Investigations into the causes of disasters and accidents have been conducted for more than one hundred years in the Netherlands.

The first investigation commission was the Maritime Court of the Netherlands, founded in 1909. It was followed in subsequent decades by the Inland Waterways (Disaster) Act Commission (1931), the Civil Aviation Board (1937) and the Rail Accident Investigation Board (1956).

Some investigation boards had disciplinary powers: the Aviation Board had them until 1992, while the Maritime Court of the Netherlands officially still possesses such powers. While each commission formed its judgements independently, the investigations were in practice often carried out by inspectors from the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, the calls for a fully independent investigative body became increasingly urgent. As a response, the Dutch Transport Safety Board was formed in 1999, with a mandate to carry out and report on all investigations in the transport sector under its own name. It was explicitly decided that investigations should focus on the lessons to be learnt from accidents, excluding the question of liability from consideration.

The House of Representatives perceived the need to provide more sectors with a permanent investigative institute. This situation would avoid the need to set up a temporary commission after every incident. After the Enschede fireworks disaster and the Volendam café fire, the Dutch government submitted a proposal for the Kingdom Act which formed the basis for the establishment of the Dutch Safety Board.

The Dutch Safety Board was founded on 1 February 2005 and was presided by Prof. Pieter van Vollenhoven until 2011. He was succeeded by Tjibbe Joustra, who was the chairman until April 2019. In May 2019 Jeroen Dijsselbloem was appointed chairman of the Dutch Safety Board.