OHS Catalogue of Dangerous Substances

What is an OHS catalogue?

Together with the other UMCs and employee organisations, your UMC has compiled various OHS catalogues. An OHS catalogue describes measures for the principal occupational health and safety risks at the UMCs, including hazardous substances. The aim is to work in a safe and healthy manner.

With the OHS catalogue, the UMCs are fleshing out the general regulations set by the government. If you want to know exactly whether a regulation on dangerous substances, for example, is good practice or is informed by a statutory standard, you can find this in the formal OHS Catalogue text.

You can download the complete text of the OHS Catalogue of Dangerous Substances as a pdf.

Introduction to OHS Catalogue

The document Introduction to OHS Catalogue contains the definitions of the subjects and the regulations that must be described in an OHS Catalogue. The UMCs have decided that a subcatalogue will describe the following topics:

the risk, the target groups, the statutory framework and the procedure, the level of ambition of the UMCs, the measures and resources at the UMCs, the products that can be used, the desired developments, keeping the OHS Catalogue up to date and finally the appendices.

You can download the complete text of the Introduction to OHS Catalogue as pdf.


Hospitals make extensive use of hazardous substances(1) to which staff can be exposed, which may cause immediate injury or long-term health damage.

Many regulations are aimed at working with a limited number of hazardous substances, which are often used in large quantities. The risk associated with dangerous substances at the UMCs is mainly based on a large variety of substances in small quantities. In addition to being explosive and flammable, these substances sometimes have carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic or extremely toxic properties. Every employee must therefore be aware of the hazards associated with the substances they may come into contact with.

The development of a UMC-specific database of dangerous substances with safety information of more than 5,000 substances has therefore been an important step in the Working Conditions Covenant. The database fits in very well with the provision of information on the risks of dangerous substances used at the UMCs. The drafted guideline 'Working safely with dangerous substances' (2) outlines the general terms and conditions under which staff are allowed to work with dangerous substances at the UMC and which measures management should take.

(1) Working with medicines is beyond the scope of this chapter of the OHS Catalogue.

(2) The guideline has been updated and digitised on the Dokterhoe.nl website.

Target groups

The dangerous substances database, the guideline on working safely with dangerous substances and the information products have been developed for the following target groups:

  • The managers (line management);
  • Staff (of the laboratories, the care sector, the facility services);
  • Occupational health and safety professionals (including prevention staff and emergency response staff);
  • The students and third parties(1) working within a UMC.

(1) For external staff (third parties) it is important whether they have access to this OHS Catalogue. If this is not the case (in the event of short-term contracts or language barriers), the employment agency and the hiring party will have to agree on arrangements about the duty of care in the handling of dangerous substances.

The guideline and information products have been updated and digitised on the website Dokterhoe.nl.

Statutory framework

The Working Conditions Decree, particularly Chapter 4 (see Appendix), describes how to deal with dangerous substances in general and with carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances in particular. These provisions relate to topics such as:

  • The employer's duty of care;
  • In particular, the specific attention to the risk assessment in which the dangerous substances must be identified;
  • The limits;
  • Insofar as available, these are included in a ministerial regulation;
  • Limiting exposure by taking measures;
  • This is in line with the state of the art and the occupational hygiene strategy;
  • Hygiene measures;
  • Special groups of staff, for example pregnant women;
  • Medical research;
  • Information and training.

Level of ambition

Staff of the UMCs who work with dangerous substances or can come into contact with them are aware of this. They can check:

1. To which substances they are exposed;

2. What risks these substances pose;

3. What measures should be taken to prevent or minimise exposure to these substances.

Explanatory notes
The UMCs seek to raise awareness among staff who work with dangerous substances by continuing to draw the attention of the target groups to the information products from the Working Conditions Covenant, such as under 2. (in the OHS Catalogue). <<link invoegen

Measures and resources at UMCs

The key measures and resources with which to fulfil the ambitions and statutory target requirements are:

1. Process requirements

All UMCs have a policy in place on how to work safely with dangerous substances, comprising:

  • An information system for dangerous substances;
  • A register for dangerous substances;
  • Information and instruction for (new) staff about working safely with dangerous substances*.

* The UMC ensures that arrangements are made with external companies about the information and instruction of their staff with respect to working safely with biological agents.

2. Resource requirements

  1. Each UMC has a register containing the dangerous substances at the relevant UMC. Each UMC determines how dangerous substances are registered. In addition to the name and identification data of a substance, the ordering department is to be mentioned in any event. The general quantities of a substance in stock are known.
  2. The staff at all UMCs have the same, validated safety information at their disposal about the dangerous substances present. The joint information system is created by using a central database for dangerous substances containing a large number of substances used at the eight UMCs. The database is updated twice a year. This data can be presented in two ways. By means of the document distribution system (DDS), which can be accessed by all staff via the Internet and/or via a local dangerous substances registration system.
  3. The measures described in the 'Working safely with dangerous substances for managers' guideline are implemented at every UMC, thus safeguarding that management is aware of the measures it must take when working with hazardous substances.
  4. The database is also available to students and guest staff.
  5. In their dangerous substances policy, the UMCs use the 'Working safely with dangerous substances for managers' guideline to inform line management and staff of the safety regulations.
  6. The OMCs use the information products of the Working Conditions Covenant or equivalent products in information and instruction programmes.

3. Good practices

  • The workplace instruction cards serve as bespoke instructions for working with dangerous substances. These cards are tailored to the work situation in laboratories, nursing wards and facility services and are available in both Dutch and English.

The Manager Checklist helps to ensure that measures are taken.


The following products, developed on the basis of the Working Conditions Covenant, are available:

  • The NFU dangerous substances database with validated safety data sheets and workplace instruction cards in two languages;
  • The CD-ROM with substance data from the database for connection to a registration system;
  • The website with the Document Distribution System (DDS);
  • The checklist for managers;
  • Question and answer folder, care edition version;
  • Question and answer folder, facility service version;
  • Question and answer folder, laboratory edition version;
  • The poster with hazard symbols and R and S phrases;
  • The breast pocket card.

The question and answer folders have been merged and are displayed digitally.
See the section: What can you do? – Frequently asked questions.

The poster with hazard symbols and R and S phrases has been revised. The poster has been reissued in a Dutch and an English version with hazard pictograms and H and P phrases.


The register and the database enable the UMCs to fulfil the following obligations under the Working Conditions Decree:

  • Article 4.2(2)
  • Article 4.2(5a)
  • Article 4.2(1)
  • Article 4.2(5b)
  • Article 4.2a(a)
  • Article 4.13(b)

Abbreviations used:

  • UMC University Medical Centre
  • ER Emergency Response
  • DDS Document distribution system
  • NFU   Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres
  • WIC Workplace Instruction Card
  • R phrase Risk phase (risk warning phrase)
  • S phrase Safety phrase (safety recommendation)
  • GHS Globally Harmonized System
  • SZW Social Affairs and Employment (Ministry)
  • CMR Carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic substances
  • RA Risk assessment
  • LOAZ National Consultative Committee of University Hospitals

You can download the complete text of the Appendix to the OHS Catalogue of Dangerous Substances as a pdf.