OSH system at national level - Belgium

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  IOM

Veronique De Broeck, Prevent, Belgium

Occupational safety and health legislative framework

Occupational safety and health (OSH) at work is covered by the “Law of 4 August 1996 on well-being of workers in the performance of their work” [1] and its royal decrees. The Law transposes into Belgian law the framework Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 [2] on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. The Law and its implementing royal decrees form together the “Code on Well-being at Work” (le Code sur le bien-être au travail) [3]. The Code applies to every employer who employs at least one worker. The law of 4 August 1996 applies to the private sector and the public services.

The Code has gradually replaced the previous Regulation for Labour protection (Règlement général pour la protection du travail – RGPT) [4], which was in force since 1947. While the RGPT legislation presented detailed and prescriptive articles, the Code on Well-being is based on the object-oriented new style of the framework directive.

The major characteristics of the legislation in the Code on Well-being at work are the emphasis on prevention and the broadening of the OSH concept to well-being at work. Well-being is defined as the ensemble of factors related to working conditions, including safety and health, psycho-social aspects, ergonomics, work hygiene, as well as improvement of the work places.

According to the legislation, each employer must operate a health and safety policy based on general principles (preventing risks, eliminating these at source or reducing these; with a preference to collective protective rather than individual measures; providing training and information for employees). This policy should be integrated into the company’s general management policy.

Each employer should have an internal service for prevention and protection at work [5]. The employer will however be required to use an external service for prevention and protection at work if the internal service cannot itself execute all assignments, such as the tasks with regard to occupational health surveillance (1).
An important aspect of these external services for prevention and protection is the multidisciplinary ‘prevention’ approach; the focus is mainly on risk assessment.

Main legislative acts:

  • Act of 4 August 1996 on well-being of workers in the performance of their work [6]
  • Royal Decree of 27 March 1998 on the the policy of well-being of workers at work [7]
  • Royal Decree of 28 May 2003 on the health surveillance of workers [8]
  • Royal Decree of 17 May 2007 concerning the prevention of psychosocial load caused by work, including violence, harassment and sexual harassment at work [9]
  • Royal Decree of 27 March 1998 concerning Internal Services for prevention and protection at work [10]
  • Royal Decree of 27 March 1998 on the external services for prevention and protection at work [11]
  • Royal Decree of 29 April 1999 on the authorisation of external services for technical inspections at the workplace [12]
  • Royal Decree of 3 May 1999 on the assignments and operation of the Committees for prevention and protection at work [13]

National strategy and programmes

The "National Strategy for Well-Being at Work 2016-2020" [14] replaces the former "National Strategy for Well-Being at Work 2008-2012". The strategy is based on the thorough consultation with the main stakeholders, especially the social partners, professional associations and other stakeholders in the platform of the High Council for Prevention and Protection at Work (Hoge Raad voor Preventie en Bescherming op het Werk). The strategy states Belgium’s commitment to comply and contribute to the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020. It features as its key objective to achieve an ongoing, sustainable and consistent reduction in accidents at work and occupational illnesses.

The strategy establishes objectives at national level and provides the basic planning for the accomplishment of these objectives. The main objectives are incorporated in the strategy, starting from four strategic axes and thirteen operational objectives. The four strategic objectives and operational objectives are:

  • Safe and healthy work
    • Continuous prevention of occupational accidents
    • Continuous prevention of health problems caused by work
    • Preventing or minimising new and emerging risks
  • Strengthening participation in the labour market
    • Sustainable work for all workers
    • The re-integration of disabled workers
  • Strengthening prevention
    • Stressing the employer’s responsibility for prevention policy, especially in SMEs
    • Integration of wellbeing at work in the company’s management
    • Optimising the functioning of prevention services
    • Optimisation of social dialogue
    • Optimising the functioning of the labour inspection services
    • Access to the available data on exposure
    • Qualitative regulations
  • Strengthening the prevention culture
    • The integration of wellbeing at work in all government domains

The High Council for Prevention and Protection at Work develops a specific action programme, in cooperation with the Directorates General for the Supervision of Wellbeing at Work and the Humanisation of Work. The action programm contains the following elements and is integrated in the "National Strategy for Well-Being at Work 2016-2020" [15]:

  • The description of the action;
  • The steps to be taken;
  • The stakeholders;
  • The proposed time frame;
  • The indicator that indicates whether the operational objective was achieved.

