The Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB) started in 1946 as a separate section of the Association of Public Health and was officially founded in 1953. Nowadays about 90% of the occupational physicians in The Netherlands , i.c. more than 2000, is NVAB-member. One of NVAB’s goals is enhancement of the scientific basis of occupational health practice and improvement of the professional quality of occupational physicians. One of the tools in a quality-improving strategy is the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Therefore in 1998, the NVAB started a programme for the development and implementation of evidence-based practice guidelines. To professionalize these activities, NVAB set up a Centre of Excellence in 2003.

Centre of Excellence
One of our main tasks is to develop evidence based practice guidelines in occupational health. In addition to this, NVAB is also involved in the development and implementation of multidisciplinary clinical guidelines for the integration of work-related aspects. Another important issue in NVAB’s quality policy is medical audit. Development and organization of medical audits is a key activity of NVAB’s Centre of Excellence.


The Netherlands have a population of 16.5 million people. The active working population is approx. 7 million people. There are approx. 60000 doctors in the Netherlands and 2100 occupational physicians of whom 90 % is a member of the society. There is a growing number of self employed occupational physicians. 190 is a member of an organisation of self employed OPs.

OPs can be part of a private occupational health service, an in-house company service or can work as self employed physicians.


There is a 4 year postgraduate training for occupational physicians. After that OPs have to fulfil their CPD and CME obligations to keep their registration of 5 years. (credit system)


In the Netherlands OPs play an important role in the management of absence behaviour. Maintaining functional capacity of employees is of paramount importance in this respect.

Another important task is the execution of health surveillance programmes, based on risk assessment and evaluation.

Finally, the occupational physician has an important role in prevention. Due to time spent on managing absenteeism insufficient attention can be given to prevention.

Hot topics

  1. lack of independent position due to priority on the management of absence behaviour
  2. Too little time spent on prevention
  3. Companies find other programmes to improve health (without OP)

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Communication: Journal of occupational and insurance medicine and newsletter on website

Presentation OHS Netherland 2010