OSH system at national level - Netherlands

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  IOM

Jan Harmen Kwantes, Wendela Hooftman, TNO, The Netherlands

Occupational safety and health legislative framework in the Netherlands

The Dutch occupational safety and health legislation started in 1874 with the first law against child labor, which forbade children until the age of 12 to work in factories [1],[2]. This was followed in 1889 by the first Labor Act (Arbeidswet) and in 1895 by the first ‘Safety Act’ (Veiligheidswet). These acts were adapted several times, and in the last decennia of the 20th century they were replaced by the first Working Conditions Act (1980) and the First Labor Time Act (1996). In 1994 the Working Conditions Act was changed in order to comply to European legislation. The latest major changes in the Working Conditions Act date from the first of July 2017.

While the Labor Act and the Safety Act provided exact rules and regulations, the Working Conditions Act [3] is more goal oriented and puts more emphasis on the responsibility of employers and employees. The law states the objectives and the framework, but how to reach these objectives is not concretely defined. In the process of reaching these objectives and shaping the health and safety policy, a particularly large role is played by the social sector partners. For employers there are strong financial incentives for avoiding negative effects of working (for instance having to pay workers while on sick leave during two years).

The Dutch health and safety policy focuses not only on industrial accidents and occupational diseases (risque professionnel), but illness and absenteeism of workers in general (risque sociale). The employer must provide a safe workplace, identify possible hazards and risks, take action where needed and inform employees about the risks and prevention. Furthermore employers are obliged to report accidents and seek advice from occupational health experts on the risk inventory and assessment. Employees must contribute to the health and safety policy, use the issued protective equipment and report dangerous or risky situations to their employer.

Currently the main Dutch regulations regarding working conditions are [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

  • The Working Conditions Act[3]. General provisions for employers and employees on how to deal with occupational safety and health, for example to have a written OSH-policy and a risk inventory. The Act gives certain powers to the Labour Inspectorate (nowadays called: Inspection SZW), for example to force the employer to stop the work.
  • The Working Conditions Decree[5]. This Decree covers a wide range of specific occupational health and safety topics, such as provisions on work places, dangerous substances, noise, vibrations etc.
  • The Working Conditions Regulation [6]. Very specific provisions which are changing relatively fast. For example the occupational exposure limit for dangerous substances.
  • Major Accidents Legislation[7]. The Major Accidents Decree and Regulation deal with legislation in the field of Major Accidents related to dangerous substances.

Some typical elements in the Dutch occupational safety and health legislation:

The employer is obliged to contract an occupational safety and health service or an occupational physician. The OSH-service or the occupational physician has to perform five tasks for the employer:

  1. Assisting employees who are not able to work because of illness;
  2. Reviewing the risk assessment and evaluation;
  3. Conduction the periodic occupational health examination;
  4. Conduction the pre-employment medical examination.
  5. Consulting the occupational physician regarding occupational health issues (since 1-7-2017)

Especially task number 1 is important. Because in the Netherlands the social security system obliges the employer to pay at least 70% of the salary of the employee who has fallen ill. So, it’s very costly for an employer not to pay attention to the assistance of sick employees by an OSH-service or an occupational physician.

The OSH-service or the occupational physicians in the Netherlands are external organisations/specialists mostly. The Dutch employers are obliged to designate an internal employee with some knowledge of OSH as well. This person is called a prevention worker. This prevention worker has to assist the employer with the risk assessment and evaluation, and also assist the work council and the OSH-professionals with OSH related matters. Since the first of July 2017 the employer has the obligation the have a more extended service-contract with the OSH-service or the occupational physician in order to pay more attention to prevention within the company.

It is sometimes difficult, especially for small and medium sized enterprises, to find proper solutions and ideas for OSH-problems. In the Netherlands many branches have made so-called OSH-catalogues; in these OSH-catalogues one can find branche-made solutions. These solutions are approved by the Labour Inspectorate (Inspectorate SZW).

National strategy and programs

The Government of the Netherlands does not have one explicit policy document on occupational safety and health. Of course close cooperation with social partners does exist on national level, especially within the Social-Economic Council (SER) in the Netherlands. In June 2016 the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment published a document, which is called: "Dutch vision and strategy for occupational safety and health". The vision, goals and strategic actions that contribute to safety and health in the workplace are discussed in this document.


