Company doctors accused of covering up work-related illness

Every year about 70 percent of company doctors do not report work-related illnesses. Almost 50 percent of company doctors have not reported a single occupational disease in he last 10 years, the Parool reports.

It is important to know about work related illnesses so that action can be taken to prevent them. For example, hearing damage can easily be prevented by wearing ear protection.

The Dutch Center for Occupational Diseases annually sets up a list of occupational diseases such as arc eye, baker's asthma and asbestos cancer. But the center never receives more than 7 thousand reports, while the reports are supposed to number in the tens of thousands.

According to the Parool, there are several reasons that company doctors do not report occupational diseases. Firstly they have to do it in their own time, and therefore unpaid. Many doctors also do not see the point of the list as they themselves have a reasonable overview of the occupational diseases that occur in their practice. Some company doctors are uncertain about the legal consequences of a report, for example an employee could claim compensation from the boss. FNV trade union even thinks that some doctors do not report occupational diseases because they are afraid of losing their contract if they give negative reports.

Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs has acknowledged the problem and announced that the base contract between an employer and company doctor must state that the doctor will report occupational diseases. "The inspection must be able to impose fines if no contract has been concluded or if the contract contains no agreements on reporting", Asscher said.

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