On Wednesday 19 September 2018, Marc Kuipers, Inspector-General at the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW Inspectorate), received the first issue of ‘Opgelucht[i]’ from Emiel Rolink, Director at Lung Alliance Netherlands (Long Alliantie Nederland) and Frank Vrolijks, Director at RPS Netherlands. Both parties are using this joint publication to help companies create working environments that aim to prevent occupational lung diseases.
Over four thousand people die from the consequences of occupational illnesses every year; over three thousand of which can be attributed to exposure to certain substances. This is five times the number of people that die in road accidents. And unnecessarily too, because a lot of problems can be avoided with appropriate insights and measures. However, many companies are still not taking enough measures to work safely and healthily with harmful substances. This not only relates to carcinogenic and toxic substances like ammoniac, diesel fumes and chrome-6, but also to apparently innocent substances like everyday cleaning products and natural substances like dust and moulds.
Lung Alliance Netherlands (LAN) and RPS are continuously working to prevent exposure to harmful substances. The publication of ‘Opgelucht’ represents a joint effort to improve awareness among employees and employers about working with substances in a responsible manner. The publication features interviews that address occupational illnesses from a medical, legal, behavioural and commercial perspective. The initiative is thus in keeping with the awareness and information campaign entitled ‘Working safely with harmful substances’, which has been launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW).
The opening article features an interview with a forty year-old victim and shows that the effects of occupational illnesses can manifest themselves very quickly. He is a welder and is suffering severe physical consequences after being unnecessarily exposed to toxic fumes due to improper protection. The story with a company physician then calls for employers to do more when establishing effective prevention policy. The hazardous substances project leader at the SZW Inspectorate highlights a ‘Self-inspection tool’ that can help companies when doing so. The publication also shows how Strukton Rail has adopted a safe and healthy approach to its activities.
The position of occupational hygienists is also addressed in detail and a lawyer provides legal insights with regards to health and safety claims. Aviation expert Benno Baksteen rounds everything off with lessons we can learn from the air transport industry.
Please visit www.opgelucht.nl for further information. This site adopts various perspectives to address the issue of working with harmful substances. This includes stories by experts from various professional disciplines, practical tips and the latest news. It also gives you the opportunity to request a printed or online version of the 'Opgelucht’ publication.