In the last decade several national programs have been executed. Although the different initiatives focused on different topics, these programs must all be seen in the light of the continuing vision of the Dutch government to strive for less legal provisions and to reduce the costs of administrative tasks. The idea is that this will lead to more space for initiatives of individual companies or sectors. The common denominator therefore is to stimulate these initiatives.

Current strategy and programs

In March 2012 the state Secretary of Social affairs and employment announced that the free market course set in earlier, i.e. a strong role for social partners and focusing on monitoring, is successful and will be continued based on the following principles: more faith in citizens and companies, primary responsibility for employers and employees regarding healthy and safe work, and government restraint [8]. This means that the government will set more "mandatory target provisions" (doelvoorschriften, i.e. statutory standards for OSH) and will reduce the number of "mandatory means provisions" (middelvoorschriften, i.e. government rules concerning working procedures). In december 2012 this strategy was advocated by the Social Economic Council (SER) [9], who furthermore urged the Government to disseminate the Dutch OSH regulatory model in the European Union. In April 2013 the Dutch government gave a reaction on this advice of the SER[10]

  • The Social Program Working conditions (Maatschappelijk programma Arbeidsomstandigheden (MAPA) 2010-current). The MAPA program aims at carrying out prevention related activities that contribute to a sustainable, healthy, safe and vital working life. It bridges the gap between research and every day practice, while consulting social partners on the relevance of activities. Unlike many subsidies the program is demand driven instead of expert driven. The MAPA program is implemented by TNO, a major independent research organization in the Netherlands. The MAPA program addresses several topics: the Netherlands Focal Point, the development of multidisciplinary OSH guidelines, provision of preventive information for workers, the development of different digital tools (risk assessment, exposure to physical loads/chemical substances/nano materials), monitoring of working conditions and international cooperation on research.
  • OSH catalogues (2007 - current[11]): Since legislation focusses more and more on statutory standards for OSH instead of rules concerning working procedures and rules on how these standards can be reached, it is stimulated, on sector level, to agree on an OSH catalogue'. This document describes methods, techniques, good examples, standards and practical manuals related to various risks in order to manage working conditions that are relevant to the sector and that are recognised by the employer and employee representatives. Although the working conditions catalogue is not mentioned specifically in the Working Conditions Act it is introduced in the amended Working Conditions Act and it is seen as a recognised ‘recipe’ for safe and healthy working conditions. Working with an OSH catalogue gives the company a guarantee that the legal obligations and objectives are met.
  • During the next four years (2018-2021) prevention of occupational diseases will be a new program. During 2018 and 2019 the main issue will be prevention of occupational diseases due to dangerous substances.

Strategic actions are prepared to achieve the Dutch OSH vision and goal. A basic prerequisite is the responsibility of employers and employees. The most important policy goal is to reinforce knowledge and improve the culture on the workplace to prevent work-related illness. The actions are focused on setting the agenda and stimulating, supporting, standardising, maintaining and monitoring[12] (Dutch version: Visie en strategie gezond en veilig werken[13]). Major objectives of the strategy are:

  • Setting the agenda and stimulating
  • Supporting employers and employees in creating healthy and safe work environments
  • Establishing frameworks   
  • Enforcement
  • Monitoring

Table 1 shows the major objectives with the related strategic actions.

Table 1: Details of the activity plan[12]

Objectives of the strategy Strategy actions
1. Setting the agenda and stimulating 1a. Sustainable employability: main focus lies on a cultural change. Awareness raising among employers and employees through communication campaigns, sharing scientific knowledge and good practice experiences. Main points of the program are:
  • tackling work-related psycho-social risks
  • raising awareness of sustainable employability, especially in SME.
  • other activities, such as: raising awareness for employees with a low socio-economic status and low-skilled employees

1b. Self-regulation: main focus on self-activation and personal responsibility of employers and employees for safe and healthy working. Making information available to all industries, sharing knowledge, experiences and tools from previous projects. This is done in a cross-sectoral approach. 1c. Responsible commissioning: focuses on the responsibility of commissioning parties: sufficient attention paid to health and safety aspects and planning at the beginning of a project will reduce workplace risks. 1d. Improvement of corporate culture: improve corporate culture with help of tools developed to raise awareness among employees. 1e. Health and safety educational program in vocational and other education: exploring ways to promote the incorporation of health and safety at work and awareness for this topic in vocational education and recognised training companies.

2. Supporting employers and employees in creating healthy and safe work environments 2a. Support centre for risk assessment tools (Steunpunt RI&E-instrumenten)

2b. Prevention worker project

  • Reinforcing the position of the prevention worker
  • Improving the quality of the advice of prevention worker

2c. OSH portal: Arboportaal – portal with up to date OSH information

3. Establishing frameworks   3a. Improvement of the work-related care system:
  • Review the Working Conditions Act
  • Promotion of cooperation between occupational health care and regular health care and of regional or sectoral occupational health care, of which self-employed persons can become members.

3b. Certification: tools to reinforce personal responsibility and enhance self-activation in quality ensurance. 3c. Working conditions catalogue: employers and workers descriptions of initiatives on how they meet OSH regulations of the government. 3d. Hazardous substances: special attention to carcinogens:

  • Establishing more and better limit values
  • Organising a conference concerning prevention of risks to exposure to carcinogens.
4. Enforcement "The government is responsible for establishing the occupational health and safety system and for the enforcement policy. The SZW Inspectorate monitors compliance with legislation and upholds the law. The ministry's activities are mainly centered on the leaders and middle group of companies. Notorious violators who refuse to comply require a firm enforcement by the Inspectorate."
5. Monitoring There is a system for systemic monitoring of working conditions, which yields plenty of information every year about the state of affairs of and developments in the quality of work.

Monitoring enables:

  • Keeping an overview of the situation,
  • Identifying risk groups,
  • Establishing compliance levels,
  • Providing periodic accountability information,
  • Answering evaluation questions,
  • Contributing to information, detection and facilitation of the field.

Previous programs

Action plan Occupational Safety (Actieplan Arbeidsveiligheid – 2010-2012).[14] The Action plan Occupational Safety aimed at raising awareness about safety and promoting safe behavior at work. The reason for the plan was a stagnation in the decline in the number of accidents since 2005. The aim of the plan was a 25% reduction of accidents within the participating companies. The Action Plan ran until 2012.

Strengthening working conditions Substances (Versterking Arbeidsomstandighedenbeleid Stoffen VASt; 2004-2007).[15] This program aimed at achieving a structural improvement of working conditions when working with substances. The program encouraged and supported primarily small and medium size enterprises in addressing risks of working with hazardous substances. The program also prepared companies for the new European chemicals legislation (REACH1).

Occupational Safety Improvement Program (Versterking Arbeidsveiligheid; 2003-2008).[16] The Occupational Safety Improvement Program aimed at reducing occupational accidents by at least 10% in 22 selected companies and industries. Focus was not on the introduction of technical measures, but mainly on changing safety behavior and culture of employers and employees.

Health and Safety Covenants (Arboconvenanten; 2001-2006).[17] In the Health and Safety Covenants employers’- and workers'-organisations and the government agreed on the reduction of exposure to significant occupational risks, reduction of work absenteeism and reduction of work disability. Where possible these tripartite agreements also included measurable targets and a commitment to monitor and evaluate these covenants.

Social dialogue

The Dutch system is characterized by a prominent role for social dialogue [18] [19]. This is often referred to as the so called ‘poldermodel’, i.e. policy making by consensus. The legal basis for the social dialogue is found in the Working Conditions Act [20], which states that a safe and healthy workplace is the combined responsibility of employers and employees. This stimulates the dialogue not only on an enterprise level, but also on a sector based and a national level.

Although the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment is and remains responsible for formulating legislation and policy, the social partners (the employers and employees representatives) can influence and shape the health and safety policy to a large extent. Partly by directly influencing the legislation, partly since the legislation is aimed more and more at only giving the objectives, by determining how to reach these objectives.

Social dialogue at a national level

On a national level there are two main social partners that have a strong influence. The Social Economic Council (SER)[21] and the Labour Foundation (STichting van de ARbeid - STAR)[22].

The SER is a tripartite 'deliberative body' and has existed since the second World War. On this council not only a representation of the employer and employee representative organisations hold a seat, but also 'Crown members'. Crown members are often professors or other nationally well-known persons and they are appointed by the government. The SER advises the Dutch government on all kinds of topics she decides to be relevant, whether asked for or not asked for. It is an unwritten rule that important national policy intentions of the government relating – amongst others – to working conditions and health issues are presented to this Council in request for advice. Most advisory reports by the Council are unanimous.

