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Every year, around 60 workers die in the Netherlands as a result of an accident at work. Moreover, there are around 2,300 serious accidents at work that require hospitalisation each year, some of which result in permanent injuries. How do you go about safety at work, and what should you do in hazardous working conditions?
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Who is most at risk of having an accident at work?
Painters, carpenters, plasterers, and bricklayers are at high risk of accidents at work because tripping/falling is at the top of the list of serious accidents at work. But accidents at work are also common among bench machinists, mechanics, and repair people. You are also at greater risk of an accident if you work with hazardous substances, or under high work pressure.
What can I do in hazardous working conditions?
The following steps will help you tackle the risks of an accident at work:
Discuss it with your colleagues
Consult with your colleagues. Do they see the same kind of accident risks in your work? If so, take your complaints to the manager together. Together you are stronger.
Discuss it with your supervisor
Discuss what you consider to be hazardous working conditions with your supervisor. And ask if they are taking preventive measures. Make clear agreements. Who does what, and when? Don’t take "I’ll keep an eye on it" as an answer.
Involve the Works Council [ondernemingraad (OR)] or Staff Representation [personeelsvertegenwoordiging (PVT)]
Discuss the problems with the Works Council (or staff representatives), preferably with your colleagues present.
Discuss it with the prevention officer
Discuss with the prevention officer where you think hazardous working conditions arise. Make it clear that you are looking for a solution that works for everyone.
Go to the occupational health and safety consultation
Go to your company doctor’s open consultation hour. This is possible even if you are not disabled, but you have been in an accident.
Check your RI&E
Check whether the risks and measures are included in the Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E) and the Plan of Action.
Check your Health and Safety Catalogue
Check your sector’s Health and Safety Catalogue for possible solutions to reduce the risk of an accident at work. You can find the Health and Safety Catalogue for your sector on arboportaal.nl
Send a complaint to the SZW Inspectorate
If talking doesn’t help, file a complaint with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment [Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (SZW)] Inspectorate. You can read how to do this at the bottom of this page.
When should you report an accident?
You should always report an accident to your manager or employer. And they must always report a serious accident (fatality, permanent injury, or hospitalisation) to the SZW Inspectorate (formerly the Labour Inspectorate). Your employer must also keep a record of all accidents at work.
How to report to the SZW Inspectorate
You can call the SZW Inspectorate free of charge from the Netherlands on the following number: +31 (0) 800 – 5151. From abroad you can call the following number: +31 70 - 333 44 44. The SZW Inspectorate can be reached by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.