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As specified in the Dutch Working Conditions Act(Arbowet), business owners in the Netherlands must designate one or more health and safety officers. If you have 25 employees or less, you yourself may act as the health and safety officer. A health and safety officer focuses on day-to-day health and safety issues within a company. When you have selected a health and safety officer, you need approval from the works council or staff representation before you can appoint them.
Tasks of the health and safety officer
A health and safety officer has three statutory tasks:
- Drafting and implementing (either independently or with others) the mandatory risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E).
- Advising and consulting the works council or staff representation on working conditions.
- Implementing health and safety measures.
The health and safety officer must:
- be easily and safely accessible
- be given enough time to perform his or her duties
- have sufficient levels of knowledge and experience to carry out these tasks. If there is insufficient knowledge and experience within your company, you may call on an external health and safety expert for support.
The health and safety officer and the works council
The Netherlands Working Conditions Act (in Dutch) has increased employee participation in occupational health services.
- The works council has the right of consent on the choice and location of the prevention officer.
- Every employee must be able to make use of the services of the medical officer. This medical officer may speak with the works council, and he/she has gained advisory duties.
- There are minimum requirements for the host contract with the medical officer.
- The SZW Inspectorate has gained more freedom for enforcement and monitoring.
Under the Working Conditions Act every employer must have an agreement with a working conditions service (Arbodienst) or company doctor. This is called the basic contract in which the rights and duties of the employer, the health and safety officer and company doctor are laid down. Failure to meet the basic contract requirements (in Dutch) could result in a fine from the Inspectorate SZW. Employers are at liberty to include extra duties in consultation with their health and safety officers. This is called the basic plus contract.