In the STAR only employers and employee representatives are active. The STAR also provides advice, whether asked for or not-asked for.

In addition, both unions and employers' organizations are active in the public and political discourse and there are regular meetings between social partners and policy makers.

Social dialogue at sectoral level

The Netherlands are known for its culture of collaboration and consultation. The structures of social dialogue are highly developed. In most sectors trade unions and sectoral/branch associations have an important role. Their influence is recognized by the government. Government and social partners collaborate on a large scale.

The social partners are formally involved in a number of specific instruments such as the aforementioned OSH catalogues and the Health and Safety Covenants[23] In this way the partners are more and more involved in shaping the working conditions of the workers in a sector/branch although it is the government that remains responsible for the working conditions.

At central level, the employee organisations work together in three trade union federations: [1] the Netherlands’ largest trade union federation FNV [24], [2]the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions CNV [25], and the [26] VCP, trade union federation for professional and managerial staff [27].

The employers work together at central level in the general employers’ association AWVN [28], the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (known as VNO-NCW) [29], the employers' association LTO, and the Royal Association of small and medium-sized enterprises (MKB-Nederland) [30]. These umbrella organisations hold regular consultations and have regular contact with the Government, either individually, as a section, or as a joint body. The experiences of the individual branch organisations and trade unions are pooled within these organisations. Next to this one of the core tasks of the federations is representing their members’ interests, and providing and exchanging information and experiences [31]

Social dialogue at enterprise level

The collaboration and social dialogue in companies is intensively promoted and prescribed. The participation of employees needs to lead to specific and relevant health and safety policy of a company as well as to more involvement and knowledge of employees. For example, employees in larger companies (50 or more employees) in the form of a Works Council (OR), need to be involved in the implementation of a risk inventory and assessment (RI&E)[31] [32]. In the RI&E companies make an inventory of the risks in their company (regarding physical or psychosocial safety or directly related to health). Companies then are obliged to make a plan of action, which should be send together with the risk inventory and assessment to an OSH-service for revision. For many sectors a sector specific RI&E checklist is available which is already approved by the social partners (employee and employer representatives). The RI&E forms the foundation for a good health and safety policy within companies. For companies it is the starting point for their specific actions related to work-related risks. Together with the comments of OSH-service the employer has to discuss the risk inventory and assessment and plan of action with the Works Council. The Works Council has a formal right to approve or disapprove this risk inventory and assessment including the plan of action of the employer.

In companies with more than 25 employees, the employer needs to appoint an employee as a prevention worker who assists the employer in the preparation and implementation of the risk inventory and assessment, including the plan of action. In small companies (up to 25 employees), the employer can fulfill this function him or herself. The prevention worker, together with the employer, can work out the occupational safety and health policy. The prevention worker works closely together with the Works council and the OSH professional (such as the occupational physician)

Occupational safety and health infrastructure

OSH infractructure Scheme

Figure 1: OSH infrastructure scheme in the Netherlands

Fig1Osh.PNG


Source: Overview by the authors

National competent bodies

Occupational safety and health authorities and Inspection services

On a national level Occupational Safety and Health is the responsibility of the Ministry of Social affairs and Employment (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid) [33] The ministry sets target regulations that state the degree to which the health and safety of employees at work should be protected.

Compliance to the rules and regulations is monitored by the Inspectorate SZW (Inspectie SZW) [34]. Since January 2012 the Inspectorate SZW combines the organizations and the activities of the former Labour Inspectorate (AI), the Work and Income Inspectorate (IWI) and the Social and Intelligence Investigation Service (SIOD) of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The Inspectorate SZW aims at achieving healthy and safe working conditions for all. The Inspectorate of Social Affairs is working according to a vision of an integrated and risk-oriented supervision. The inspection does not only focus on enforcement, but also has preventive tasks.

Occupational safety and health services

Article 14 of the Working Conditions Act requires employers to ask for professional support when formulating and implementing their health and safety policy [31], [3]. This means that employers need to organize internal or external support. Among other things this support is needed for the professional comment to the risk inventory and evaluation and plan of action made by the employer. Employers can do this by:

  • In- or external arrangement without an OSH service,. This is called the tailor made arrangement. In this arrangement an employer has to contract one or more occupational physicians to support him/her in the prevention and monitoring of absenteeism.
  • Using an internal or external certified OSH service (safety net arrangement).

