Other pages on this website list the laws and regulations which apply to the work performed within the confines of the university. However, regulations in and of themselves have little impact if nobody checks whether they are complied with.
This monitoring task falls to the relevant competent authority appointed in the relevant law. This monitoring process is referred to as ‘enforcement’.
This text explains how enforcement is organised in the various laws and regulations. Incidentally, the company, or in this case the university, is legally responsible for doing everything in its power to ensure that its employees and students respect these rules. This is referred to as the ‘duty of care’ of the university. The university safeguards this duty of care both in the decentralised and in the central policy cycle.
Monitoring of compliance with the Working Conditions Act is conducted by the Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) The HSI is free to conduct an inspection within any organisation or company at any time. The HSI also visits a company when a serious accident has occurred, and initiates an investigation into the cause of the accident.
If the inspection reveals a violation of the Health and Safety Act, the HSI can take a number of steps, depending on the severity of the violation. In cases of less severe violation, the HSI sends a warning to the employer, in our case the Executive Board. After some time, the HSI conducts a further inspection to check whether the violation has been remedied. If this is not (or not sufficiently) the case in the HSI’s opinion, the employer is ordered to pay a fine. If the employer is of the opinion that the fine was unwarranted, he or she can submit an objection against this fine. On the basis of the findings of the HSI and the defence submitted by the employer, a fine report is formulated and sent to a central office, with a copy to the employer. This office takes the final decision regarding whether an administrative penalty must be imposed. The decision regarding the fine is then sent to the employer within eight weeks. The employer can submit an objection against the fine in accordance with administrative law, i.e. to the Minister, the Administrative Court and the Council of State. The employer can also reach an amicable settlement with the central office. This is clearly a lengthy procedure; the period between the moment when the Health and Safety Inspectorate uncovers a violation and the imposition of a fine can last as long as a few months.
If the Health and Safety Inspectorate discovers a severe violation of the Working Conditions Act, it can immediately draw up a fine report without prior warning, or it can draw up an official report, following which the violation will be handled under criminal law.
In the context of this law, the Leiden Municipality is considered to be the competent authority. At the request of the Leiden Municipality, the West Holland Environment Service inspects a number of university buildings every year. The frequency of these inspections depends on the work activities performed in the buildings in question. For example, a (chemical) laboratory will be inspected every year, but an office might only be inspected once every three or even every five years.
If the inspection reveals a breach of the law or the environmental license requirements, the Environmental Service informs the Executive Board of this fact in writing. After a few weeks, the building is once again inspected to see whether the violations have been remedied. If not, a written warning is sent to the Executive Board which specifies the fine or penalty which will be imposed if the violation is not remedied before a certain date. If the fine or penalty is really imposed, which has so far never yet happened at our university, the company can submit an appeal under administrative law.