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National strategies are vital policy instruments to enhance the effectiveness of an OSH system by defining the key priorities and actions for improving workers’ health and safety.

The Commission called on the Member States to update and draw up their national OSH strategies in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 - in cooperation with social partners - to ensure that the new measures are applied on the ground. 

The Dutch system is characterised by a strong social dialogue. Employers and employees within a company have primary responsibility for the occupational health and safety policy. They are required to reach an agreement on working conditions and are supported by trade unions and the trade association of the sector in drafting appropriate occupational health and safety measures. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment grants companies’ greater leeway to customise the way they seek to promote good working conditions. All rules derive from the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet)[1], the Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit)[2] or the Working Conditions Regulations (Arboregeling)[3].


Basic information on the national OSH strategy

The current strategy is: Arbovisie 2040: De trend gekeerd “Samenwerken aan een gezond en veilig werkend Nederland”[4]. There is no English version available, the English title (translation by google translator) is: Occupational Health and Safety Vision 2040: The trend reversed. “Working together towards a healthy and safe working Netherlands”.

The former version of the strategy is: Visie en strategie gezond en veilig werken[5], with the English version: 
Dutch vision and strategy for occupational safety and health[6].


Background and the perceived problem

The evaluation of the occupational safety agenda in 2012 shows that the basic principles of occupational safety policy formulated at the time are no longer sufficient to effectively address current problems. In addition, not all professional risks had been sufficiently taken into account[7].

The occupational health and safety policy should be better adapted to the current developments in the world of work such as digitalization, robotization and artificial intelligence. The nature of many tasks, work patterns, and workplaces is changing. More and more workers do not work in traditional jobs with fixed working hours, fixed workplaces, and permanent contracts. Migrant workers, platform workers, solo or false self-employed workers are also to be considered in the OSH policy. 

New (dangerous) substances can endanger health and viruses can develop into a pandemic. The world of work has been profoundly affected by the global virus pandemic Covid-19.


Main characteristics and objectives of the OSH-strategy (activity plan)

The vision, goals and strategic actions that contribute to safety and health in the workplace are discussed in the strategy.

The new vision was developed based on discussions with stakeholders and an analysis of scientific reports, studies, and figures.

The strategy gives the direction to the necessary change process - a framework for the actions - and is briefly described. 

A further elaboration of concrete actions or measures is not included in the strategy. A detailed policy agenda for 2022-2025 and an activity plan will be drawn up in consultation with stakeholders.

Vision: In 2040, the working environment will be good for the health and well-being of workers and therefore also for the productivity, the economy and the quality of life in the Netherlands. The Netherlands offers a positive, safe and healthy workplace environment.

All workers in the Netherlands have the right to work healthily and safely. People shall not develop health problems because of their work, also after retirement. That is why good working conditions are important.

Mission of the Arbovisie 2040:

“Every death or illness due to work is one too many ('zero death'). That is why we want no more people to die due to poor working conditions and a significant reduction in the number of occupational accidents and illnesses at work. To achieve this, all employers, clients, and workers comply with occupational health and safety regulations.”

Seven main lines have been formulated for improving the safety and health of workers:

  1. More focus on prevention
  2. More possibilities for self-management for workers
  3. Structural attention to the labour factor in regular care
  4. An improvement in compliance with legislation and regulations 
  5. A flexible and adaptive occupational health and safety system and policy
  6. An improved knowledge infrastructure and implementation of knowledge in the practice
  7. An appropriate and effective division of responsibilities


Details of the strategy (activity plan)

To achieve the mission and ambition a broad range of different actions have to be put in place leading to a substantial decrease of work-related illnesses, incapacity for work and deaths. The government will make additional efforts on the following three action lines and seven associated objectives until 2040. An activity plan will follow. 

Action line 1: Prevention, design and development of occupational health and safety policy

Objective 1: Every employer in the Netherlands invests in prevention of illnesses and absences from work (and to keep them as short as possible). All employers have a risk assessment with a focus on prevention. They keep the risk assessment up to date, take control measures in collaboration with employees and implement a source-based policy.

Objective 2: The Working Conditions Act protects all workers. The (chain) responsibility of the employer or client/contractor (including self-employed persons) is appropriately fulfilled and respected. 

Objective 3: Employers spend sufficient money on the preventive use of occupational health and safety services.

To achieve the objectives, the government presents the required policy efforts (policy commitment). These are based on the advice of the SER, the analysis of trends and developments and the most important bottlenecks.

The policy goals require concrete actions in which all those involved play an active role (further details will be presented in the activity plan).

Action line 2: Implementation of occupational health and safety policy and the occupational health and safety policy cycle in the workplace (Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA))

Objective 4: The value of a healthy and safe work is part of the culture and behaviour in the workplace: clients, employers and employees recognise the importance of healthy and safe work, act accordingly and hold each other accountable. Producers and consumers also recognise the value of healthy and safe workplaces.

Objective 5: The rules and obligations that must be met are clear and applicable to all stakeholders and they act accordingly.

Action line 3: Adjusting occupational health and safety policy

Objective 6: Employers regularly adjust their preventive measures with the occupational health and safety policy cycle and regularly monitor the effectiveness of the measures they put in place (measuring, tracking, feedback). This allows employers to identify new problems in a timely manner and gain insight into opportunities for the sustainable employability of their staff. Employers have support from a well-functioning knowledge infrastructure. They organise their own feedback among themselves, through self-regulation and peer assessment.