The legislator wants to encourage as many employers as possible to arrange occupational health care internally. Preferably through a tailor made arrangement. If this is not possible the safety net arrangement can be chosen, with preference for an internal OSH service.

However a custom arrangement is only possible if the employer has a written agreement from the workers which can be arranged through the Works Council (OR) or with the staff representatives council (PVT), or if it is arranged in the collective labour agreement. If an employer chooses a tailor made arrangement at least one occupational doctor needs to be available for a.o. occupational health examination and pre-employment medical checks.

According to the Inspectorate SZW in 2009 3% of the companies formally had a tailor made arrangement [35]. The majority of companies uses external services (safety net arrangements) usually by contracting one of the large, multidisciplinary OSH service providers (Arbodiensten). These 'arbodiensten' assist employers with the formulation and execution of their health and safety policy. The health and safety obligations require specific expertise which employers usually do not have, the Arbodiensten assist the employer in his/her duties concerning Working conditions, absenteeism, reintegration assistance, and Risk assessment & evaluation (RI&E) [20]

There are many different Arbodiensten in the Netherlands, ranging from large national companies, to small regional or branch specific services. Arbodiensten usually are multidisciplinary and provide a wide range of services from preventive work checks, to checkups during sickness absenteeism, and health checks. A list of all certified arbodiensten can be found at the website of SBCA, which is the owner of the certification scheme of the arbodiensten. [10] Arbodiensten can employ workers of various backgrounds, but are required to have expertise in at least four core disciplines: an occupational physician; an Industrial Hygienist, a Safety expert and a Work Organization expert.

For workers who do not have an employer (such as workers who’s temporary contract ends during their sickness) the public organisation Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen [36] (UWV) takes over the employers’ tasks regarding sickness absenteeism.

Compensation and insurance bodies

The Civil Code [37]stipulates that in case of illness of an employee an employer must pay at least 70% (and no less than the minimum wage) of the wage for two years (104 weeks. Employers can insure themselves for the financial risks of this wage payment. These insurances are sold by private insurance companies.

After two years of absenteeism according to the Work and income labour capacity act (WIA)[38] [39] [40] an employees can obtain a work disability benefit if he or she is disabled for at least 35%. Employers are obliged to insure themselves for these payments. The insurance premium consists of three parts:

  1. A fixed basis premium which is equal for all employers,
  2. An additional (optional) premium. Employers can choose to cover this themselves, or insure with a private company,
  3. A (optional) premium that depends on the disability risk in the company. Again employers can choose to cover this risk themselves, or insure this with a private company.

These disability benefits are paid to the employee by the UWV. The WIA distinguishes two different kinds of benefits:

  1. WGA (Regeling Werkhervatting Gedeeltelijk Arbeidsgeschikten; Return to Work arrangement for Partially Disabled); benefits for those who can still partially (35-80%) work, and are expected to recover in the future,
  2. IVA (Inkomensvoorziening, Volledig en duurzame Arbeidsongeschikten; Income Provision for Fully and permanently Disabled); benefits for those employees who are able to work less than 20%, and are not likely to recover.

Other occupational safety and health bodies

Professional associations

The four core disciplines in OSH management (occupational medicine; Industrial Hygiene, a Safety expert, and Work Organization psychology) all have their own professional organization.

NVAB[41] The Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB) started in 1946 as a separate section of the Association of Public Health and was officially founded in 1953. Nowadays about 90% of the occupational physicians in The Netherlands, i.e. more than 2000, are a NVAB-member. One of NVAB’s goals is enhancement of the scientific basis of occupational health practice and improvement of the professional quality of occupational physicians. One of the tools in a quality-improving strategy is the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Therefore in 1998, the NVAB started a program for the development and implementation of evidence-based practice guidelines. To professionalize these activities, NVAB set up a Centre of Excellence in 2003.

OVAL[42] OVAL is the sector organization of occupational health services, intervention businesses, outplacement and career counseling, reintegration companies, organizations and job coaches. OVAL combines the strengths of service providers active in the field of work, career and vitality. They contribute to sustainable employability. The organizations are large or small, with a general or specialist-orientation, working for both people and organizations. They work for employers, insurers, employees, UWV, municipalities and individual job seekers.

