Safety Culture Ladder further defined and easier to apply

The new version of the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL), released on 1 September 2023, introduces several improvements. This new version of the tool, which aims to promote safety culture within companies, provides better descriptions of what the different steps entail. It also focuses more on the result itself rather than on how the result can be achieved. The new version is easier to read too.

Employers can use the SCL to promote the safety culture in their organizations. The tool defines five steps, each indicating a level at which a company can be classified when it comes to safe working. The SCL is already being used by nearly 2,000 companies. The SCL was designed to be applicable to all sectors and to all types of company.

More concise, more steps and progressive descriptions

SCL 2.0, as the new version is called, features several adjustments. The new version is more concise than the first edition because many duplications have been removed. Another change is the addition of step 1, although its wording may be perceived as being somewhat negative. This is because this step defines undesirable behaviour. Safe working starts at step 2, but NEN found inclusion of step 1 necessary so that the full growth process is shown. The third major change is that the descriptions of the steps are now progressive descriptions, making the differences between the steps for each topic more distinct. This also shows organizations how to grow towards the next step.

More transparent and result-oriented

The practical arrangement of the new themes makes it easier for users to recognize what is relevant for a specific topic. Whereas the previous edition had a more vertical approach and focused on individual steps, NEN has now adopted a more horizontal approach for the assessment, considering individual sub-themes and the differences between the steps. Furthermore, the new text focuses more on what a company wants to achieve and why. This means that the focus is no longer on, for example, the way in which something should be done, but instead on the desired outcome. And finally, the descriptions focus more on attitude, behaviour and interaction rather than, for instance, practices, methods and systems.

Standard and certification scheme

To ensure that the terminology used in the documents corresponds to international agreements on the subject, the manual is now called a ‘certification scheme’ and the certification scheme is called the ‘SCL 2.0 standard’. The documents for the previous version of the SCL will also remain available during the transition period. These documents will keep their current names.

Transition period

The new version of the SCL is subject to a transition period. Certification to both versions will still be possible in 2024, but with effect from 2025 onwards, certification and recertification will be possible to the 2.0 version only.

SAQ and French-language version

The Dutch, English and German versions will be published on 1 September. A French-language version will be released in October. The new SAQ (Self Assessment Questionnaire), which will allow companies to assess for themselves where they are on the ladder, will be made available on 1 December.

Training courses

NEN provides training courses to enable companies to prepare for audits to the SCL. This familiarizes organizations with the different aspects of the Safety Culture Ladder. Attending training courses provides a better understanding and reference points for such audits. You can find more information about this here


Several experts worked on the revised version over the past four years. NEN, and everyone involved in the SCL, would like to extend particular thanks to Hans Aarns (Aboma Certification B.V.), Taco Buissant des Amorie (Tasqq), Arno de Graaff (Movares Nederland B.V. and a member of the Committee of Experts for the SCL), Gerd Jan Frijters (Kader B.V.), Robert Taen (Apollo 13), Frank Thoonen (Stedin), and Marina van Beekveld (Van Beekveld Organisatieadvies) for their participation in the expert group.

More information

You can find more information on the Safety Culture Ladder on the NEN website, and at

Safety concerns us all

Lieke van Hoven –  Safety Behaviour Specialist bij Heijmans

Safety concerns us all. But how can we make sure that we are on the same wavelength when it comes to safety?

At Heijmans we do this by focusing on two aspects. On the one hand, we focus on knowledge and identifying risks, and on the other, we pay a lot of attention to attitude and behaviour. The Safety Culture Ladder is one of the methods we use for this. We are not only investing in our own employees, but also in our clients and subcontractors.

Knowledge & risk identification

In order to identify the safety risks of an assignment and initiate the risk assessment, or ‘RI&E’, we engage with our clients and subcontractors at the earliest stage possible. The RI&E thus becomes increasingly more detailed as preparations progress.

During the design phase, provided we are involved in it, and the pre-work phase, we exchange ideas on any risks and the practical measures we can take to ensure optimum work safety. This prepares us well for the implementation phase, minimising the need to improvise, and reducing any failure costs. The risk process is a common theme in our work: we use the RI&E as input to start our daily and weekly operations and as input for the LMRA.

Safety culture

Of course, identifying unsafe situations is very important, but how people act on this can make all the difference. Do we try to resolve an unsafe situation as and where we detect it, or do we report and register it, so that we and others can learn from it? It might even be necessary to go back to the drawing board to modify a work plan and reconsider the safety risks. This takes time, but it will also help to prevent accidents.

