Working with asbestos

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Asbestos is a dangerous substance found in older construction materials. Exposure to it can cause serious and deadly illnesses. In the Netherlands, the use of asbestos is prohibited. There are strict rules for working with asbestos. Inspections are strict and if you do not comply with the regulations, you may be fined.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a hazardous substance that until 1994 was often used in buildings, trains, ships, industrial installations and when paving roads, paths and yards. Producing, applying and recycling asbestos is since prohibited in the Netherlands. However, a small number of specific asbestos activities are allowed (in Dutch). Strict rules apply to this.

Asbestos in buildings and houses

Buildings from before 1994 may contain asbestos. The (Dutch-language) Asbestos Guide from InfoMil Knowledge Centre can inform you about products containing asbestos that are applied in and around houses.

Removing asbestos

If you want to remove asbestos, you need to have the site tested by a certified asbestos abatement company (in Dutch). Their report will tell you if the risk class of the asbestos removal work is low (risk class 1) or high (risk class 2 and 2a).

If the removal work falls into risk class 1, the following rules apply:

  • A non-certified company may remove the asbestos.
  • Employees must be trained in asbestos removal.
  • Employees must have the opportunity to get a physical examination before starting the removal work.
  • The abatement company must report the asbestos removal work to the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie) at least 2 days before starting demolition work.
  • You must submit a demolition notification at least 2 days before the start of the removal work. You can submit the notification to the local authority or online through the service counter all-in-one-permit for physical aspects (in Dutch).

If the removal work falls into risk class 2 or 2a the following rules apply:

  • Only certified asbestos abatement companies may do this type of removal work.
  • A Professional Supervisor for the Demolition of Asbestos (Deskundig Toezichthouder Asbestsloop, DTA) has to supervise the asbestos removal. You can find a DTA or certified company through the register of the Asbestos Certification Foundation (Ascert, in Dutch).
  • You must report to the National Asbestos Tracking System (Landelijk Abestvolgsysteem, LAVS, in Dutch), who will monitor the entire asbestos removal process.

Asbestos certification schemes

Only certified asbestos removal companies and persons are allowed to test for asbestos. An asbestos certification scheme contains the general principles and regulations concerning certification. The scheme states the conditions under which a certificate can be issued. There are personal certificates (in Dutch) and process certificates (in Dutch).

To be entered in the register (in Dutch) you need a certificate. You can apply for certification with an organisation appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour.

Reporting asbestos exposure

Work that may expose an employee to asbestos must be reported in advance to the Netherlands Labour Authority. You can do this digitally or in writing. If you discover asbestos unexpectedly, you must call Netherlands Labour Authority straight away.

Protect your employees from asbestos exposure

You must take precautions to protect your employees from asbestos-related diseases. You must add the risk of asbestos exposure to your Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E) report. Employees who work with asbestos, have a right to a medical exam at least once every 3 years.

For more information on asbestos and how to protect your employees from asbestos exposure, you can check the Netherlands Labour Authority's FAQ page (in Dutch).

Are you being held accountable by an (ex) employee who has contracted an asbestos related disease? You might be liable for damages. The Institute for Asbestos Victims (Instituut Asbestslachtoffers) can help to mediate between you and your (ex) employee (in Dutch).