BA&O[43] The Professional association for occupation and organisation experts (Beroepsvereniging Arbeids- en Organisatiedeskundigen (BA&O)) was established in 1993 and has its origins in the legislation in the field of working conditions from the same year, and the Occupational Health services started using a new core expert. While at first most BA&O members worked for an occupational health service, nowadays many work as an internal consultant, as an independent contractor or a consultant. The focus of the BA&O is on the individual, the group and the organization. They support the changes necessary to get a better match between organization and employees.

NVVK[44] The NVVK (Netherlands Society of Safety experts) was founded in 1947. It is the knowledge platform for safety engineers in the Netherlands and currently has 2,200 members The NVVK is actively involved in changes in laws and regulations. The NVVK wants to make a contribution to the development of safety expertise and to the level of knowledge of its members. In addition, the NVVK wants to contribute to public debate on OSH. It also pursues to look after common professional interests of members as much as possible.

NVvA[45] The Dutch Society for Occupational Hygiene (NVvA) was founded in 1983 and currently has 500 members. Goals of the NVvA are

  • To stimulate he execution of the profession and to promote it’s quality
  • To promote the scientific development of occupational Hygiene
  • To promote the awareness of the field of occupational hygiene field.

Next to these organizations there are dozens of associations for professionals working in the occupational health & safety policy area. These organizations mainly focus on dissemination of knowledge and, defending the interest of their members with the Government and employers’ and employees’ organisations. Examples are.[19]:

  • Beroepsorganisatie ArboVerpleegkunde
  • Nederlandse Vereniging van Arbeidsdeskundigen
  • Nederlandse Vereniging van Maatschappelijk Werkers
  • Nederlandse Vereniging voor Bedrijfsfysiotherapeuten
  • Nederlandse Vereniging voor Ergonomie Dutch Association for Ergonomics
  • Nederlandse Vereniging voor Ergotherapie Professional association of Occupational therapy
  • Nederlands Instituut van Psychologen

Education, training and awareness raising

Legally required training for OSH specialists

The level of training of most OSH specialists is at college or university level. Only for the four core disciplines there is a mandatory education. The four core OSH disciplines are

  1. Occupational physician,
  2. Industrial hygienist,
  3. Safety expert
  4. Labor and organization specialist.

OSH specialists usually have a general basic training (e.g. Medicine, psychology), with an additional education/specialization in OSH. In order to be certified OSH specialists need to register with a, government approved, certification institute. Certification (and registration) is valid for a limited number of years. During this period specialists need to prove that their knowledge and skills are still up to date in order to be re-certified.

Registration is executed by discipline specific, and certified, certification institutes. The exact requirements for certification and lists of certified core specialists can be found online [46] [47] [48] [49]


Awareness raising networks

Arboportaal (Health and safety portal) The Health and safety portal serves as a starting point for information on working conditions. The aim is to encourage employers, employees and staff to inform themselves about prevention and by reference to other relevant sources.[50]

Arbokennisnet Arbokennisnet is a website of the joint four OSH core disciplines and provides support for OSH professionals [51]

Focal Point The Netherlands Focal Point is the Dutch representative of the information network of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. This network aims at providing OSH information among employers and employees, enhancing cooperation between member states and exchanging information and experience. The network, and thus the Netherlands Focal Point, is a tripartite organization meaning that it works with governments, employers and workers representatives. In the Netherlands the Focal Point is carried out by TNO.[19] The Focal Point, together with the focal points of other countries forms a reference point for OSH information. Information on OSH, scientific research, statistics on OSH risks, good practices and information on legislation can be found on the website, through electronic newsletters, and in a range of printed publications. Publicity campaigns include the the Healthy Workplaces Campaign and European Week for Safety and Health at Work.

inPreventie This website is especially made for prevention workers to inform and support them with their prevention tasks within the company.

Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

In the Netherlands several research institutes focus on the field of occupational health and safety. Some institutes focus on a specific topic (for example The Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases and the Research Center for Insurance Medicine), while other institutes focus on OSH in general. Such as universities and research centers like TNO, ASTRI, Regioplan and the RIVM.

Research centers that focus on a specific topic Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases [52] The Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases (NCvB) registers and reports occupational diseases via the national notification and registration system and a number of specific surveillance projects. The NCvB is the foremost knowledge institute for occupational health and safety professionals, unions and employers’ organisations, government institutions and policy makers.

