Insulation maker Kingspan makes governance reforms after Grenfell fire criticism

DUBLIN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Irish insulation maker Kingspan announced governance and staff changes on Friday to tackle what it called unacceptable employee conduct and historical process shortcomings following an enquiry into the 2017 fire at London’s Grenfell Tower.

Kingspan said it had no role in the design of the cladding system the enquiry found was the main factor in the unstoppable spread of the fire that killed 72 people in the 23-storey social housing block, the UK’s deadliest in a residential building since World War Two.

However one of Kingspan’s products constituted around 5% of the insulation used on Grenfell Tower in a system that was not compliant with building regulations.

The public hearings about the fire also heard evidence of Kingspan staff at its UK insulation boards business joking over text message about safety standards a year before the blaze, behaviours the Irish company said on Friday have rightly been criticised.

Kingspan said it had strengthened its approach to product safety through management and governance reforms, including changes to divisional and senior management in the UK division and the recent appointment of a group head of compliance and certification.

The company said it had also introduced new accreditation protocols and fire testing in the UK, as well as a new code of conduct for all staff.

“Our aims are clear: to reassure that safety takes precedence over all other considerations and to ensure this can never happen again,” Kingspan Chief Executive Gene Murtagh said in the group’s full year results, reiterating Kingspan’s apology for the shortcomings.

Kingspan said that its trading profit rose 2% to 508 million euros last year, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and said 2021 had started well. Its shares were 9% higher at 62.5 euros at 1150 GMT. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin. Editing by Jane Merriman)