Risk communication

Following the fireworks disaster in Enschede in 2000 the government of the time decided that a better survey was required of the risks of accidents with hazardous substances and that everyone in the Netherlands should be informed about these risks in their own residential environment.

The chance of a major disaster actually occurring is extremely small if precautionary measures are taken. However, you cannot predict in advance where a certain danger might be. For example, in the event of the release of a noxious gas, the danger area is dependent on weather conditions. After all, the wind will blow the noxious substances in a certain direction. For that reason experts are cautious when it comes to estimating the danger area.

Types of disasters

Eighteen types of disaster have been defined. Thirteen of these are linked to a specific location. These are shown on the risk map: accidents with hazardous substances, accidents during the transportation of hazardous substances, aviation accidents, nuclear accidents, accidents on the water, traffic accidents on land, accidents in a tunnel, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, disruption of public order and widespread panic, fire in large buildings and the collapse of large buildings.

The five types of disasters which are not displayed on the map are threats to public health (for example due to contaminated food), epidemics, extreme weather conditions, the failure of utilities and a disaster somewhere else.

The Regional Risk Profile Guidance Document [Handreiking Regionaal Risicoprofiel] (2009) of the Safety Regions uses a different classification of disasters. Instead of eighteen types of disaster the Guidance Document defines seven types of crises. However, this modification has not yet been implemented in the Risk Map.

edited February 21th 2018

Safety risk

In contrast to the consequences of other types of environmental exposure, the safety risk is mainly expressed as the number of fatalities due to an incident. This means fatalities in the immediate surroundings as a direct consequence of the incident. The higher the number of deaths, the greater the social disruption, suffering and emotions. Policy also includes standards based purely on the number of deaths, although other health effects are possible, such as concern among the population about risks.

Risk perception

Often there is a difference between an actual risk and society's perception of a risk. Characteristics of risks which cause concern among citizens are the possible large-scale damage, the large number of injuries and fatalities, the possible seriousness of an event, the (un)familiarity with the risk, the lack of control and the (in)voluntariness of exposure.

Although the chance of being a victim of a disaster in the Netherlands is extremely small, the social fear of a disaster is nevertheless considerable. The perception of a risk does not, therefore, always correspond to the actual risk. Incidents and disasters have a major influence on the perception and acceptance of risks.

edited February 22th 2018


The government is obliged to provide information about possible risks. That is why there is a description of what these risks exactly are, which dangers you could face and which protection is possible in the event of a calamity. You can find all these dangers in the form of maps and texts on the risk map.

Of course, the government is also pursuing a policy to tackle the risks for the environment associated with an airport, a company or the transportation of hazardous substances. This policy falls under the heading 'external safety'. A number of laws and regulations have been drawn up for this external safety:

Provincial risk map regulation

A ministerial regulation includes more detailed, generally binding rules for the risk maps. It describes which vulnerable premises and risky situations have to be shown on the risk map. Rules have also been included for the production, management and design of the risk map, so that the risk maps of all the provincial governments have a uniform appearance and work in the same way. The provincial governments make and manage the risk maps for the residents. The data comes from municipalities, state and the provincial governments themselves. In order to continue developing the risk map, the provincial governments are cooperating with municipalities, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.

External Security Registration Decision [Registratiebesluit Externe Veiligheid]

The External Security Registration Decision obliges the government to register risk situations relating to hazardous substances.

The External Security Registration Decision covers companies with hazardous substances which can have a major impact on the environment if released during an accident. The companies in question are primarily those for which the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has drawn up specific safety regulations. The Provincial risk map regulation stipulates that companies which have a smaller impact on the environment in the event of an accident with hazardous substances must also feature on the map. At these companies the amount of the hazardous substances will, for example, be limited but they still continue to be important for the emergency services.

Environmental Management Act [Wet milieubeheer]

Companies need an environmental permit if they want to use or store hazardous substances. The Environmental Management Act [Wet milieubeheer] determines which conditions a company has to fulfil in order to obtain a permit. In the future the new Environmental and Planning Act [Omgevingswet] will replace the Environmental Management Act.

Security Regions Act [Wet veiligheidsregio's]

The Security Regions Act came into effect on 1 October 2010. This act brings together fire services, medical assistance in the event of accidents and disasters, disaster management and crisis management into a single organisation.

edited February 22th 2018

Be prepared

An emergency situation is always unexpected. You therefore need to make sure that you are properly prepared. This can be done in several ways:

  • Put together an emergency package.
  • Make sure you are aware of the possible risks in your environment via the Risk Map . This details per risk what the danger is, which safety measures are available and what you can do yourself.
  • Set the frequency of your regional broadcaster on your radio and/or television. These channels will be officially required to provide information in the event of an emergency.
  • Attend a first aid course. If something happens, you will be able to help yourself and others.
  • Are there people nearby who need extra help in an emergency situation? Discuss with them what you can do them in the event of an emergency.

edited February 22th 2018