Kenniscentrum verzekeringsgeneeskunde [53] The Dutch Research Center for Insurance Medicine (Kenniscentrum Verzekeringsgeneeskunde (KVCG)) is a joint initiative of several universities. The purpose of the KCVG is to promote the quality and scientific support of insurance medicine by developing and evaluating methods, guidelines, tools and interventions. The KCVG, in collaboration with the AMC, the UMCG and the VUmc, aims to raise the issue of insurance medicine in schools with medical students and specialist registrars (basisartsen in opleiding) in insurance medicine. The KCVG strives to work in partnership with other educational institutes in order to be active in as wide a range of research fields as possible. Some of the subjects that are dealt with by the KCVG are:

  • Causes and consequences of health-related incapacity for work,
  • Prevention and reduction of health-related incapacity for work,
  • Consequences of new regulations with regard to insurance medicine.

Research centers that focus on OSH in general:

STECR Reintegration Platform: STECR Reintegration Platform [54] is an independent knowledge centre in the area of prevention, providing guidance during absenteeism and reintegration. The STECR makes inventories and correlates and presents specialist information on prevention, guidance during absenteeism and reintegration in order to stimulate quality amongst reintegration service providers. The centre functions as a platform, arranges meetings between professionals (mainly from the health & safety sector) and provides up-to-date information about reintegration via its website.

TNO: [55] TNO is a knowledge institute for businesses, government bodies and social organisations. It provides contract research and specialist advice, grants licences under patent and develops specialist software. It also tests and certifies products and services, and gives independent quality assessments.

Standardization bodies

The Standards Organization of the Netherlands The Standards Organization of the Netherlands (Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut, NEN) [56] supports the making of agreements on products, processes and services, and publishes standards. Employers and employees are mutually responsible for setting their own standards, so the NEN supplies them with the knowledge and experience they need for their consultations. The NEN works in close collaboration with European (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI) and worldwide (ISO, IEC and ITU) partners.

Stichting Beheer Certificatie Arbodiensten [57] In the SBCA (Foundation for monitoring certification in health & safety services), Government, trade unions and employers’ organisations work together to set the standards that health & safety services must satisfy in order to be admitted to the profession.

Raad voor Accreditatie [58] In many countries, accreditation is a government task. But in the Netherlands, the accreditation institute is an organisation governed by private law, whereby the government acts as client, regulator and discussion partner. If the government considers it necessary to implement accreditation in particular sectors, the government is the client. But the government is not only the client: it is also a discussion partner for the accreditation institute. The RvA (Accreditation Council) holds regular discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The agreement between the State and the RvA allows room for formulating tailor-made agreements for specific areas of special attention with various ministries.

Institutions and organisations

Table 1: Main OSH institutions and organisations in the Netherlands

Tab1Inst.PNG

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Elders, L., Bedrijfsgezondheidszorg in Nederland. Het spanningsveld tussen verzuimbegeleiding en preventie, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mulder, H., de Boer, H., Arbeidsomstandigheden: bouwen aan een gezonde organisatie Kluwer, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2004
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 NL-Focal Point/EU OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2012). Working Conditions Act of 18 March 1999, containing provisions to improve working conditions (Working Conditions Act). Retrieved June 2012, from http://osha.europa.eu/fop/netherlands/en/legislation/
  4. Walz, G., and de Ruig., L Arbostelsels en -outcome in Europees perspectief Quickscan naar arbostelsels in vier landen Zoetermeer, 6 juni 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 NL-Focal Point/EU OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2012). Working Conditions Decree of 15 January 1997, including provisions in the interest of health, safety and welfare in connection with work (Working Conditions Decree). Retrieved June 2012, from http://osha.europa.eu/fop/netherlands/en/legislation/
  6. 6.0 6.1 NL-Focal Point/EU OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2012). Regulation containing provisions implementing rules established in and by virtue of the Working Conditions Act and other legislation. Retrieved June 2012, from http://osha.europa.eu/fop/netherlands/en/legislation
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Links for further reading

Stichting Beheer Certificatieregeling Arbodiensten. Gecertificeerde arbodiensten [11]

European network. The Dutch Working Conditions Legislation [12]

National Center for Occupational Diseases. Occupational diseases. [13]

FNV (2010). The social dialogue in the Netherlands. Retrieved June 2012, from: [14]

UWV [15]