The former strategy was evaluated, the reports and special evaluations are online available. [16]

Social dialogue

Belgium has an elaborated system of social dialogue [17] at all levels (national, sectoral and company) and in the different socio-economic fields such as economic policy, social policy and occupational safety and health.

According to a Eurofound study on the Working Conditions and Social Dialogue in Belgium [18], national and sectoral social dialogue has made in Belgium important contributions to the improvement of working conditions. On the one hand, the national and sectoral social dialogue plays an important and positive role in the preparation of new OSH legislation in Belgium. This legislation is still the main regulative instrument of working conditions in Belgium. On the other hand, this national and sector social dialogue plays a complementary role to existing legal regulations. Bi-partite negotiated agreements exist on a range of OSH matters. Specific sectoral bodies are involved in campaigning for better working conditions and coaching companies to obtain better working conditions results and comply to a higher degree with the existing rules and regulations.

The social dialogue in the public sector is regulated by the Law of 19 December 1974 [19]. Social dialogue takes place in the negotiation and joint consultation committees, which are composed of government representatives and the representative trade union organizations.

Social dialogue at national level

Two consultative bodies play a key role in the social dialogue on OSH related aspects.

  • The social consultative body on an interprofessional level is the High Coucil for Prevention and Protection at Work (Conseil supérieur pour la prévention et la protection au travail/Hoge Raad voor preventie en bescherming op het werk)[20]. The social partners are represented equally in this Council. The Council advises the Minister of Work in the policy-forming process (with particular regard to working out all the relevant regulations).
  • In addition, there is the National Labour Council (Conseil National du Travail/Nationale Arbeidsraad [21], which is composed of the highest members of trade union and employers’ confederations. They negotiate national intersectoral collective agreements for the whole private economy.

The social partners include:

  • The Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (Verbond van Belgische Ondernemingen/Fédération des Entreprises de Belgique, VBO-FEB) [22] is the multi-sector employers' organisation representing companies in all three regions of Belgium. Its members, Belgium's leading sectoral federations, represent companies in key industrial and service sectors.
  • The intersectoral trade association UNIZO (Unie voor Zelfstandige Ondernemers)[23] is the largest Union for Independent Entrepreneurs. UNIZO organises within the Flemish region or the Dutch-speaking community self-employed and SMEs. The counterpart of UNIZO in the Walloon region or French-speaking community is the ‘’National Federation of Middle Classes’ Unions (Fédération Nationale des Unions des Classes Moyennes, UCM)‘’ [24].
  • Belgium has three trade union confederations recognised as representative organisations: the ACV-CSC [25] (Christian), the ABVV-FGTB [26] (Socialist), and the ACLVB-CGSLB [27] (Liberal). The trade unions are involved in the design of operational programmes and projects aimed at strengthening the rights of individual workers such as industrial strategies and educational/training programmes.

Social dialogue at sectoral level

There are the joint committees [28] at sectoral level. These are set up for all sectors with the intention of grouping together businesses undertaking similar activities and working out rules adapted to the working conditions.

There are sector-based OSH Committees in the construction, metal and chemical industries which comment and formulate recommendations on legislation.

Social dialogue at enterprise level

At corporate level, the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work [29] is the advisory body. This body is compulsory in enterprises with more than 50 employees. The Committee is set up on a joint basis. The employer appoints its representatives; the employees elect their delegates every four years. The prevention advisor attends the meetings of this committee. The powers of the Committee were established in the law on the well-being of employees and the implementing decision of 3 May 1999 [30]. The Committee mainly has an advisory and supervisory role. In the public services, the tasks of the Committee are performed by the Basic Consultation Committees.

There is also the trade union representative in the companies representing the employees who are members of a union. In the absence of a committee and union representation, the employer must directly consult workers about matters that concern the well-being at work.


OSH infrastructure

OSH infrastructure scheme

Figure 1: The OSH infrastructure in Belgium on an implementation level

Fig 1.png

Source: Prevent [31]

National competent bodies

OSH authorities and Inspection services

Federal jurisdiction
Occupational safety and health (OSH) is a matter within the competence of the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue [32]. The main executive agencies are the Directorate General for the Humanization of Work (DG Humanisation du travail – DGHT) and the Directorate General for the Control of the well-being at work (DG Contrôle du bien-être au travail). The Federal Public Service is the responsible administrative body led by the Federal Minister for Work.

