Occupational diseases and policy

Although there are different definitions, it is generally accepted that occupational diseases are, as the term indicates, diseases that arise from the practice of a certain profession. These diseases are caused by some circumstance during work and would not have occurred if the work had not been carried out. Unfortunately, many suffer from some form of occupational disease, but an organization like the NCvB does everything it can to reduce this in the future, which starts with identifying and registering occupational diseases.

Report occupational diseases to NCvB

Every year, several tens of thousands of occupational diseases are reported to the NCvB (Dutch Center for Occupational Diseases), but it is estimated that a much larger number of occupational diseases occur than these reports. Reporting occupational diseases to the NCvB has been mandatory since 1999, but the number of reports appears to be only the tip of the iceberg. Initiatives by the ministry and the occupational health and safety services and pointing out the obligation should make the number of reports more realistic. Moreover, doctors can easily report occupational diseases digitally. The more doctors do this, the more complete the overview and new occupational diseases can also be detected.

Financial damage in the event of incapacity for work due to occupational diseases

In addition to much personal suffering, occupational diseases are also associated with high social costs, while many cases of illness could have been prevented through good prevention and care. The financial damage to victims of occupational diseases can also be great due to disability. Due to the stricter rules regarding disability, it can be expected that the number of claims for financial compensation submitted to employers will increase.

Types of disorders

Occupational diseases include work-related diseases that relate to:

  • The locomotor system
  • Mental disorders
  • The skin
  • The respiratory tract
  • Hearing disorders
  • The nervous system
  • Infections

Movement-related diseases and hearing disorders are among the most commonly reported occupational diseases.

Division into three groups

Not everyone who has contracted an illness can clearly indicate that the illness is work-related. Based on the extent to which a connection can be made with work, occupational diseases can be divided into three groups.

  1. Classical occupational diseases: This includes those diseases for which it can be clearly indicated that they originated from work. Classic occupational diseases include lung cancer or peritoneal cancer caused by asbestos and asthma caused by certain substances that have been worked with.
  2. Work-related conditions: These are conditions for which a connection with work can be established, but where other causes can also have an influence. Examples of this are stress and back problems, where private circumstances can also play a role.
  3. Other conditions: These conditions cannot be clearly linked to work, but it is noted that they occur more often in certain professions. Examples include heart disease and vascular disease in shift workers.


New occupational diseases

New diseases continue to be added to the list of occupational diseases. Usually these are actually pre-existing diseases, but they are considered new because they have arisen due to changes in working conditions. New occupational diseases include, for example, conditions involving sensory overload in combination with psychological overload caused by increased work pressure.

Dutch Center for Occupational Diseases

The NCvB is a national institute for occupational health and safety professionals (mainly company doctors), but policymakers, government, employers and employees can also use the NCvB.
The tasks of the NCvB are:

  • Identifying and registering occupational diseases.
  • Providing information with figures, documentation, diagnostics, signals and news.
  • Provide information about professions, industries and risk factors.
  • Receipt of reports of occupational diseases by company doctors and occupational health and safety services.

The NCvB wants to make knowledge about occupational diseases accessible to the target groups through the website www.beroepsverzekeringen.nl with information about occupational diseases and guidelines. Questions can also be asked via a helpdesk and information and further training are provided. A newsletter is published every quarter as well as publications in various magazines.

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