The construction industry

Working in construction has risks such as falling from heights, physical stress and exposure to hazardous substances. Underpayment and illegal employment also exist in construction. Construction sites are complex workplaces where multiple companies and self-employed persons perform work at the same time.

The BES Occupational Safety Act (Arbeidsveiligheidswet BES) and other regulations impose obligations on employers and employees. The purpose of these obligations is to increase safety in the construction industry and to prevent accidents and physical injury. 

Here you can read about the main obligations for employers and employees in construction.
 

1. Looking out for one another

In order to work safely, looking out for one another comes first. This also means that you should consider in advance how work can be performed safely. First you should discuss the work with each other, inform one another and only after that you set to work. Not only for the board of directors and management of the company this is something important to do. The construction worker on the scaffolding should also constantly check whether they and their colleagues can work safely before the execution of work can start.

1. Looking out for one another

2. Communicate requirements and monitor them

Management notifies the employees of the general requirements and ensures that these requirements are met. This means that the employees are informed about the risks and receive instructions about the measures to be taken. In addition, it should be ensured that work is performed safely in the prescribed manner.

Employees in construction should at least have knowledge of:
(1)  how the construction site should be protected from the risk of falling.
(2)  why and when certain personal protective equipment should be worn.
(3)  what measures exist and should be taken to safeguard hygiene on the construction site.

2. Communicate requirements and monitor them

3. Necessity of scaffolding

Each workplace higher than 2.5 metres should be protected from falling from heights. Guard rails comprise an upper rail at 90 centimetres, an intermediate rail halfway and a toe board.

3. Necessity of scaffolding

4. Anchoring of scaffolding

Scaffolding should be anchored adequately to the structure. Scaffoldings are placed at an appropriate distance from the structure. This means that the space between the structure and scaffolding does not exceed 35 centimetres.

4. Anchoring of scaffolding

5. Safely install rails, fences and scaffoldings

The installation of rails, fences and scaffoldings should be executed safely. This means that employees should wear harnesses when installing rails, fences and scaffoldings.

5. Safely install rails, fences and scaffoldings

6. Periodic inspection of the scaffoldings

Scaffoldings should be inspected at least once a week and always after bad weather. Furthermore, scaffoldings should be inspected by a competent person prior to using them.

6. Periodic inspection of the scaffoldings

7. Fencing openings

Floor openings should either be fenced or covered. Stairwells should be fitted with rails and other safety measures where necessary.

7. Fencing openings

8. Protective equipment

The employer should provide proper protective equipment to employees. In construction this regards hearing protection, safety boots with a steel midsole and a hard hat. If necessary, gloves and respiratory protective equipment when it concerns substances which affect the hands and lungs.

8. Protective equipment

9. First aid

Effective means to provide first aid should be available where work is performed. At least one first-aid kit should be available on the construction site to provide first aid.

9. First aid

10. Promotion of hygiene

Garbage should be removed as soon as possible and effectively. Extra attention should be paid to garbage in which water can collect where mosquitoes can breed because they spread the viral diseases Dengue and Chikungunya. Each construction site should have sufficient private toilets and urinals. One private toilet should suffice for up to ten employees, provided that it can also be used as a urinal.

10. Promotion of hygiene

11. Physical stress

Physical stress is by far the most important cause of occupational disability in construction. The BES Occupational Safety Act does not provide for regulations regarding physical stress. The Labour Inspection does not have the authority to take imperative and enforcement action in this matter. The Labour Inspection will however offer advice on any points of improvement following inspections.

The following measures can reduce physical stress:

  1. Avoid or restrict lifting weights exceeding 25 kilograms;
  2. Avoid or restrict stooping down low;
  3. Avoid or restrict reaching up high.
11. Physical stress

12. Working hours/overtime

  • The working hours do not exceed 40 hours a week, calculated over a period of four weeks. The working hours should never exceed ten hours a day.
  • For the employee who works according to a duty roster (on shift duty), the working hours are 45 hours a week at the most, calculated over a period of four weeks. The working hours should never exceed ten hours a day.
  • The employee receives an overtime pay per hour of at least 50 percent of their hourly wage, in addition to their full hourly wage, as compensation for the overtime they worked. In addition to the overtime pay, an employee who does not perform work according to a duty roster should also receive an overtime pay of:
    1. at least 25 percent of their hourly wage, if they work overtime during their rest break;
    2. at least 50 percent of their hourly wage, if they work overtime on their rest day;
    3. at least 100 percent of their hourly wage, if they work overtime on a public holiday.

13. Minimum wage

All employees are entitled to the minimum hourly wage. The amounts for the minimum hourly wage are available here: Minimum wage table

14. Work performed by foreign nationals

It is prohibited for an employer to have a foreign national perform work without a valid work permit. On request, the work permit should be presented promptly to the inspectors of the Labour Inspection.

15. Slippery floors/clean floors

A workroom should be equipped with appropriate floors. In a workroom where the work requires the use of a considerable amount of water, the floor must allow adequate surface drainage. The floor of a workroom should be scrubbed and mopped until it is properly clean.

16. Hazardous substances/gas cylinders

The development and spread of hazardous or unpleasant fumes, gasses or substances in an area where employees must work or be present, should be prevented. Where this is not possible or it is not possible to an adequate degree, effective means must have been used to purge those fumes, gasses or substances from the area or to protect the staff.

Enforcement
The Labour Inspection monitors the observance of various labour protection laws. This concerns laws such as: (1) the BES Occupational Safety Act, (2) the BES 2000 Labour Code (Arbeidswet 2000 BES), (3) the Minimum Wage Act (Wet minimumloon) and (4) the BES Labour Law Foreigners (Wet arbeid vreemdelingen). When the rules are not observed, the inspector has far-reaching powers to take enforcement action. The inspector may issue an official warning or an order to suspend work or impose a directive. Should this fail to result in observance of the rules, the inspector may draw up an official report.

Where can employers and employees go if they have questions?

If you have a question for the Labour Inspection or you wish to file a complaint about your working conditions, you may contact the Labour Inspection via arbeidsinspectie@RijksdienstCN.com or by telephone via +599 715 8888.

For questions about salary and working hours, or for mediation in an employment dispute, you may contact the Labour Affairs department. You can send them an e-mail via arbeidszaken@RijksdienstCN.com, call them via 715-8888, or pay them a visit during consultation hours. 

Do you as an employer have a question about work permits? Then please contact the IND service counter or send an e-mail to twv@rijksdienstcn.com.