In the Netherlands, it is the employer and employees within a company who have primary responsibility for occupational health and safety policy. They are required to reach agreement on working conditions and are supported by trade unions and the trade association for the sector in drafting appropriate occupational health and safety measures. Trade associations and trade unions also discuss health and safety with each other. They can lay down the agreements they have concluded in the ‘Arbo (OSH) Catalogue’: a collection of measures and solutions for working conditions in the relevant industry. Companies and employees select the measures and solutions that are relevant for their industry or sector. The Arbo Catalogue includes examples of ‘good practices’, which are ways in which the industry can comply with the rules in a practical manner. The Arbo Catalogue is checked by the Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA): if an employer then applies the measures from the Arbo Catalogue, he/she will know that this at least satisfies the statutory requirements. However, an employer is always allowed to apply a measure other than the one indicated in the Arbo Catalogue, but the employer does have to demonstrate in that case that the measure selected by him/her is just as good as the measure from the Arbo Catalogue.
The government (the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment) is allowing companies greater leeway to customise the way they seek to promote good working conditions. All rules derive from the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet), the Working Conditions Decree (Arbobesluit) or the Working Conditions Regulations (Arboregeling) (fulltext available). The Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA) is responsible for enforcing the legislation. OSH catalogues play an important role regarding enforcement.
The Focal Point is the place where a great deal of knowledge, information and experience comes together. Representatives of employers' organisations and trades unions work together there to make information on safety and health at work coming from Europe accessible and comprehensible to all. The Dutch Focal Point is managed by TNO.
You can find more detailed information about the Dutch occupational health and safety system, in English and in Dutch, on the website of the Dutch Focal Point.