This is the belief of a research worker from Amsterdam University, Wim Eshuis, who recently worked on a PhD thesis entitled “Compensation for employees, a major project: toward a new approach to damage and the prevention of occupational injuries and diseases in enterprises”. According to him, although at present 25,000 OI/OD victims sustain financial damage, only 4,000 can claim any compensation. This is partly due to the fact that there has no longer been any specific occupational health and safety insurance since 1966 and victims are entitled to compensation only under the disease and disability insurance part of the social security system.
To obtain compensation for the financial loss due to their OI/OD, employees must sue their employer for liability, which in practice represents a real barrier. Employees are afraid of losing their job and fear the slow pace of legal proceedings. Very often they claim no compensation, or do so only after being dismissed or after having obtained compensation for a work disability relating to the disease. That is why patient organizations, trade unions and the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment call for the restoration of a specific system of compensation for employees in the event of OIs/ODs.
To conclude his thesis, the researcher considers that a more significant role should be given to certain players, in particular OH&S personnel and the employees, regarding the prevention and evaluation of OIs/ODs. Finally, Wim Eshuis calls for the setting up of a specific group insurance or for the insertion of a special provision in collective labour agreements, providing for the employee’s right to compensation – without having to come into conflict with his (her) employer for this purpose – and faster payment of said compensation: “This measure takes the victims into consideration while promoting their rehabilitation. Because dragged-out litigation is not good for health”.