Half of the 470 Dutch people suffering from Psycho-Organic Syndrome (POS), also known as the 'painter's disease', have a monthly income at or below subsistence level. These are the findings according to research by Wim Eshuis, PhD student in Law at the University of Amsterdam, commissioned by the POS Association. This research, entitled ‘Financiële schade door OPS' (Financial damage caused by POS), gives the first real insights into the situation of these patients.
POS is a work-related disease of the central nervous system arising from exposure to (volatile) solvents and a variety of other chemicals. This disease is usually characterized by symptoms of forgetfulness and memory loss, impaired concentration, fatigue, depression and irritability or anxiety. Sometimes patients also suffer problems with orientation, depression or headaches, and they have an impaired sense of smell.
Just over half the POS sufferers hold their employers liable for the damage from this occupational disease. Approximately 21 percent of these cases have been successful. After legal proceedings averaging four and a half years, they received an average compensation of €46,076. Another 21 percent are waiting (on average six years) for similar damages. The other victims of POS (58%) have not filed for damages or have seen their claims for compensation rejected. Eshuis recommends establishing a POS fund to compensate vicitims.
The study included 197 Dutch people diagnosed with POS and 37 people most likely suffering from POS but awaiting further investigation. The report can be downloaded below.
In the Netherlands at least 6,000 workers contract this occupational disease every year. Little is known about the work and income situation of this group. On the basis of liability law (Article 7:658 BW) the victim may claim damages from the employer to compensate the financial loss from occupational disease. There is little knowledge about the extent to which this happens and the success of such claims.