DG Control of the Well-being at work [33] (inspection services)
The Directorate General for the Control of the Well-being at work is organized in three main Divisions: (1) a Division for Regional Control with 8 Regional Directorates, (2) a Division for chemical risks control with three directorates, one for the prevention of major accidents, one for control policies and one for industrial toxicology, and (3) a Division for knowledge management. It covers all topics as defined by the well-being at work law [34].

The task of the inspection services is to help reduce accidents and health problems in businesses and public services based on the regulations. They ensure that the rules are adhered to and have an advisory, preventive and repressive role. Another of its tasks is indicating all the loopholes in the legislation and helping the authorities to close these.

DG Humanization of work [35]
The Directorate General for the Control of the Well-being at work is organized in three Divisions: (1) a Division for the preparation of the legislation, (2) a Division for the promotion of the well-being at work and (3) a Division for social consultation.

The Division for the preparation of the legislation draws up the norms regarding well-being on the shop floor and interprets and evaluates these norms. It also deals with preparing these norms on a European and international level and the implementing of the European and international norms into Belgian law.

The Division of promoting well-being at work arranges for promotion and information regarding well-being at work on an international and Belgian level. It develops action programmes on the distribution and use of “good practices” and networks for exchanging information on well-being at work.

There are provincial committees for promoting work in each province with a view to reaching small businesses more effectively. They are tripartite committees comprising representatives of employers, employees and the administration of which the governors of the provinces are the president. They carry out regional information campaigns controlled by the DG Humanization of Work.

The Division for social consultation on well-being at work organizes social consultation among other things, on the level of norms regarding well-being at work. It also manages the procedures for recognition and approval of the external actors involved in well-being at work.

OSH services

Internal OSH services

The primary responsibility for working conditions in a company is borne by the employer, who is assisted by an interdisciplinary OSH department, with one or more prevention advisors [36]. Employers with fewer than 20 employees may assume this position themselves. The internal service for prevention and protection at work [37] must support the employer and its employees in carrying out a company level policy on well-being at work. This service must support the employer, the members of the hierarchical line and the employees in applying the rules on the well-being of employees. This is a question of first-line prevention with the emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach to the problems. The structure of the internal service is further defined in articles 34 to 37 of the Law of 4 August 1996 [38].

The employers are grouped together in four groups depending on the nature of the risk and the total number of employees:

  • Group A and B include the large to very large companies and / or businesses with a high to very high risk;
  • Group C includes employers with fewer than 200 employees that are not included in group A or B;
  • Group D includes employers with fewer than 20 employees and whereby the employers themselves assume the position of prevention advisor.

The division into groups (A to D) is important for ascertaining the basic tasks constantly carried out by the internal service for determining the supplementary training of the prevention advisor who may or may not be responsible for leading the internal service.

The tasks of the internal service consist of advice regarding:

  • Helping to identify hazards and giving advice on risk assessment, the global prevention plan and the annual action plan;
  • Taking part in the research into the causes of industrial accidents;
  • Giving advice on the various subjects regarding the code of conduct on well-being at work including working with third parties;
  • Giving advice on drawing up instructions, on information, welcoming and training employees;
  • Being available to the people in the company for dealing with all questions on applying the legislation;
  • Helping to apply the measures that are to be taken in case of serious and imminent danger, working out the internal emergency procedures and organizing first aid.

As well as the aforementioned tasks, the prevention advisors-occupational physicians have exclusive tasks including:

  • Studying the interaction between people and work and research into harmonization of both;
  • Ensuring health monitoring;
  • Supervising the organization of first aid and emergency help.


These tasks can be carried out by both the internal and an external service. Certain basic tasks must nevertheless always be carried out internally. In companies belonging to Group A or B, these tasks include:

  • collaborating on the identification of dangers; giving advice on the results arising from the observation of risks, and proposing measures; and giving advice and formulating proposals on the compilation, implementation and adjustment of the overall prevention plan and the annual action plan;
  • Contributing to and collaborating on the investigation of work pressure, the adaptation of technology and working conditions to human physiology and the prevention of excessive work-related physical and mental fatigue, and participating in the analysis of conditions attributable to work pressure and other psycho-social factors associated with work;
  • Giving advice on hygiene in the workplace, in particular with regard to the kitchens, canteens, changing rooms, sanitary installations, work and rest area seating and other facilities at the company which are intended for the workers;
  • Giving advice on the compilation of instructions regarding the use of tools, chemicals and carcinogenic substances and preparations and biological agents, collective and personal protective equipment; fire prevention; procedures in the event of serious and immediate danger;
  • Giving advice on the training of workers;
  • Making proposals on the reception, provision of guidance, information and training to and awareness-raising of the workers with regard to measures in connection with workers’ welfare during the performance of their work and the devising of campaign materials;
  • Giving advice on any topic, measure or means the use of which is being considered by the employer and which might have consequences for the workers’ welfare;
  • Participating in coordination, cooperation and the provision of information about workers’ welfare during the performance of their work, with regard to outside companies and self-employed workers, and collaborating on coordination, cooperation and the provision of information concerning safety and health with regard to companies that are present on the same worksite or with regard to temporary or mobile worksites;
  • Being available to the employer, line managers and workers to answer any questions that arise in connection with the application of the law;
  • Collaborating on the definition of the internal emergency procedures and the application of the measures with regard to serious and immediate danger;
  • Collaborating on the organisation of first aid and emergency care for workers who are victims of an accident or affected by illness;
  • Taking care of secretarial duties for the Committee.
  • Performing investigations in the workplace;
    • investigating workstations whenever a worker employed at that workstation is exposed to increased or new risks;
    • performing a thorough investigation of workplaces and workstations at least once a year;
    • performing research with a view to improving workers’ welfare;
    • performing analyses or inspections;
    • finding out about manufacturing processes, working methods and work processes, investigating them in situ and proposing measures to address the risks arising from them;
    • keeping the documentation up to date;
    • where urgently required, itself taking the necessary measures to remedy the causes of the danger or impediment.
  • In connection with the management and operation of the service, to ensure:
    • the compilation for employers in Groups A, B and C of the monthly reports, and for employers with fewer than 50 workers that do not belong to Group B, of the quarterly reports;
    • the compilation of the annual report;
    • the compilation of the work accident information cards or the completion of the work accident declaration form;
  • Compiling the documents for the purchase, use and maintenance of tools and personal protective equipment.
  • Keeping up to date the notifications that have to be submitted to the government.
  • Performing tasks in connection with the secretarial duties for the Committee.
  • Organising cooperation and ensuring coordination with the external service;
  • Collaborating with the external service in connection with the risk analysis and the implementation of preventive measures;
  • Collaborating on the definition of the procedures to be adopted in the event of serious and immediate danger and the organisation of first aid and urgent care.


In companies belonging to Group C, these tasks include:

  • Giving advice on hygiene in the workplace, in particular with regard to the kitchens, canteens, changing rooms, sanitary installations, work and rest area seating and other facilities at the company which are intended for the workers;
  • Being available to the employer, line managers and workers to answer any questions that arise in connection with the application of the law;
  • Taking care of secretarial duties for the Committee.
  • Performing investigations in the workplace;
    • investigating workstations whenever a worker employed at that workstation is exposed to increased or new risks;
    • performing a thorough investigation of workplaces and workstations at least once a year;
    • keeping the documentation up to date;
    • where urgently required, itself taking the necessary measures to remedy the causes of the danger or impediment.
  • In connection with the management and operation of the service, to ensure:
    • the compilation for employers in Groups A, B and C of the monthly reports, and for employers with fewer than 50 workers that do not belong to Group B, of the quarterly reports;
    • the compilation of the annual report;
    • the compilation of the work accident information cards or the completion of the work accident declaration form;
  • Compiling the documents for the purchase, use and maintenance of tools and personal protective equipment.
  • Keeping up to date the notifications that have to be submitted to the government.
  • Performing tasks in connection with the secretarial duties for the Committee.
  • Organising cooperation and ensuring coordination with the external service;
  • Collaborating with the external service in connection with the risk analysis and the implementation of preventive measures;
  • Collaborating on the definition of the procedures to be adopted in the event of serious and immediate danger and the organisation of first aid and urgent care.


If an employer has no department for health monitoring, the latter’s tasks are carried out by an external service.

The internal service for prevention and protection at work is responsible for the organisation of he collaboration with the external service, to ensure co-ordination and to collaborate with the external service during the examination of the workplace, the implementation of prevention measures and the development of procedures in the case of imminent danger, and the organisation of first-aid and emergency care.

