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Seminar occupational disease: the tip of the iceberg?
12 June 2017
On 8 June 2017 Van Ameyde – in cooperation with Dutch law firms Van Traa and Stadermann Luiten – organised a seminar on occupational disease. Occupational disease concerns illness or disorders largely attributable to labour or labour conditions.
In the Netherlands occupational disease comes within the scope of liability law. Aspects of litigation, such as proportional liability and the employer’s duty of care to their employees were outlined. In addition, the question of potential alternatives to liability law was raised. Employers could, for instance, take out insurance on behalf of employees. In a climate in which companies are ‘battling’ for talents, this could boost the employer’s attractiveness in a competitive labour market.

In view of the time that elapses before certain diseases manifest themselves, the present figures presumably only represent the tip of the iceberg. Another issue is determination of the extent to which certain disorders are work-related. Should, for instance, mobile phone radiation indeed prove harmful to our health, would the use of a company phone mean that the ensuing health problems are work-related and if so, to what extent? After all, a private mobile phone is something most people cannot do without. Whereas disorders caused by Chromium 6 exposure are clearly attributable to working conditions, but can the same be said for exposure to nano particles and cosmic clouds (cosmic radiation during flying)? In addition, asbestos will continue to be a substantial contributor to occupational disease for the foreseeable future. Although processing has been curbed, asbestos is still used in cars and buildings.

Van Ameyde will initiate a knowledge platform on occupational disease. The purpose is to initiate dialogue among all parties concerned, ranging from employers and employees to politics, insurers and science. Such dialogue should result in the development of more just solutions for victims and liable parties alike.
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