Responsibility for safety always remains with operational staff and their direct superiors. It is not uncommon for management and board members to visit workplaces and talk to operational staff about safety and about how they can contribute to a safer working environment. This is done in an atmosphere in which people really listen to each other and everyone is open to suggestions for improvement. This is not something that has evolved all by itself, but is the result of significant investments in leadership and of creating an open culture where everyone is equal. This investment is paying off. People feel safe and able to report any issues.

Safety Culture Ladder

The Safety Culture Ladder consists of five steps; the higher the step reached by a company, the more deeply safety is rooted in its culture.

From step 4 onwards, clients and subcontractors become more involved in safe working practices. Just like many other companies, Heijmans often liaises with subcontractors. This often involves challenges since people’s safety perceptions tend to differ. The Safety Culture Ladder helps us see what we can do to bring parties with different views around to our culture. We make explicit agreements with each other to ensure that we are on the same wavelength, and, if subcontractors hire additional subcontractors themselves or if we only find out at the very last minute which of a subcontractor’s employees will actually carry out the work, we make sure that everyone knows what we expect of them when they start their work.

Heijmans Infra is already operating on step 4 of the Safety Culture Ladder, and it is also Heijmans Bouw & Techniek’s ambition to be certified to operate on this step this year. To do so, we will have to break through a kind of “glass ceiling”. All the resources to reach step 4 are at our disposal and we have the focus to use them correctly.

Last year, Bouw & Techniek assessed its safety culture by means of the online questionnaires (compact version) offered by the NEN Safety Culture Ladder web tool. In retrospect, it transpired that the statements were open to several different interpretations, as a result of which incorrect conclusions were drawn from the answers.

Nevertheless, the SCL is a very good method for assessing and reflecting a company’s safety standing. It sheds light on how safety is perceived at different levels and what good leadership entails.

Working together and risk management are common themes in the standard and the 2.0 version now distinguishes between preconditions, and attitude and behaviour. A distinction is made between identifying an issue and whether people act on this. This is a great development!

Status of the revision of SCL

Ron van der Aa and Kaat van der Haar


In our October 2022 newsletter, we gave you an update on developments regarding the revision of the SCL into SCL 2.0. This newsletter will update you what has been happening since October 2022 and we also look ahead to the coming months.

The Validation of SCL 2.0

In our October 2022 newsletter, we informed you about the validation process we had set up. The validation served to establish whether the new version of the SCL (SCL 2.0) was clear and worked well for organizations and auditors in practice.

To enable the auditors employed by the Certifying Bodies (CBs) to carry out the validations properly, NEN held workshops for the auditors involved. These workshops focused on: the content of the themes, the new assessment system, how to perform validations and how to report.

The validations were carried out by many CBs in both the Netherlands and Germany.

The participating CBs’ auditors filled out an online questionnaire to provide their feedback on the new methodology. Feedback was also received from some certificate holders involved in the validation, both via an online questionnaire and by email.

Positive feedback – overall impression

There has been a lot of positive feedback on SCL 2.0.

Examples of comments made include: ‘easier to read’, ’there is a good distinction between organization and behaviour’, ’this lets us discuss achieving the goal rather than how to score the highest number of points possible’, ‘it looks more transparent’ and ’the levels are well described and match the philosophy’.

3.b. Points of concern – overall impression

Some concerns were raised as well, mainly about the new assessment method.

Examples of comments made include: ’the dividing line between the steps can be quite thin’, ‘afraid of discussions with customers about the outcome of the assessment’ and ‘how do you ensure all auditors conduct similar assessments now that numerical scores have been abolished?’

Some comments also revealed that not everything is clear yet. For example, that it is the auditor’s overall impression that matters (and not that everything has to be 100% correct).

The public comment round

A public comment round also took place in late 2022, both in the Netherlands and Germany. We advertised it through our network for the SCL, such as the CvD (Committee of Experts), the CB consultation, the Kennisplatform (Knowledge Platform) and the Germany Working Group.

The overall conclusion was that the comments from the public comment round were very similar to the comments from the validations.

The SCL 2.0 expert group, consisting of Arno de Graaff, Frank Thoonen, Gerd-Jan Frijters, Hans Aarns, Robert Taen and Taco Buissant des Amorie, discussed all responses from the validations and the public comment round. All respondents will be informed shortly about what has been done with their responses.