Objective 7: The Labour Inspectorate effectively tackles employers and clients who violate the law. This requires a credible and proportionate risk-based supervision and enforcement policy that puts the desired social effect first.


“The government is responsible for establishing the occupational health and safety system and for the enforcement policy. The SZW Inspectorate (Sociale Zakenen Werkgelegenheid – Social Affairs and Employment) monitors compliance with legislation and upholds the law. The ministry's activities are mainly centered on the leaders and middle group of companies. Notorious violators who refuse to comply require a firm enforcement by the Inspectorate.” Every year the Inspectorate SZW drafts an annual plan and every few years it lays out longer-term priorities.


Actors and stakeholders

The Arbovision 2040 is based on the results of the preliminary process: analyses of the OSH situation in the Netherlands and discussions with stakeholders. The strategy was mainly developed by the SZW (Sociale Zakenen Werkgelegenheid – Social Affairs and Employment).

Arbo Catalogue[7]: Trade unions and trade associations co-operate in discussing health and safety issues. Their agreements are recorded in the Arbo Catalogue, which is a collection of measures and solutions for working conditions. The Arbo Catalogue includes examples of good practices which state practical ways in which health and safety rules can be applied.


Resources and time frame

To make a difference, new and effective measures are needed. Various solutions and goals have been drawn up by the government as well as the SER (Social Economic Council). The government has chosen to start with four themes: 

  1. The identification of possible financial incentives that could stimulate preventive action by employers. 
  2. Improving compliance with respect to the mandatory risk assessments (RI&E’s) as well as the quality of risk assessments. 
  3. To explore the possibilities of reformulating national legislation in order to enhance its comprehensibility, without losing the current level of protection).
  4. Investigate possibilities of securing chain responsibility for contractors and realise better protection of vulnerable employees in the rules (with special attention for the self-employed).

Other themes that are being addressed are:

  • Better reporting of occupational diseases and unhealthy and unsafe working conditions.
  • Improve the process of workers consultation at company level. 
  • The possibilities for integrating and/or cooperation between regular health care and occupational health care.
  • The creation of an expert office for establishing national limit values.
  • Improving knowledge infrastructure.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the instruments of self-regulation and horizontal supervision.



An evaluation has been carried out in 2019 [8],[9]

Conclusion of the evaluation:

The researchers conclude that the measures mentioned in the policy agenda have generally been implemented. According to the researchers, the level of protection for employees appears to have remained stable during this period. According to the researchers, the emphasis in the policy agenda was on efficiency and allocation of responsibilities. The policy agenda was determined on the one hand by the idea of self-regulation and goal management and on the other hand by major budget cuts. In their report, the researchers provide an overall recognisable picture of the developments in the period studied.

The fact that despite all efforts, 4,100 people still die every year and other people become ill as a result of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, makes it necessary to review current policy. The challenge is, how to achieve a better social outcome in collaboration with all responsible parties in occupational health and safety policy.


Indicators for the years 

No indicators identified.


Relationship to EU Strategic Framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027

Relations to the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027 can be found in all Action lines, for example: 

Key objective 1 of the EU Framework (Anticipating and managing change) is covered in Action line 2 “Implementation of occupational health and safety policy and the occupational health and safety policy cycle in the workplace” and in Action line 3 “Adjusting occupational health and safety policy”.

Key objective 2 of the EU Framework (Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents) is covered in Action line 1 “Prevention, design and development of occupational health and safety policy” and its three corresponding objectives.

Vision Zero is explicit mentioned in the Arbovisie 2040: Zero Death by Accidents & Chemicals“

Key objective 3 of the EU Framework (Increasing preparedness – responding rapidly to threats) is covered by Action line 3 “Adjusting occupational health and safety policy”, Objective 6: […] Employers regularly adjust their preventive measures with the occupational health and safety policy cycle ("prevention cycle") and regular monitoring (measuring, tracking, feedback). This allows employers to identify new problems in a timely manner […].






[1] Arbeidsomstandighedenwet, geldend van 20-06-2023. Available at:

[2] Arbeidsomstandighedenbesluit, geldend van 01-01-2024. Available at:

[3] Arbeidsomstandighedenregeling, geldend van 19-04-2024. Available at:

[4] Ministerie von Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (SZW), Arbovisie 2040: De trend gekeerd “Samenwerken aan een gezond en veilig werkend Nederland”, 2023. Available at: (retrieved on 28.01.2024)

[5] Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, Visie en strategie gezond en veilig werken. Available at : (retrieved on 28.01.2024)

[6] Dutch vision and strategy for occupational safety and health, 2016. Available at: (retrieved on 28.01.2024)

[7] Nederlands Arbeidsinspectie, “Arbocatalogus”. Available at: (retrieved on 28.01.2024)

[8] Debeleidsonderzoekers, „Gezond en veilig werken - Onderzoek naar het stelsel voor gezond en veilig werken sinds de Beleidsagenda 2012“, December 2019.  Available at: (retrieved 31.01.2024)

[9] Ministerie von Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid, „Kamerbrief evaluatie arbobeleidsagenda 2012 en Arbovisie2040“, 17.February 2020. Available at: (retrieved 31.01.2024)

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