Industry culture is the biggest obstacle to implementing the ‘golden thread’

Industry culture is the biggest obstacle to implementing the ‘golden thread’ according to more than three-quarters of respondents to a CIOB survey.

The research, carried out by the CIOB and software company i3PT Certification, asked industry professionals about their understanding of the golden thread and how it will be delivered in practice.

The ‘golden thread’ was identified by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published after the Grenfell fire. She highlighted the need for "robust record keeping, with a digital ‘golden thread’ of key building information running through all phases of design, construction and occupation".

Some 82% of respondents picked culture as a ‘blocker’ to change, followed by commercial investment (52%), lack of repercussions (48%), unclear requirements (43%) and technology (32%).

Furthermore, more than half (54%) agreed with the statement, "the industry understands the need to change but the right culture is not in place to support it". Only 9% disagreed.

The consensus from the survey is it will take construction a long time to implement the changes necessary to deliver a golden thread of information on all high-risk projects. Only 7% of respondents thought it would take less than 12 months, while one in five said it would take between one and two years. Some 41% thought it would require two to five years and 23% said over five years. 

Encouragingly, 85% of survey respondents said the golden thread will “enable better decision-making and create a clearer chain of accountability across the built environment”.Initial analysis shows some 74% of respondents felt the draft bill did not go far enough, and that the golden thread should become law for all buildings, while a further 13% said it was ‘relevant’ to other sectors. Many were concerned about healthcare, care homes and schools.

The i3PT/CIOB survey gathered responses from 156 built environment professionals and organisations.

A full analysis will be published this month.Join the Building Safety Bill webinar at the Digital Construction Summit 2020 to hear more detail about the survey findings:

Image: 180171721 © Vitaly Sosnovskiy |

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  1. This is not a new problem, the HSE requested that the industry keep a full audit of design and construction sign off procedures and a record of change and responsibilities following the Heathrow Express Tunnel collapse in 1994. Then the lack of information available after the Scottish schools wall collapses in 2016 and again in 2017 and now the Grenfell Tower fire. The industry has failed to respond to these problems and requests from the HSE for over 26 years why should they change now?. Keeping an audit trail of project history through design and construction exposes the supply chain to the assignment of responsibility and the possible financial implications. ‘Heathrow Express Tunnel Collapses – October 1994 “the worst civil engineering disaster in the UK in the last quarter century”, “Such accidents must be prevented through effective risk management – industry cannot simply rely on good fortune”, Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’. ‘Contractor fined £1,200,000, Tunnel Monitoring Engineers fined £500,000, Legal costs £200,000’.

  2. Hyperbole and generalisation always a good headline but doesn’t address the deeper issues. Culture is a global term and its easy to avoid the personal responsibility. What drives culture? wish digital transformation was the silver bullet for our industry’s ills but sadly it isn’t. Our industry is hopelessly unregulated and fragmented. There are too many in senior and middle weight positions fighting to maintain their little fiefdoms and small agendas. Too many vested interests that resist change. Classic resistance to innovation! We need structural change, in an industry that historically is highly competitive, low margins if any, and in a depression always leads to race to the bottom and a dogfight for survival. No better place to start than the Farmer review. The ten year window is ticking down….

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