The outcome of the validation and the public comment round were discussed by the SCL Committee of Experts in early February 2023. They subsequently agreed to:

  • the adjustments to the descriptions of the themes and sub-themes, proposed by the SCL 2.0 expert group;
  • a ‘low profile’ launch of SCL 2.0 in the autumn of 2023 (subject to the quality, feasibility and affordability of a number of areas important for a successful launch and subject to implementation being assured in the coming months);
  • a target date for the entry into force of SCL 2.0 by 1 January 2024, with a three-year transition period.

During this transition period, the following rules will apply;

  1. Certificates issued before the effective date of SCL 2.0:

A transition period of three years starting on the effective date of SCL 2.0 will apply. During the transition period, certificates for the old version (SCL 1.0) will remain valid if the last day of an audit for SCL 1.0 was before the effective date of SCL 2.0 (01-01-2024). Certificate holders can then be certified according to the old version of the standard (SCL 1.0) for up to three years after the effective date of SCL 2.0 (until 01-01-2027) at the latest.

  • Certificates issued after the effective date of SCL 2.0:

CBs will no longer be permitted to perform initial or recertification audits for the old version (SCL 1.0) 12 months after the effective date of SCL 2.0 (i.e. with effect from 01-01-2025),  Any certificates based on SCL 1.0 issued during these 12 months will also remain valid for three years, i.e. until 31 December 2027 at the latest.

With effect from 1 January 2028, only SCL 2.0 certificates will be valid.

  • Switching during the transition period:
    If a certificate holder switches to SCL 2.0 during the transition period, an initial audit for SCL 2.0 will be carried out.

The auditors and SCL 2.0

Numerical scores will no longer be used in the new assessment method. Auditors should form an ‘overall’ picture of the organization’s level of safety awareness. The descriptions in SCL 2.0 are useful tools for this. The numerical scores have been abolished to make the assessment system less figures-based, since this does not match the character of the SCL.

Many auditors have already been doing it in ’the new way’. They already look at the overall picture and do not merely base their judgement on the number of points scored. For some other auditors, this will be a new way of working.

In the next few months, we will team up with the CBs to give the auditors further training. The harmonization of the assessment will be a major focal point in these training sessions. How do auditors deal with dilemmas? How do they ensure good reporting that shows the organization what is going well and what can be improved? In addition, the training courses will also focus on soft skills and interview techniques.

NEN has developed a training plan for this purpose, distinguishing between a refresher course for currently certified SCL auditors and a training course for new auditors.

This training plan is now being developed in cooperation with some members of the Committee of Experts. We plan to hold the first training courses and refresher courses in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Developments for the coming months

When SCL 2.0 is published, the following and other elements must have been adapted and/or developed: 

  • The website, although the current information will have to remain available during the transition period as well;
  • A new SAQ (as a successor to the SAQ Compact and the SAQ Extended);
  • Updated information on;
  • A training plan with fully developed training courses and refresher courses for both new and experienced auditors and people monitoring the audits;
  • Information for end users (what does SCL 2.0 mean for them);
    • An overview of available products for which certification is possible;
    • An updated register of all certificate holders.

In addition, an explanatory document for SCL 2.0 is currently under preparation.

The purpose of this document is to provide an explanation of SCL and the standard as well as an explanation of how to use the ladder. It will provide more information on why a new version of the Safety Culture Ladder is needed, how it is structured and its possible interpretation. This document will also answer the question as to the necessity for organizations to continue to improve using the SCL as a tool.

Practical examples will also be included for various topics.

We will update you on developments on the various topics in a future edition of the SCL Newsletter.

New functionality in the Webtool SCL

Introduced into the SCL webtool  – 22 march 2023

A new system for user roles and rights was introduced into the SCL webtool. From now on, this will allow you to easily give external people access to your online file or make them co-managers. For more information about our Webtool please see

Reason for improvement
If people were already registered in the web tool with another organisation, they could not be added to new organisations. This was particularly inconvenient for auditors, consultants and respondents.
What will you notice about the new feature?
From now on, you can add readers by entering an email address. You no longer have to choose from a list of organisations and auditors or consultants.

Users linked to multiple organisations can now switch to the desired organisation at the top right of the profile name. Respondents do not have this option and still have to start the questionnaire via the received invitation.

‘You can’t just change culture over a Friday afternoon drink’

Conducting audits for the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL) is quite different from carrying out other audits. Better soft skills are required than when auditing system standards. ‘Engaging with people, that’s what it’s all about. Engaging with people allows auditors to find out much more and get a good impression of an organization,’ says auditor Hans Aarns.

As an auditor for Aboma Certification, Hans Aarns conducts all kinds of audits, including audits for the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL). ‘Although this standard hasn’t been around that long, it’s become quite a considerable scheme. It’s also a different kind of standard than the Dutch VCA or ISO 45001.’ An example of this is the fact that the approaches taken by the auditors to audit the different standards differ substantially. ‘Many standards are management system standards. The SCL is different in that it is a behavioural standard that assesses safety awareness and indirectly aims to improve it. It specifically focuses on people, their behaviour and the organization’s culture. Although it’s left up to the organization to set up and facilitate the SCL with an eye to health and safety, this doesn’t make it a management system. System standards address safety awareness, but not to anything like the same in-depth level. The SCL standard comprises a total of 233 questions (standard requirements) which are assessed depending on the step being audited.’ 

Interviewing and observing
When conducting SCL audits, Hans Aarns ‘engages with customers’, as he likes to call it. He does not do this on his own and instead always works with a fellow auditor. ‘When auditing system standards, you ask for specific documents, which you then examine and use as the basis of your interviews. When conducting SCL audits, it’s not uncommon for us to not open the documents at all. We talk about what’s in them, how an organization is pursuing its goals and whether this is actually effective in practice. It’s a completely different way of asking questions.’ In addition to conducting interviews, Hans Aarns and his colleague go into the workplace, which in Hans’ case is often a construction site. ‘After observing the work location and its dynamics, we talk to employees about their work. If what we’ve seen in the workplace gives cause for conducting further interviews, or if we suspect that the impression we gained from previous interviews doesn’t match what we see in the workplace, we conduct random interviews whilst continually verifying that our findings match the SCL step for which the organization is being audited. In respect of the relatively low SCL steps, safety is often arranged top-down. The higher up the ladder you go, the more things will have been arranged bottom-up, with both employees and contractors taking responsibility. We try to tune into this and match our interviews to the levels displayed by employees, their line managers and top management. This requires us being able to see everything from the organization’s perspective.’

If Hans Aarns and his colleague see anything they think is wrong or might be improved, they will talk about it to people in the organization. ‘How you actually do this is crucial. You have to gain the trust of both the employees you’re talking to and their superiors. You can’t just tick off questions on your checklist and bluntly tell people what to do. You need to stay calm, give people enough time to tell their stories, empathise and make them feel that you understand what they do. If you can instil that trust in people and ask the right questions, you can have them come up with their own possible solutions to situations in which there’s room for improvement. It’s important to have people actually think about things themselves, as this will lead to longer-lasting solutions. That’s why we always emphasize that we haven’t to come to assess individual employees, but instead the organization as a whole. We look for opportunities that will allow the organization to reach higher steps on the ladder. That’s a very different approach. Engaging with people is an essential part of this. The soft skills described above are essential when it comes to an audit team conducting a good SCL audit.’ 

The good thing about the SCL, according to Hans Aarns, is specifically that it is a standard that companies can largely structure as they see fit. ‘If you look at it from that perspective, it’s not a very strict standard. We identify whether the approach chosen is actually effective in practice and complies with the requirements of the standard. When doing so, we come across all kinds of things and that can be a positive experience. I love it when I come back a year later and see that previous areas for improvement have been acted on and that safety awareness, i.e. the culture within the organization, has improved. Because changing a culture can be quite difficult. It’s not something you just do over a Friday afternoon drink.’

Free interpretation
The SCL describes health and safety aspects that are subject to assessment, but it leaves ample room for interpretation, says Hans Aarns. ‘We look for any health and safety risks, in a broad sense, that might be relevant to an organization. This can easily lead to us assessing ‘soft safety’ issues such as work pressure, social safety or environmental safety, rather than just assessing ‘hard safety’. We focus on more than just health and safety and this is often reflected in the conversations we have. We adopt an open, interested attitude. Taking this approach creates trust and leads to many more matters being brought up than would be the case if a different interview technique were used. Some people even tell us about personal family matters. As these can also reflect on the organization and on dynamics within it, they can be instrumental in forming a good impression of an organization.’

