Exposure to harmful substances is one of the main causes when it comes to health-related damage at work. This was mentioned in a report that was published by the Netherlands Labour Authority on 10 May 2023.
According to this report, there are 4000 premature deaths in the Netherlands each year due to unhealthy working conditions. Around 9 people die prematurely every day because they have been exposed to harmful substances at their place of work. This is mainly caused by carcinogenic substances and substances that cause diseases in the respiratory passages.
Besides premature death, unhealthy working conditions also cause a reduction in the quality of life. This is expressed by the number of lost life years. Each year, an estimated 96,000 healthy life years are lost because of exposure to harmful substances. In total, unhealthy activities account for 4.6% of all illnesses within (the Dutch) society. After smoking and obesity, this is the main cause for the loss of healthy life years.
Naturally, all this loss of quality and quantity in the working population also leads to high societal costs, which are estimated to be €10 billion per year.
The biggest obstacle is that the health effects of harmful substances tend to be invisible and many effects only occur after a few years. This means the issue is often not given enough attention. And little is also being done to prevent such health effects being encountered, for example, by offering a periodic occupational health examination.
As a result, monitoring the safe use of harmful substances will continue to be an important area of focus for the Netherlands Labour Authority in the coming years.
In addition, the report explains that a healthy working environment also improves job satisfaction, reduces absenteeism, increases deployability and boosts productivity.
So seasons enough for companies to adopt a proactive approach on this front! Would you like to know how you can manage the health risks associated with exposure to harmful substances in your company? Then please feel free to contact us!
 Netherlands Labour Authority (2023). The state of healthy work Available via https://www.nlarbeidsinspectie.nl/publicaties/rapporten/2023/05/10/staat-van-gezond-werk, consulted on 24 May 2023
 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY’s)
 Netherlands Labour Authority (2023). Multi-year plan 2023-2026. Available via https://www.nlarbeidsinspectie.nl/publicaties/jaarplannen/2022/11/25/meerjarenplan-2023-2026, consulted on 24 May 2023