Health and safety at work

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Checked 31 Aug 2022
2 min read
Nederlandse versie

Do you have staff? As an employer in the Netherlands, you must seek the support of an occupational health and safety expert to deal with certain tasks. You can for instance call in a company doctor or an occupational health and safety agency. You use their expertise in case of:

  1. illness of an employee (reducing absenteeism)
  2. medical examinations for new employees (pre-employment)
  3. voluntary periodic occupational health examinations (PAGO) or periodical medical examinations (PMO)
  4. access to a company doctor
  5. implementing and executing a risk assessment and evaluation (RI&E)

A company doctor can help you with the first 4 tasks. To draw up an RI&E you need the help from an expert:

  • company doctor
  • occupational hygienist
  • safety expert
  • labour and organisation expert

For more information on the rules around illness and medical examinations you can consult the Working Conditions Decree.

Organising health and safety support

It is up to you as employer how you organise the health and safety support for your employees. You can either employ a health and safety officer or hire a health and safety agency.

Support from a health and safety agency

You can call in a health and safety agency to support you with your occupational health and safety affairs. This is called a safety net scheme (vangnetregeling, in Dutch). You enter into a contract with 1 certified agency. A health and safety agency employs several health and safety experts. You can find certified agencies in the register of the Stichting Beheer Certificatieregeling Arbodiensten (Foundation for the Management of Certification Scheme for Health and Safety Services, in Dutch).

Support from a health and safety expert

You can also choose to call in a health and safety expert. This is called a customised scheme (maatwerkregeling, in Dutch). You then enter into a contract with at least 1 company doctor to support you in matters of absence management, pre-employment medical examinations, PAGO, and (open) consultation hours. Do you have an employee representation, for instance a works council? This representation must agree to the customised scheme in writing. This is not necessary if the customised scheme has been defined in the collective labour agreement (CAO).

Whichever option you choose, the health and safety expert or agency must have the proper qualifications (in Dutch). The same applies to health and safety officers in tailormade schemes. The certification of your health and safety expert must be carried out by a certified organisation (certificerende instellingen, in Dutch).

Basic contract

The Health and Safety Act specifies that agreements between health and safety officers and their employers are subject to minimum requirements. This is called the basic contract (in Dutch). In this contract the rights and duties of the employer, employee, health and safety experts, and company doctor are laid down. Employers can include extra duties in consultation with their health and safety officers and employees. This is called the basic plus contract (in Dutch). Failure to meet the minimum requirements can result in a fine from the Netherlands Labour Authority.

Right to a second opinion

If an employee is ill, this person has the legal right to consult the company doctor. Is the employee in doubt about the doctor’s opinion? Then the employee has the right to ask for a second opinion from a different, independent company doctor. As an employer you must pay for these expenses.

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