Companies should prepare for an audit, but it is not immediately necessary for employees to prepare for interviews, according to Hans Aarns. ‘Just be yourself and share your personal view of the organization with us. That’s what I tell people in the lead-up to the interview.’ Of course, companies do want to know where they stand before the audit. ‘They can use the NEN web tool to fill in a self-assessment to find this out.  This will give them an initial baseline measurement, which they can use to determine any actions they might want to initiate. Organizations benefit from formulating their safety awareness ambitions and it’s essential that they express these ambitions and put them into practice. Ensure that communication is clear and create buy-in and support. One way of doing this is to set up a working group that reflects the organization’s population. But the main thing to keep in mind is that everything should match the organization’s identity. Organizations often have more in-house expertise than they might think. It’s just a matter of striking the right chord.’    

Setting an example
Finally, Aarns points out that management should set an example when implementing a good health and safety policy. ‘If board members or managers don’t make themselves sufficiently visible or think that rules don’t apply to them, the safety culture won’t change the slightest bit. Employees have a keen sense for this! Leading by example is important if you want to get the entire organization on board. Each standard, and that includes the SCL standard, is a means to achieve a goal and not a goal in itself. If you embrace the SCL and draft a plan that includes your own ambitions, underlying goals and actions, and then implement and monitor this, the SCL will definitely add value.’

KWA as a knowledge partner of NEN – why?

KWA Bedrijfsadviseurs is the partner of choice for manufacturing companies and institutions in the Netherlands. Our committed and expert consultants help customers understand the increasingly complex regulations. We help you with becoming and remaining compliant, bringing technical and other projects to fruition, developing carbon reduction strategies and implementing these, and improving safety in the working environment by propagating the philosophy underlying the SCL.

Sharing knowledge is in our genes and to us, helping customers is a key part of this. This is why we have deliberately chosen to be an NEN knowledge partner. In addition to mutual knowledge exchange, we see an important role for ourselves as a sounding board and as a source of ideas for the CvB (Board of Interested Parties) and the CvD (Committee of Experts) for the development of SCL 2.0.

Impact on our customers: promoting safe behaviour  
The description of the current SCL tends to be seen as system-oriented, but the components that actually  ensure that the ladder is climbed in a ‘natural way’ within an organization are culture, attitude and behaviour. So, instead of ticking off obligations on a checklist to facilitate safe behaviour, this means getting the people involved to realize that they want to work safely. Our practical knowledge of different industries puts us in a position that allows us to act as partners rather than external consultants. Working with our customers, we set objectives and initiate practical measures to promote safe behaviour in individuals, teams and the entire organization. This has an impact on our customers. 

Our role as a knowledge partner

In our role as a knowledge partner, we make an active contribution to the SCL tool becoming an effective instrument for improving and optimizing safety culture (safety awareness and consciously acting safely). KWA uses the Safety Culture Ladder methodology as a tool for working on achieving a safety culture.

A company will only find sufficient support for using the SCL methodology if the tool contributes positively towards the development of a safety culture. We share our experiences of using the tool with NEN. This has contributed to the further development of the tool in recent years, both in terms of content and applicability.

Continued participation as a knowledge partner

NEN is working hard on SCL version 2.0. We are monitoring these developments and providing input in order to achieve a high-quality tool that can be put to practical use in various industries and sectors. Only then can the SCL be used as a tool for bringing about changes in culture. KWA will continue to actively participate with NEN as a knowledge partner and sounding board.

Linda Gentner (KWA Bedrijfsadviseurs B.V.)
Erik Krops (KWA Bedrijfsadviseurs B.V.)

Invitation to participate in a survey to evaluate SCL products

NEN is about to conduct an evaluation of the SCL products, i.e. the SCL Original, the SCL, the SCL Light and the Approved Self-Assessment (SCL ASA).  The evaluation will consist of a survey and interviews. The purpose of the evaluation is to ascertain whether all products actually contribute to the objectives of the SCL and whether measuring health and safety culture using the different products contributes to a healthier and safer working environment. It is also important to identify any shortcomings and assess the impact from the perspective of the different interests involved.

The evaluation may lead to the various SCL products being adapted or new products being developed. The survey for the evaluation of SCL is still being prepared. Its availability is expected to be announced through various channels within a few weeks.

ViA evaluation

In addition to the evaluation of the SCL products, an evaluation of ViA has been commissioned by the Dutch Governance Code Veiligheid in de Bouw (GCVB).

