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In the Netherlands there are strict rules for working with with asbestos. However, some activities concerning asbestos management are allowed.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a hazardous substance that was often used before 1994 in buildings, trains, ships, industrial installations and when paving roads, paths and yards. The Dutch government wants to remove asbestos as much as possible from society. Producing, applying and recycling asbestos is therefore prohibited in the Netherlands. However, a number of specific asbestos activities are allowed. 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 the products containing asbestos that are applied in and around houses. If you want to refurbish, renovate or demolish your building, you must:
- have a certified company check for asbestos
- submit a demolition notification at your local authorities or apply for an All-in-one permit for physical aspects
- have the asbestos removed by a certified company. When asbestos is removed, a Professional Supervisor for the Demolition of Asbestos (Deskundig Toezichthouder Asbestsloop, DTA) must always be present
Asbestos in soil and materials
Asbestos may be found in and on soil, in dredged materials and in rubble. Only recognised companies and persons are allowed to carry out soil testing on asbestos. You must report asbestos in soil, earth, roads, paths and yards to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (Inspectie Leefomgeving and Transport, ILT).
National Asbestos Tracking System
The National Asbestos Tracking System (Landelijk Asbestvolgsystem, LAVS) monitors the entire process of removing asbestos, from the notification of an asbestos survey assignment by a principal through to the depositing of the asbestos at the dump. The LAVS system is compulsory for asbestos surveyors and asbestos removal companies. For more information, please contact the National Asbestos Tracking System Help Desk (in Dutch).
Asbestos certification schemes
Only certified asbestos removal companies and persons are allowed to remove 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 bij the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. Inspections are strict and if you do not comply with the regulations you may get a fine of up to €3,000.
Reporting asbestos exposure
Asbestos work is divided in 2 risk classes. Depending on the risk class you must take certain measures. Work that may expose an employee to asbestos must be reported in advance to the SZW Inspectorate (Inspectie SZW). You can do this digitally or in writing. If you discover asbestos unexpectedly, you must call SZW Inspectorate straight away.
If you are an asbestos remover, you can take an online test (in Dutch) that shows the main risks involved and how to avoid these.
Working with asbestos in the building sector
The factsheet 'Asbestos in construction' (2004) of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work explains what asbestos is, its health effects, where it may be found and who is at risk.
Financial compensation for asbestos victims
Asbestos victims suffering from mesothelioma or asbestosis (black lungs or brown lung disease) can apply for financial compensation to the Dutch Institute of Asbestos Victims (IAS, in Dutch). There are 2 schemes:
- Employees who have developed the illness from exposure to asbestos can use the TAS scheme.
- Independent business people who have developed the illness through exposure to asbestos in a private situation can use the TNS scheme.
If you as an employer are liable for harm to the health of your (former) employer, you must pay compensation.