The National House-Building Council (NHBC) has launched a health and safety Competent Person scheme to help builders and tradesmen access health and safety advice and comply with government legislation.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, every business must provide for access to health and safety advice, and must have someone appointed as a Competent Person to help compliance with health and safety duties and legislation. This person can either be an employee, or an external consultant.

NHBC las launched its new initiative to help small- and medium-sized builders, as this sector of the industry has been particularly badly hit by the economic downturn.

Builders can now appoint NHBC as their Competent Person and they will, in turn, be provided with advice, support, and expert help to develop their health and safety policies and procedures. This will assist them in meeting health and safety legislation. This service would normally be contracted on a one- or two-year basis, with the opportunity to renew at the end of this period.

The Council is also offering this scheme on a pay-as-you-go basis, where payments are spread over the period of the agreement to help the cash-flow of smaller builders.

Tom Kitchen, operations manager of NHBC’s Health & Safety Services, said: "The response to this has been very encouraging. From the moment we started talking to builders about this, it became clear that our assistance is both welcomed and needed. With the complexity of health and safety legislation, and its current state of change, smaller builders risk inadvertent non-compliance, and are looking for someone they can rely on."

Builders also need to be able to demonstrate their commitment to health and safety, and show they have the mechanism to meet legislation. To this end, customers of this service will be provided with an annual certificate and a 'Competent Person' logo to display.