within your team and beyond. The updated guidance details who, upon request, information must be shared with. This includes the Building Safety Regulator, other accountable people and residents of the building.

However, digital record-keeping also has its own unique challenges. The guidance also states that any records need to be kept in a way that is ‘safe from unauthorised access’ and in line with GDPR laws. 

Responsibilities Around Design & Construction

The Golden Thread starts at the beginning of the lifespan of a property: the design and construction. Therefore, guidance includes what is expected of those in charge during this phase. These include the client, principal designer and principal contractor. 

The purpose of these instructions is to ensure that everyone working on the design and construction process is fully aware of how the building will comply with regulations. This means sharing documents like compliance statements, plans and a fire & emergency file with all designers and contractors involved. This compounds the need for a suitable digital record-keeping system with features like access controls and data security. A more detailed version of these regulations can be found on the government website.

Responsibilities During Occupation

Upon completion and occupation, responsibility shifts to the ‘accountable person’. They are responsible for maintaining the digital record-keeping system. This also means ensuring records are updated as needed and shared when requested. 

There are a variety of documents that make up this part of the Golden Thread. But the key documents are the health and safety file, the resident’s engagement strategy and the mandatory occurrence reporting system. This information helps you comply with fire safety regulations. But, it also forms the basis of any risk assessments, fire strategies and safety case reports you complete in the future.

The Golden Thread of information represents more than just a metaphorical construct. It embodies the essence of fire safety in the built environment. It serves as a lifeline, connecting stakeholders across the phases of a building’s life cycle. It also fosters a culture of awareness and accountability. By promoting a shared understanding of fire safety principles among stakeholders, it empowers each stakeholder to fulfil their respective roles in safeguarding lives and property.

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