Working with hazardous substances

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Hazardous substances are dangerous for humans and their environment. They may be explosive, poisonous or carcinogenic. If you own a company in the Netherlands and your employees could be exposed to hazardous substances while carrying out their work, you are required to take measures to limit or avoid that exposure to the greatest degree possible. When taking measures, you must follow the occupational hygiene strategy.

Digital tools

Arboportaal has developed a digital tool called the Substances Manager (Stoffenmanager). This multi-language tool describes what measures you can take in your company. You can choose your language in the top-right corner. Various sector-specific substance managers are available. The Inspectorate SZW (Social Affairs and Employment) has drawn up a self-assessment service for working with hazardous substances (in Dutch), with which you can assess whether you and your employees handle hazardous substances in a correct and safe manner.

Diesel engine emissions

Diesel engine emissions (exhaust gases from diesel engines) consist of gases and soot. Soot may cause cancer. To protect your employees against these emissions, you must take measures in a specific sequence. First: replace diesel engines, this is mandatory for forklift trucks with a capacity of less than 4 tonnes that are used inside a building. If replacement is not possible: reduce emissions, install soot filters, isolate working areas, limit amount of inhalation and provide employees with protective respiratory equipment.

Sawdust and quartz dust

Sawdust (houtstof) is the result of sawing, sanding or planing wood. Exposure can be harmful to people’s health. You must ensure that the exposure to sawdust remains below certain limits set by law.

Sawdust is also capable of causing dust explosions. Therefore, you need to compile an explosion safety document (explosieveiligheidsdocument) as part of your risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) before you start working with wood. This document has to investigate the explosion risk in all parts of your company and state how you plan to minimise risks.

Quartz dust (kwartsstof) is released when processing materials that contain quartz. For example, drilling or milling in a concrete ceiling or brick wall releases quartz dust into the air. The legally set limit for quartz dust is 0,075 mg/m3 during an 8-hour working day. Exposure can be limited by using protective clothing, regularly cleaning the workspace and ensuring sufficient ventilation. Sandblasting with materials containing more than 1% quartz is not allowed.

You are obliged to evaluate exposure to sawdust and quartz dust in your risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E).

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO