SIGNAAL is the acronym for Signalering Nieuwe Arbeidsgerelateerde Aandoeningen Loket (Signaling New Occupational Diseases Counter)

SIGNAAL is a new online service where suspicions about new relations between health and work can be reported and reviewed by a panel of occupational specialists: in the Netherlands the Occupational Health Specialists of the Dutch Centre for Occupational Diseases (NCOD) and in Belgium to Occupational Health Experts of the Centre for Environment and Health from KULeuven and the External Service for Prevention and Protection IDEWE.

Work is beneficial for healthy, but may occasionally cause illness. Many classic occupational diseases have disappeared by improving working conditions. But because work and working conditions are constantly changing, new risks may emerge. These risks may lead to new occupational diseases. If we can recognize these "side-effects of work", in time, it may be possible to prevent permanent health damage in workers. Producing signals or alerts to these possible new diseases contributes to prevention.

Occupational physicians use their expertise to establish a link between disease and occupational exposure. This is often difficult for well-known illnesses; it is particularly difficult in new relations between work and health. The SIGNAAL project wants to help you do this.

Through SIGNAAL, you can submit a report when you suspect a new or unknown relationship between an exposure at the workplace and health problems. This report will be assessed by a panel of occupational experts to see if there is a possible association. We assure you that you will receive personal and discrete feedback on your report.

What is a new occupational disease?

A new work-related disease is a new combination of health symptoms (disease), exposure (an agent) and work situation (exposure area and means of exposure), each of which may be  new. Because new diseases are very rare, it will usually involve a known diseases caused by new exposures or to a known exposure that occurs in new work situations.

Who is SIGNAAL targeted to?

SIGNAAL is as a pilot project commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, and is intended for occupational physicians in the first instance.

What can be reported?

Any cases where the occupational physician suspects a new combination of health, exposure and work situation can be submitted. It is not necessary to know for certain in advance if it is really new. SIGNAAL will help through the online portal through which the report can be made. We ask for information on health, work and specific exposure. The reports are not limited to the health complaints of one person, but more people may also be involved. Additional data on other relevant factors can also be provided, such as exposure measurements and follow-up information. There is also the facility  to ask questions you may have about your report.

What should you expect to return

In any case, an answer. Each report is reviewed by the SIGNAAL panel and any of the occupational disease specialists from NCvB, KULeuven and IDEWE or experts from other participating institutes / countries. They will assess the report, answer your queries and contact you when necessary for additional information and consultation before eventually reaching a final conclusion.