This evaluation will be conducted by Easylog BV and will also involve a survey and interviews. Because the ViA evaluation serves a different purpose to the SCL evaluation, the questions will also be different. Since ViA makes use of the SCL, it is inevitable that the two evaluations, and hence the surveys, will touch on each other. However, any overlap has been minimized and we therefore urge everyone to complete both surveys.

The revision of the SCL – SCL 2.0

By Ron van der Aa and Kaat van der Haar


The Netherlands has been familiar with the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL, then still known by the Dutch name of ‘Veiligheidsladder’) since 2012. Having initially started as ProRail product, it became a NEN-managed product in 2016.

Over the years, the SCL has grown to become a product which is used in an ever-increasing number of sectors. It is now well-known and is being used in more and more countries around the world.

But, just like any NEN product, there comes a time when an assessment is needed to see whether market developments make a revision desirable and/or necessary. That process has taken place in recent years and has led to the development of SCL 2.0.


The scope of SCL has broadened significantly in the past few years. Where this started out as a product which was mainly used in the railway sector, its application has broadened to include many other sectors since 2016. Examples are the construction sector, grid operators and various service sectors.

This broadening of the application of the SCL also led to an increasing number of criticisms of the SCL, both in respect of the Manual and the Certification Scheme.

Examples include:

  • The SCL has too many ‘railway-related terms’, making it hard to apply to other sectors;
  • The SCL has too many descriptions which are system-oriented and are therefore not suitable within the context of measuring the safety culture;
  • The SCL insufficiently addresses employees and their roles, although employees actually play a major role in an organization’s safety awareness;
  • The SCL focuses too much on safe working, whereas safety culture is much broader;
  • The current system of scores for business aspects/characteristics has undesirable effects (also expressed as ‘calculating behaviour’).

These signals were the rationale for a full revision of the SCL, resulting in a new version of the SCL called SCL 2.0.

SCL 2.0

Besides the above signals which prompted a revision of the SCL, there are some topics which should clearly be maintained, such as the recognisability of the SCL and its potential for being applied to all sectors.

SCL 2.0 has been developed over the past few years. The typical differences with respect to the current SCL are:

  1. The six company aspects have been replaced by five themes;
  2. The assessment method by means of scores has been replaced by an assessment which is no longer based on numeral scores, but rather relies on the auditor’s observations as regards attitude, behaviour and culture.

Sub 1);

SCL 2.0 replaces the current six company aspects by the following five themes:

Theme 1;             policy & leadership;

Theme 2;             knowledge & skills;

Theme 3:             primary & secondary processes;

Theme 4:             collaboration;

Theme 5;             learning & improvement.

Each theme is subdivided into an ‘organization’ part and a ‘behaviour’ part,

and each theme has some sub-themes, corresponding to the main theme.

The description of the themes reflects a complete change. SCL 2.0 uses storytelling to convey these descriptions. Through stories, these descriptions become things that should be recognisable/observed in an organization in terms of the particular theme, sub-theme or step.

Sub 2);

SCL 2.0 no longer uses numerical scores for the assessment.

The assessment uses three colours. Possible scores are green, red and orange. ‘Organization’ (O) and ‘Behaviour’ (B) are assessed separately. Since the assessment of the culture mainly concerns the effectiveness of the efforts and tools implemented, the score for ‘B’ is assigned the most importance.

A green score visually indicates that a theme has been rated as sufficient. A theme is rated as sufficient (green) if the auditors are of the opinion that the characteristics of that theme are largely complied with.

A red score visually shows that a theme has been rated as insufficient.

And finally, an orange score is a visual indication that the organization partly complies with the descriptions that go with a theme andthat the organization is making efforts to become fully compliant.

Assessment requirements:

The assessment for O requires at least four of the five themes to be rated as ‘sufficient’ (green). The theme not rated as green must have an orange score for the organization to get a positive rating. A red score means that the step has not been passed.

The assessment for B requires all themes to be rated as ‘sufficient’ (green).


Since a numerical score is no longer awarded under the new method of assessment, organizations may perceive the outcomes of the assessment as being less useful as aids or reference points. To avoid this potentially undesirable effect and, since there has long been a need for reporting requirements to be specified, new reporting criteria have been prepared. These new criteria provide proper justification and substantiation of the findings.

The five themes and their underlying topics are assessed during the audit. Based on this, the audit team finds strengths and areas for improvement.

