When accidents or disasters happen, the Dutch Safety Board investigates how it was possible for these to occur, with the aim of learning lessons for the future and, ultimately, improving safety in the Netherlands. The Safety Board is independent and is free to decide which incidents to investigate. In particular, it focuses on situations in which people’s personal safety is dependent on third parties, such as the government or companies. For the Board, it is important that the investigations contribute to:
- offering certainty about the cause of an incident;
- raising safety issues that do not receive sufficient attention;
- improving learning capacities;
- resolving deadlocks.
Not all incidents can be investigated. The Board therefore decides whether a specific investigation would have added value. It may decide to open an investigation in case of considerable social unrest, because new lessons can be learnt or on a suspicion of structural safety deficits in a sector. In addition, the Safety Board looks at whether other parties are investigating the same matter. The Safety Board has a legal obligation to investigate certain aviation, shipping, industrial and rail incidents.