Eveline Vermeulen takes “hazardous materials” expertise to a higher level at Riskonet:

“Being solution-oriented is absolutely key”

Januari 3, 2024

For companies struggling with legislation, regulations and insurer requirements governing hazardous materials, the New Year is off to a hopeful start. Specialising in hazardous materials, expert Eveline Vermeulen is currently taking the next step in her career, as a senior risk consultant with Riskonet. During her first week at work she has enthusiastically formulated her ambition, which she describes as “Empowering companies to handle hazardous materials in a responsible manner, even if the regulations or insurer requirements seem unclear, impractical or just not feasible.”

Companies that process, store or transport hazardous materials in 2024 will face significant legal and regulative challenges. Regulations in The Netherlands, but also in other European countries, are becoming more strict and also insurers give more attention to hazardous materials due to several large losses in the last couple of years. Especially for the Netherlands many of these companies are apprehensive, uncertain and even sceptical about the Netherlands’ PGS guidelines, which are meant to underscore effective safety and ensure that it is a good fit with local legislation and regulations and the needs of owners and users. There is ongoing discussion about the PGS’ content, implications and application in the real world. Eveline Vermeulen (36) knows all about it, having worked at the centre of that world for over seven years at Vos Logistics, often in collaboration with Riskonet advisors.

While familiarising herself with her new working environment during her first working week, Eveline makes it clear that her move to Riskonet is not what you might call the classic shift from client to consultant. “At Vos Logistics I already served as an advisor to several business units,” she insists. “The company was involved in the safe storage and transport of hazardous materials on a daily basis and while I was there the interpretation and application of PGS regulations was my bread and butter.”

Regulations are often ambiguous

Companies, supported by consultancies like Riskonet, invest a lot of time and energy in these regulations. And they have no option, because these regulations are stringent. “Unfortunately, as I have seen in practice, they can sometimes be interpreted in several ways and it can often be difficult to reconcile the needs of the legislator and those of the company.”

How can this be? Eveline reckons that in recent years there has been too much compromising during the drafting of the PGS regulations. “All-too-often these compromises are the result of negotiations between theorists and practitioners, a clash between unwavering regulators and company employees who mainly want clarity and feasibility. Unfortunately, the compromises that are reached don’t always improve the clarity of what is needed. As a result, companies are left struggling to even understand the regulations, let alone comply with them.”

 “I see it as my responsibility to move things along and facilitate workable solutions”

Unwieldy regulations

By way of illustration, Eveline concedes that while PGS 15 (the Dutch governemental guideline for the storage of flammable liquids) is doable, PGS 37-2 regulations for battery storage are unclear in several areas. “We certainly need guidelines, let there be no mistake about that. But the lithium regulations, which I find to be somewhat unwieldly, only apply in the Netherlands and this is having direct repercussions for the competitive position of many Dutch companies in Europe.”

But regardless of their origins, the onus lies on companies to apply the regulations in practice. And this is exactly what Eveline will focus on at Riskonet: organising safety at companies, often in combination with sustainability/ESG. “In many cases this will involve developing concrete solutions that might not correspond literally with what is stipulated in the PGS guidelines. I also provide support by conducting discussions with the competent authorities in the area of customisation. Good communication with the competent authority is an indispensable part of reaching an effective solution.”

Storage and transport of lithium-ion batteries

By way of example, Eveline cites a major point of contention about the storage and transport of lithium-ion batteries, according to the guidelines in PGS 37-2. A specific category of these batteries is highly inflammable if they are defective or damaged. “But the producers of these batteries are making progress all the time, to the extent that they are now less likely to ignite. Unfortunately, the regulations assume the worst-case scenario ignoring, in my opinion, the progress that has already been made and the positive effect it is having on the risks. This is leading to thorny discussions between companies and fire services, water-management boards, labour inspectorates, environmental services and other competent authorities. I see it as my responsibility to move things along and facilitate workable solutions.”

Workable solutions sometimes call for customisation. “Helping to develop bespoke solutions, entering into the necessary dialogue with the competent authority and collectively looking for ways to underscore safety,” is how Eveline describes her mission at Riskonet. “From the smallest storage needs - temporary or otherwise - to the largest logistic complexities: I have experienced it all at Vos Logistics and other companies in my career so far. A fire-protection solution is always possible, either with sprinklers or other installations. I have seen that many options are conceivable, feasible and acceptable to the competent authorities.”

Exploring the available options

Hopeful words indeed. “With the regulations in mind, my Riskonet colleagues and I look for ways to underscore a good level of safety. But in doing so, compromising and cutting corners form no part of the equation. Instead, it calls for the correct interpretation of the PGS regulations, thoroughly exploring the available options and finding a responsible level of safety.”

Eveline is keen to stress that she feels that companies are missing opportunities in this area and could be a lot more proactive. She recommends the adoption of a more self-aware attitude. “Familiarise yourself with the regulations and accumulate the necessary knowledge. Explore how safe storage and transport can be embedded in your systems. Proactively work with the guidelines and devise workable solutions, even if they are not immediately obvious. Have an open and constructive conversation with the competent authority, asking: Is this what is expected? What do you think of our interpretations and solutions? Then, with a solution-oriented mindset, actively address any observations made during inspections. I think that being solution-oriented is absolutely key here. In my experience it will take you far.”

Eveline’s experience and work ethic are clearly a seamlessly fit with Riskonet's DNA, where services and knowledge sharing are channelled into supporting clients in the development of their own safety policy. This makes clients more independent, to the extent that they also become less dependent on third parties. Including Riskonet!

Profile of Eveline Vermeulen

  • Position with Riskonet: senior risk consultant
  • Work ethic: “I relish delving into complex problems and finding solutions for clients”
  • Age: 36
  • Employment history: 12.5 years in logistics, of which 7.5 years with Vos Logistics
  • Lives in: Hoeven, between Roosendaal and Breda
  • With: her fiancé and cat

Local offices


Ron de Bruijn

The Netherlands
+31 85 043 79 40
[email protected]


Tom de Nooij

The Netherlands
+31 85 043 79 40
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Özlem Emgen

+90 533 21 12 051
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Leszek Golachowski

+48 663 336 844
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Chris Brits

South Africa
+27 83 456 7424
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Janet Short

Coal Point (Sydney)
+61 (0)49 3868111
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