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The merger of two Social Security institutions, the Occupational Injuries Fund (FAT) and the Occupational Diseases Fund (FMP), will create Fedris, the federal agency for occupational risks. It will be effective on 1 January 2017. Fedris will also take over the duties of the Asbestos Fund from April 2017.
The operation reflects the government’s will to optimize the functioning of the state, explained the Minister of Health, Maggie De Block. The new agency will be devoted to the risks that workers incur as a result of their occupational activity and will be more oriented toward expert appraisal, prevention and socio-professional integration. It will deliver opinions to the Commission for reform of the occupational diseases system which is to adapt the welfare system to the realities of the 21st century, and in particular the phenomena of “burn-out” and “bore-out“. This commission’s report is expected by the end of 2017.
The merger will result in no staff layoffs, but savings will be made on operating costs and one of the buildings which houses one of the two institutions will be sold. Fedris will have 589 personnel at the start.
Belgium is currently one of the rare European countries in which the management of occupational injuries is entrusted to private firms and the management of occupational diseases to a public organization. The FMP deals mainly with occupational disease prevention and compensation for the damage caused by such diseases. The FAT acts as a guarantee fund for victims and their legal beneficiaries. It can award the compensation provided for by the law on occupational injuries when the employer has not subscribed to an insurance contract, or when the insurer does not meet its obligations.