In the Netherlands, there is limited space available for living and working. People want a healthy and safe environment to live in, and businesses want to retain space for economic growth. The ongoing search for making optimum use of the limited land available is the focus of environmental and industrial safety. 

The department ‘Environmental and industrial safety’ of RIVM is the Dutch knowledge and research centre on the study of the risks associated with the use and transport of dangerous goods, risks arising from fire- and explosion hazards and the release of toxic gases. Other areas of expertise include the safety of installations and facilities, and the safety of new and rapidly emerging technologies. The environmental safety policy provides the framework with which an area can be designed in such a way that people who live or work there are sufficiently protected in the event of accidents involving dangerous goods. The focus here is on the calculated risks, which are at times associated with major uncertainties, as well as the perceived risks. In the Netherlands the term ‘externe veiligheid’ (Engl.: external safety) is commonly used to describe this field of expertise.

Activities of the RIVM in the field of environmental and industrial safety include:

  • Provide advice on the design of a safe work and living environment to spatial planners and local government bodies and policy and implementation based on risk analysis in relation to accidents with hazardous substances.
  • Manage and develop the computational methods and programs (such as Safeti-NL) used to carry out risk calculations for hazardous substances and offer support to users via workshops and helpdesks.
  • Establish, share and maintain knowledge and insights in collaboration with government bodies on both national and local level, industry, consultancies, universities and other public institutes.
  • Initiate and promote collaboration on national and international level in knowledge networks and working groups.