For the public services, specific regulations apply for the structure of the internal service.

Occupational (external) OSH services

Article 40 of the law of 4 August 1996 on the well-being of the employees in carrying out their work provides for the setting up of external services for prevention and protection at work [39]. An external service may be established by employers, the State, the Communities, the Regions, the public institutions, the provinces and the municipalities. They are established in accordance with Belgian law in the form of a nonprofit organisation.
 An external service must gain accreditation from the Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue and must have a quality system certified to ISO 9001 standard.

The external services deliver complementary skills to the internal services. The external service consists of two departments, i.e., a department charged with multidisciplinary risk management and a department responsible for medical supervision. They are established in accordance with Belgian law in the form of a nonprofit organisation.


The “risk management” department is led by an engineer with an additional training level 1 (see Education, Training and Awareness raising). This level can be obtained after a successful occupational health and safety training course of 280 hours. The course is one of the additional certified training courses (in comparison to the basic training course). All additional certified training courses start with a multidisciplinary basic training course. Graduates of this course can than attend a specialisation programme, such as the Level 1 course.

The department includes the disciplines “industrial safety, industrial medicine, ergonomics, industrial hygiene and the psychosocial aspects of work”. The “medical supervision” department is led by an occupational physician and includes the care and administrative personnel necessary for the health supervision. The disciplines “industrial safety” and “industrial medicine” may not be covered by the same person.

An external service must in principle have at least two recognitions. One hand, there is a general recognition for the overall service by the Federal Government, in particular, the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. The recognition on the other hand comes from the department responsible for the medical supervision by the Flemish or French Community. The list of services recognized by the Federal Government is available on its website [40].

An external service applies a quality system that is certified in accordance with the norm NBN-EN-ISO 9001. It must possess a certificate issued by an accredited certificate-issuing institution in order to be able to carry out its tasks.

Employers enter into contracts with a recognized external service of their choice. Each external service sets the tariffs that apply to the employer affiliated to it for the tasks that this external service carries out and that appear in the contract concluded with this employer. The minimum tariffs as prescribed by the rules are respected in setting up these tariffs. There are five tariff groups defined according to the sector of activity.

Co-Prev [41] is the professional association of the External Prevention Services.

External service for technical control

In implementing article 40, paragraph 2 of the Law of 4 August 1996 regarding the well-being of employers in carrying out their work, there are external services recognized for technical controls at the workplace [42]. The employer is required to call on recognized institutions for certain technical operations. These are operations relating to electrical equipment, lifting and goods handling equipment, steam engines, gas containers, personal safety equipment etc.;

The external services for technical controls at the workplace should adopt the legal form of a non-profit organization (or similar legal form). The service should have the required technical personnel to fulfil the following conditions:

  • A good technical and professional training;
  • Receiving thorough training and additional instruction within the service;
  • Knowing the rules and having experience as far as supervision is concerned;
  • Being able to draw up reports.

The services are recognized by the Minister for Labour. The list of recognized services is available via its website [43].


Compensation and insurance bodies

Belgian Social Insurance for Occupational Risks Industrial accident insurance is in the hands of private insurers. This system is an important aspect of social security given that it is compulsory for each employer. Accident insurance is compulsory for employers in the private sectors, trainees and persons in apprentiship. Self-employed are exempted from the compulsory system. There exist special regulations for the public sector.

Most insurance institutions have set up a prevention service; its task is to stimulate the prevention of industrial accidents in affiliated businesses. The activities of these prevention services are threefold: Assisting in working out and applying a prevention policy in the affiliated businesses, study and analysis of industrial accidents, study and assessment of the risks, taking action in the areas of information, training and promotion aimed at employees and employers.

Assuralia [44] is the professional association of insurance companies and represents the Belgian and foreign insurance companies operating on the Belgian market.

The insurers are controlled by Fedris [45] (Federal Agency of professional risks), the former Accidents at Work Fund (Fonds des Accidents du Travail) . This is a public institution under the guardianship of the FPS Social Security and managed by a Management Committee composed of representatives from employers’ and employees’ organizations. Fedris is also concerned with the prevention of industrial accidents.

The remuneration of occupational illnesses is in the hands of Fedris [45] (Federal Agency of professional risks), the former Occupational Illness Fund (Fonds des Maladies Professionnelles) . This is a state-controlled institution managed by a management committee in which the social partners are represented. Fedris forms part of the social security, which means that employers are obliged to spend a certain percentage of the total wage sum on financing Fedris. Fedris is under the guardianship of the FPS Social Security [46].

