NS scheme for Chromium-6
The results of the RIVM study into the use of Chromium-6 in NS workshops during the period from 1970 through 2020 were published in November 2022. Colleagues and former colleagues may have come into contact with Chromium-6 during maintenance and repair activities for trains. NS has offered its sincere apologies to all colleagues and former colleagues who fell ill or are worried they might fall ill as a result. In 2022, NS provided a compensation scheme for colleagues and former colleagues who fell ill as a result of working with Chromium-6. The (amount of the) compensation depends on the medical injury of the claimant, the activities performed and the duration of exposure. If applicable, surviving dependants may apply for a surviving dependant's benefit. Possible exposure to Chromium-6 may cause people to worry about their health even if they are not actually ill. We help our colleagues address such concerns.
The scheme has been open to our colleagues since it took effect in late November. They can contact the Independent Information Desk for Chromium-6 Issues if they have any questions. NS has also consulted about its scheme with trade unions FNV, VVMC and CNV, and has incorporated their suggestions in it. The unions support NS's scheme. By the end of 2022, a total of 231 applications had been submitted.
Back in 2015, NS asked RIVM to start a study after old layers of paint and coatings of some components of some NS trains had been found to contain Chromium-6. Chromium-6 is a metal that is used to fight corrosion, for example. When sanding painted surfaces, the dust that is released may contain Chromium-6 particles. So if you inhale the dust, this may damage your health.
Recommendations of the Independent Committee
NS established an Independent Committee to safeguard the reliability and impartiality of the study. Based on the results of the RIVM study, this committee made some recommendations for NS. One of those recommendations was to set up a simple and practical compensation scheme. NS adopted the committee's recommendations. There is a special website (in Dutch) with information about the scheme for current and former colleagues.
Colleagues are now sufficiently protected
Old layers of paint and coatings on parts of some trains may still contain Chromium-6. NS commissioned an external party to study the way in which we worked with Chromium-6 in 2022. The results of that study have shown that the level of exposure to Chromium-6 is currently low to negligible. According to the researchers, the current working methods mean that employees are now sufficiently protected. For example, separate spaces are available nowadays for activities such as welding, sanding and grinding. In addition, modern workshops have effective exhaust systems, employees have access to personal protective equipment and receive regular training.