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A safe work environment

Regardless of whether you work at a desk or in a lab, all workplaces have their risks. As your employer, the University aims to create a healthy workplace and to limit possible health risks. Here you will find the main risks and measures that we take to reduce them.

Desk work and arm, neck and shoulder pain

If you spend long periods working at a computer, you can develop physical symptoms. These symptoms, which used to be known as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), are now termed CANS (Complaints of Arm, Neck and Shoulder). They can develop in your muscles, tendons and nerves in your neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Five factors play a role in the development of such symptoms: workspace, working hours, tasks, workload and posture.

Read our information sheet on Preventing CANS/RSI to find out how to prevent or treat the symptoms, or read the Working Conditions Catalogue on CANS by Universities in the Netherlands. This contains a wealth of information on prevention alongside presentations, leaflets and tools to help assess the risks. You can also watch a short film on how to adjust your workspace.

Physical strain

If you regularly lift or handle heavy objects or lift or handle objects incorrectly, or if you stand or walk a lot for your work, you risk developing health problems such as back strain. It is therefore wise to be sensible about physical exertion and to limit it as much as possible.

To find out how to prevent physical complaints, read our leaflet on Things to bear in mind when lifting and carrying Aandachtspunten tillen en dragen.


At work, you may be exposed to substances that cause an allergic reaction such as a skin, nose, eye or lung irritation. Allergies to latex and test animals are particularly common: latex allergies in staff who often come into contact with rubber products and animal allergies in staff who work with test animals. Read about these allergies and what you can do to prevent them in the brochures Latex allergy and Test animals allergy.

Legionnaires’ disease

You can contract Legionnaires’ disease if you breathe in the Legionella bacteria. Legionella can be found in such places as showers, sprinklers and fire hoses.

To reduce the risk of Legionella, the Real Estate Directorate regularly inspects potential sources of exposure, such as misting systems in the Hortus Botanicus, the showers in Plexus and the USC and the cooling towers at the Sylvius Laboratory and KOG building.

If your department or unit uses fire hoses, emergency showers or eyewash stations, notify your safety officer. He or she will help you implement measures to prevent the Legionella bacteria and infection.

More information

If you have any questions about symptoms caused by desk work or about adjustments needed to your workspace, please contact your safety officer. For more information on allergies, contact Paulien Oosterveld (tel. 3089). Notify your manager if you think you suffer from an allergy.

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