Since january 2017, the former Occupational Illness Fund and the former Accidents at Work Fund were merged in a new institution called Fedris, the Federal Agency of professional risks.'

The insurance premiums are in relation to the compensation paid to the victims of industrial accidents that have taken place in recent years. The premiums are therefore related to the frequency of the accidents in the company.


Other OSH bodies

Prevention Institutes

Prevention institutes are targetting the same goal, namely the concern for the human capital in healthy and productive workplaces. The means, which they use are also similar, ranging from information and advice on publications and resources to training. The subject, scope and target audience may be different. The institutes can be public or private non-proft organized.


Constructiv [47]
Constructiv is a private service organisation for the construction industry. It is jointly managed by employers and construction workers. It provides information, advice and assistance on the prevention of occupational accidents and illnesses for employers and employees in this sector.

Prevent [48]
Prevent is a multidisciplinary and private institute, which promotes the quality of working conditions. The institute is active in research and supports, advises and informs companies and institutions as well as insurance companies, external prevention services, professional associations, the social partners, authorities and other stakeholders in society.

Provinciaal Veiligheidsinstituut Antwerpen (PVI) [49]
PVI is a public institution funded by the Province of Antwerp. The institute provides information and guidance concerning prevention, protection and well-being at work and in the private sphere.

Prevention & Interim (P&I) [50]

For the sector of the temporary employment agencies, a Central Prevention Service P&I (Service Central de Prévention pour le Secteur du Travail Intérimaire, Prévention et Interim) [50] has been created in 1998 by national collective agreement. It is jointly managed by the employers organization Federgon and the unions representing the employees in the sector of the temporary employment agencies. The goal of this non-profit OHS-service is to reduce the degree of working accidents in the sector by enhancing the amount of prevention campaigns and health and safety investigations in the sector.

Professional associations

Professional associations provide a network for their members; they defend the interests of the prevention advisors who are their members in discussions on regulatory measures and seek the professionalization of the profession. All functions of the prevention advisors as defined by the legislation on the internal and external prevention services are represented in corresponding professional associations.

Prevention advisor - Health and Safety at Work PreBes [51] and ARCoP [52] are the professional associations of prevention, respectively, for the Flemish and Walloon prevention advisors.

Prevention advisor - Occupational hygienist The Belgian Society for Occupational Hygiene (BSOH) [53] promotes the knowledge and the competences of the occupational hygienists through networking and exchange.

Prevention advisor - Ergonomist The Belgian Ergonomics Society (BES) [54] unites the ergonomists in a multi-disciplinary network to share knowledge, exchange experiences, encourage research and training, communication and cooperation. BES has a Dutch-and French-speaking section.

Prevention advisor - Occupational physicians The Belgian Association of Occupational Physicians (BBVAG) [55] promotes and defends the professional interests of its members.


Education, training and awareness raising

Legally required training for OSH specialists[56]

The Royal Decree of 17 May 2007 on the initial and vocational training of the prevention advisors of the internal and external prevention services [49] lays down the training conditions.

Basic training course for prevention advisors Article 21 of the Royal Decree on the Internal Prevention Services of 27 March 1998 [57] states that each prevention advisor must have sufficient knowledge to carry out his tasks. Article 23 of the Royal Decree on training of the prevention advisors of 17 May 2007 [58] states that prevention advisors who received an elementary and registered course of at least 40 hours are in line with the requirements of Article 21 of the Royal Decree on the Internal Prevention Services [59]. The training courses must be followed in an institute recognized by the Federal Public Service for Employment, Work and Social Dialogue [60].

Additional certified training courses Prevention advisors who are employed in companies of group A (very large companies and/or a high risk level) and B (large companies and/or an average risk level) need to follow an additional training course [61] [62] (see figure 2). The courses are structured in modules. There is a multidisciplinary basic module and a specialization module. The training can only be organized by recognized training institutes. Organizers of these courses must submit an application for recognition at the Directorate for Humanization of Labour at the Federal Public Services for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. Recognition is valid for 5 years. Each organizer must compose a steering committee with representatives of employers, employees, prevention advisors, course participants and representatives from other training institutes. The committee needs to formulate recommendations at least annually.

