Self-assessment tool for working with hazardous substances

Employers are often motivated to minimise the exposure of their employees to hazardous substances, but often don’t know where to start. Therefore, the Dutch Labour Inspectorate has developed an assessment tool for employers to check whether their company works in a safe and healthy manner with hazardous substances and to facilitate follow-up actions The tool is available in both English and Dutch.

Setting and problem

Employers must ensure that the exposure level of employees to hazardous substances, of which carcinogenic and mutagenic substances form a subgroup, is below a certain threshold. Ideally, the exposure should be as low as possible to minimise the incidence of work-related cancer. A problem experienced by companies, however, is that they do not know what to do. Where does one begin?


A good point of departure is the self-assessment tool for working with hazardous substances. This tool guides employers in the self-assessment process and is user-friendly. It goes through the process step by step and indicates which action points a company needs to undertake. Furthermore, it provides useful links at each step, for instance to lists with carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances or to websites where limit values are explained. The Inspectorate does not have access to the information provided by the users. This tool makes it possible for employers to easily check and improve the way they are working with hazardous substances and to contribute to a safe and healthy working environment.


  • Minimal 25% companies working with dangerous substances are acquainted with the self-assessment tool and use it frequently.
  • Best practices are published by the labour inspectorate on

Lessons learned

  • This tool clarified follow-up actions of companies in order to work safely with dangerous substances. It shows what to do, not how.
  • Alignment among companies, sector organisations and the labour inspection on dangerous substances is needed. This can be reached with dialogue among the different stakeholders.
  • The methodology of the self-inspection is too complex for small enterprises, rendering good practices extra valuable for this target group.
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Diana Martens
Labour Inspectorate
The Netherlands
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