In-house emergency respons mandatory? What does the law say?

What exactly is the situation with in-house emergency response services (BHV in Dutch)? What is mandatory and what is not? And what do you have to comply with as an employer?



In short: yes, it is. Every company is obliged to arrange in-house emergency response for as few as one employee. Below you can read exactly what you have to arrange as an employer.

What is in-house emergency response?

What exactly is in-house emergency response (BHV) and what should you arrange as an employer? Emergency response means that employees themselves offer organised help in an organisation in the event of an emergency. These employees are the emergency response officers, who tale action when the safety and/or health of employees and possible visitors is at risk. Their task is to prevent injury and damage for as much as possible. In-house emergency response is mandatory for every employer and must therefore be well arranged. In small businesses an employer can be the emergency response officer himself.

In-house response mandatory, but no fixed number of emergency response officers

The Working Conditions Act prior to 2007 stated that at least one emergency response officer should be present for every 50 employees. When the Working Conditions Act was amended in 2007, this rule was dropped. It now states that organisations are obliged to take effective measures in the field of in-house emergency response This can be done in various ways.

When determining the way of providing in-house emergency response and the number of emergency response officers present, the size of your organization and the safety and health risks connected to your organisation should be taken into account. This is determined with data from the Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E). Therefore, the number of emergency response officers is not laid down by law. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact one of our advisers.

What else is mandatory?

  • RI&E
  • Company emergency plan
  • Evacuation plan
  • Evacuation drill
  • Prevention officer
  • VCA

Sufficient emergency response officers present

There must always be a sufficient number of emergency response officers actually present at your organisation. As an employer you must therefore take illness, holidays, shift work and such into account when determining the required number of emergency response officers. The composition of your workforce also plays a role: for example, employees with a mental or physical limitation require a different division of emergency response tasks than employees without limitations.

Tasks of the emergency response officers

The tasks of emergency response officers are:
  • Providing first aid in case of accidents;
  • Fighting fire and limiting the effects of fire;
  • Alerting and evacuating all employees and other persons in the company in case of an emergency;
  • Calling professional help (fire brigade, police, ambulance, and so on...)

The following specific tasks may also be part of the emergency officer’s tasks:
  • Dealing with aggression and violence;
  • Responding to calamities involving (environmentally) hazardous substances;
  • Dealing with power failures;
  • And so on…

Training requirements for emergency response officers

The law states that emergency response officers must be able to act quickly and adequately in the event of calamities and must be trained accordingly. In addition, they must take regular refresher courses to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. The law does not state exactly how the employer must arrange for these refresher courses. The frequency of refresher courses can differ per organisation. Sometimes, due to an increased risk, one annual refresher course isn’t enough and extra training is necessary.

The emergency response pass that certified emergency response officers receive when they have successfully completed the Emergency Response course at BHV.NL is valid for 1 year. Experience has shown that a minimum of 1 annual refresher course is necessary to keep your emergency response officers trained and experienced.


We can offer you a wide range of courses, practices, and advice.
Because in-house emergency response is mandatory, it’s important to ensure that the in-house emergency response at your company is well-arranged. Even more important: is that the safety of your employees is guaranteed! We will be happy to help you on your way.

Frequently asked questions

Is in-house emergency response mandatory?

Yes, in-house emergency response is mandatory for every company with 1 or more employees. You can train employees to become emergency response officers by having them follow a Basic Emergency Response Officer Course.

How many emergency response officers should a company have?

The law does not state how many emergency response officers a company must have. It only states that it’s mandatory for organisations to take effective measures in the field of in-house emergency response. You can determine how many emergency response officers are needed based on the size of your organisation and the risks that exist. You can use the data from the Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E) for this.

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