Multidisciplinary training course The basic multidisciplinary training module is common prior to all the specialization courses. This module includes 120 hours or approximately 1 day per week for 6 months. In the multidisciplinary basic module, the emphasis is on an overall, coherent, interdisciplinary and scientific risk approach. Communication and coaching are important issues. The basic knowledge and basic principles are presented and also a first introduction is given concerning the concept of well-being at work.

Specialization After the multidisciplinary basic module, a specialization can be obtained with regard to OSH in general (level 1 or level 2 ), psychosocial aspects, industrial hygiene or ergonomics.

Figure 2: Additional certified OSH training courses

Fig 2.png

Source: Prevent, 2012 [63]

Specialization training deepens and broadens the topics treated in the multidisciplinary basic module. The OSH specialization of the first level includes 280 hours or approximately 1 day per week for between one and one year and a half. The OSH specialization of level 2 includes 90 hours or a weekly training day over five months.

A prevention advisor who wants to follow the training courses of OSH level 1 needs to have a bachelor degree from a university or equivalent level institution. A prevention advisor working in an external prevention service needs to have an engineering degree. Before starting level 2, a certificate of higher secondary education is required. To attend the specialized training programmes in ergonomics, industrial hygiene or psychosocial aspects, a university master’s degree is required.

Other vocational training

Article 27 of the Royal Decree of 17 May 2007 [64] concerning the initial and vocational training stipulates that updating activities must be organized annually, including the new provisions concerning the legislation and scientific evolutions in the area. All institutes, which belong to the official OSH infrastructure organize seminars and information sessions for their members: the Government, the prevention institutes, the professional associations, the external services and the insurance companies. Also the social partners and sector federations inform their members on the changes in the legislation.

The calendar of the BeSWIC [65] website gives an overview of all seminars, information and training sessions.


Awareness raising networks

The Department for the Promotion of Well-being at Work of the Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue FPS coordinates the awareness raising activities, initiated by the DG for the Humanization of Work and the DG for the Control of well-being at work. They organize courses, conferences, seminars and information sessions at national level and decentralized through the provincial committees for promoting work.

The Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue FPS hosts the Focal Point of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work. The Focal Point coordinates and manages the national occupational health and safety network. All information is provided via the BeSWIC website.

BeSWIC (Belgian Safe Work Information Centre) is the Belgian knowledge centre on OSH. The website provides a digital platform for all OSH-related information free available for companies and organizations[66].


Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

Belgium does not run a national OSH research institute. Research in the field of health and safety at work is mainly carried out by the research groups at the universities. The Belgian DG for humanization of work runs a directorate DIRACT- DIOVA (Direction de la recherche sur l’amélioration des conditions de travail) [67], which is responsible for the coordination and promotion of research on the improvement of the working conditions.

Standardization bodies

The NBN – Bureau de Normalisation [68] is the Belgian organization responsible for the development and publication of standards in Belgium. NBN is a semi-governmental institution with juridical responsibility. The NBN represents Belgium at European level, as member of the European Standardization Committee (CEN) and at worldwide level as a member of the International Standardization Organization (ISO).


Institutions and organisations

Table 1: Main OSH institutions and organisations in Belgium
Key actors in the Belgian OSH dialogue Higher Council [65]
National Labour Coucil [66]
Key social partners in the Belgian OSH field Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (VBO-FEB) [67]
UNIZO [68]
UCM [69]
ACV-CSC [70]
ABVV-FGTB [71]
ACLVB-CGSLB [72]
Federal OSH Authorities and inspection services Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue [73]
DG Humanization of Work [74]
DG Control of the Well-being at work [75]
Key compensation and insurance bodies Federal Public Service Social Security [76]
Fedris, the Federal Agency of professional risks (merging of the former Occupational Illness Fund and the former Accidents at Work Fund [77]
Assuralia [78]
Key prevention institutes Constructiv [79]
Prevent [80]
Provinciaal Veiligheidsinstituut [81]
Prevention & Interim [82]
Key professional associations Prebes [83]
Arcop [84]
Belgian Society for Occupational Hygiene (BSOH) [85]
Belgian Ergonomics Society (BES) [86]
Belgian Association of Occupational Physicians (BBVAG) [87]
Key research institutes DIRACT-DIOVA [88]
Key standardisation body NBN [89]

Source: Summary table by Prevent, 2012 [69]


References

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