This is what you need to know about safety at work

The number of workplace accidents is high. As an employer, you are responsible for a safe and healthy working environment. How do you comply? Check your company’s workplace safety with this overview

In 2021, 3,482 workplace accidents were reported to the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA). How safe is your workplace? For example, does the building comply with the rules of the Building Decree (bouwbesluit)? And is the fire and burglary protection in your premises in order? Get to work on safety within your company. This overview, aimed at SME companies with employees, will help you.

Health and safety policy

In a health and safety policy, you record all the measures you take to keep your staff working safely and healthily. For employers, a health and safety policy (in Dutch) is required by law. In it, you draw up the health and safety rules that apply in your company. The rules depend on the type of business you have and the working conditions. When there are complaints and accidents, the NLA checks whether employers comply with health and safety regulations.

If the health and safety rules are violated, the NLA can impose penalties (in Dutch), such as fines and company shutdowns.

This is how you draw up a health and safety policy:

1. Identify the risks

A risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) is the basis for your health and safety policy. The aim of the RI&E is to prevent health complaints and accidents. In the RI&E, you identify all occupational risks within your company. Anything from working with machines or hazardous substances to screen work, inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, or work pressure. An RI&E is mandatory if you employ staff.

2. Make an action plan

Create an action plan for managing these risks. In it, you describe the measures you will be taking to address the occupational risks. For example, redesigning workplaces to meet health and safety requirements. Do you employ more than 25 employees? Then have the inventory and the action plan reviewed by an occupational health and safety expert.

3. Implement and update plan

Finally, you implement your action plan. The plan states who does what and within what timeframe. Regularly, but at least once a year, review your action plan and assess the progress. Has all everything that was agreed been done? Have any new situations arisen that you need to add to the action plan? Take a look at the causes of any accidents or absenteeism, for instance. It is also important to update the action plan when making new business investments or changing work processes. That will lead to less absenteeism and will also boost the job satisfaction and the productivity of your employees.

Use the Emergency Response Guide to calculate how many in-house emergency and first-aid officers you need in your business.

Arrange for in-house emergency response measures

You are obliged to have in-house emergency response measures (bedrijfshulpverlening, BHV) in your company. An in-house emergency responder (bhv’er) is trained to help your staff and customers get to safety in an emergency. The responder (in Dutch) knows, for instance, how to get people out of a burning building and administer first aid in the event of an accident. They can also resuscitate people, and apply bandages.

There is no legal minimum requirement for the number of in-house emergency responders. How many bhv’ers you need will depend on a number of factors:

  • the risks in your business that could lead to emergencies
  • the size of your business, the number of employees and visitors
  • the number of those present who cannot ensure their own safety and who depend on help from others
  • the availability and response time of professional responders such as fire and ambulance services
  • any external risks posed, for example, by nearby businesses
  • the presence of in-house emergency responders, and their absence in connection with leave, absence, shifts, rosters, and work outside the company
  • the ways in which emergency-response tasks such as evacuation, firefighting, and first aid are distributed

The Company Emergency Response Handbook (Handreiking Bedrijfshulpverlening, in Dutch) explains how to calculate the number of in-house emergency responders in your company. Make sure there are always enough in-house emergency responders in your company.

Create a business emergency plan

A business emergency plan (in Dutch) is a handbook that sets out what to do in a situation that poses a danger to your company, your staff, the environment, or the surrounding area. Such an emergency could be a fire, an industrial accident or a spill of hazardous substances, for example. An emergency can happen just like that, even if you have taken all necessary precautions. The sections set out in the business emergency plan are:

  • emergency response
  • fire prevention
  • floor plans
  • staff
  • available technical facilities, such as lifts and air-conditioning systems

Business continuity plan

A business emergency plan is not the same as a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan is not about the emergency itself, but about how you respond to the consequences of the emergency. For example, how do you continue working if not all of your staff are present, if you have no access to your premises, or if your ICT systems fail.

Make sure there is a first-aid kit

Every employer is to provide a first-aid kit (in Dutch). This kit should be clearly visible and within easy reach. A first-aid kit should be present in each department or work area. The rule of thumb is 1 kit for every 50 employees. Regularly check and replenish the contents of the kit.


Draw up an evacuation plan

An evacuation plan will ensure that people get out of your premises safely in case of an emergency. You record in an evacuation plan agreements on how to act in the event of a disaster, such as a fire. For example, clear instructions for your staff, escape routes, and the division of tasks for the bhv’ers.

Conduct an evacuation drill (in Dutch) for your premises at least once a year. That way, panic is less likely to break out in the case of an actual emergency. An evacuation plan is not the same as a business emergency plan. An evacuation plan only covers evacuation and is part of your business emergency plan.

Take fire-safety measures

On your business location, you are required to take fire-safety measures. National rules apply. They can be found in the Dutch Building Decree (in Dutch). This Decree contains, among other things, provisions on preventing fire through fire-proofing. It also contains rules for storing flammable substances. In Article 6.19 (in Dutch) of the Building Decree you will find information on how many smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are required in your premises. How many of each depends on your business activities, and the size of your company.

Your premises must always comply with the provisions of the Dutch Building Decree. In certain cases (in Dutch), you need an Environment and planning permit covering fire safety. This is necessary in high-risk situations, such as business premises where a lot of people congregate. For example, a catering establishment or a daycare centre.

Practice evacuating your premises at least once a year

Set up escape routes

An escape route is a safe path out of a building during an emergency. The Dutch Building Decree sets out rules (in Dutch) on the number of escape routes, and the standards that these must comply with. For example, escape routes should be accessible and should be clearly indicated by signs and lighting. It should be possible to open doors along escape routes quickly and easily – without a key, for example.

Install emergency lighting

Emergency lighting helps prevent people from losing their way in your premises during an emergency. The lighting must point to a safe exit. Different rules (in Dutch) apply to the installation of emergency lighting, depending on such factors as how many employees there are.

Protection against burglary

Give burglars as little chance as possible by taking extra security measures (in Dutch). For example, installing security cameras, an alarm system, and good outdoor lighting. Fit windows and doors with burglar-proof locks and hinges, and put in good security lighting with motion sensors.

Make proper arrangements with your employees about opening and closing your premises. Make a note of which employees have keys, and have each employee sign for receipt. Work with certified keys. This means that you need a pass or a certificate for additional keys.


Check that you are fully insured. Some business insurance policies are compulsory, such as building insurance if you own business premises. If you carry building insurance, you are covered for damage to your commercial building caused by fire, water, or vandalism. In addition, you can opt take out non-compulsory types of insurance, such as business-interruption insurance. This covers you against the loss of turnover if your business comes to a standstill after a fire or a storm. Or you can take out cyber insurance, which covers your business against damage caused by cybe rincidents.

KVK Insurance Check

Naturally you want to be covered against risks you face as a business owner. You can do just that by taking out insurance. To see what kind of policy you need, just do the KVK Insurance Check.

Digital security

In addition to physical security, you also need to protect your business digitally. What risks do you run as an entrepreneur and what should you watch out for? Use the Digital security checklist to check whether you are cyber-safe.