In their report, the auditors identify and expand on the strengths in each theme and individual topic and on areas for improvement found during the audit to give the organization an idea of its position within a step, and thus of its potential for growth within each theme.

The audit report also contains a substantiation which should enable readers to trace back why a specific score was given to a specific theme. The audit team thus takes responsibility for the proper performance of the audit and the audit team’s findings can also directly help the organization further develop to a higher step.

These are the criteria for reporting:

  • A report on what is good and what can be improved is written for the individual topics for each theme. An assessment is also given (for O and B): green, orange, red? The basic principle is that the listing for each theme must focus on culture. O and B are assessed in conjunction with each other. The assessment of ‘organization’ identifies the relationship to the culture and the consequences for the culture. Here, the overall image regarding the theme is the guiding principle. A substantiation of the score is included here as well.
  • If the auditor has noticed something out of the ordinary, they must identify it and add a description of what they think its implications for the culture are. If the auditor then notices aspects which have a direct bearing on elements described for ‘Organization’, these must be identified as well
  • The report must describe what the findings are: what does the snapshot look like? It is not a recommendation, but merely a representation of the findings.
  • It must not be possible to trace the report back to a single person. The report must be free from personal matters.


We are currently doing some tests in the Netherlands and Germany to establish whether the new version of the SCL (SCL 2.0) is clear and works well for organizations and auditors in practice. We call this process the validation of SCL 2.0.

All CIs in the Netherlands and Germany are involved in this process. In this context, each of them will use one audit for this validation process. However, since the views and opinions of the rest of the market are also very important, a public comment round is planned in the months of September and October 2022, to supplement the validation.

Based on the validation results and the comments collected through the public comment round, SCL 2.0 will be adjusted so that it will eventually be published in mid-2023 (as scheduled).

The SCL 2.0 Expert Team

The revision of the SCL, which has resulted in SCL 2.0, has been a lengthy process. Revising both the description of the SCL and the assessment method has been quite an ambitious undertaking.

It would not have been possible without the efforts and contributions of several experts who therefore deserve to be explicitly mentioned here.

Thank you, Marina van Beekveld, Arno de Graaff, Frank Thoonen, Gerd-Jan Frijters, Hans Aarns, Robert Taen and Taco Buissant des Amorie!

More and more attention for safer working: 1000th organization receives Safety Culture Ladder certificate

On March 10, 2022, the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL) certificate was issued to the 1000th organization that qualified for the SCL. A Safety Culture Ladder certificate maps the safety awareness of employees and managers. Culture is a difficult concept to “measure”. Nevertheless, the audit process for the Safety Culture Ladder provides insight into the safety culture of an organization and makes it clear what can be improved.

The aim of SCL is to test attitude and behavior in all layers of an organization when it comes to health and safety. The assessment method for measuring safety awareness and consciously acting safely in companies consists of 5 ladder steps. In short, reaching ladder step 1 means that the company is acting very reactively. Nothing is done until an accident or something serious has happened. Reaching ladder step 5 means working proactively across the company and with the entire industry to work safer and healthier.

1000th organization

The certificate was awarded by Normec Certification to Contracting and transport company ‘Roel van der Stoel B.V.’ On this occasion, a festive moment was added at Normec Certification. Jeannette Hofman-Züter, project leader of the Safety Culture Ladder at NEN, brought cake and handed a bouquet of flowers to Arjen Werkmeester, commercial director of Normec Certification.

The Safety Culture Ladder was once devised by ProRail. When more and more other companies became interested in the system, ProRail looked for an independent organization to manage the Safety Culture Ladder so that other companies could use it. NEN was chosen. Since the transfer to NEN, there are now 1000 companies that have qualified for the SCL, with the largest growth taking place in 2021: from 300 to 1000 organizations. This growth is due to the adoption of the SCL by the Governance Code for Safety in Construction (GCVB). From 1 January 2022, companies who have signed the GCVB will include safety awareness as an obligation in tenders and contracts. This joint agreement is called: Safety in Procurement (ViA). The intent is that thousands of companies in the construction sector will work more safely by focusing on safety culture and behaviour.

There are different types of SCL products, which differ in audit severity. The SCL has so far been widely used in the energy, offshore and construction sectors in Europe and more and more countries outside of Europe.

Adjustments SCL Webtool

Via the SCL Webtool, NEN offers several instruments that support certification on the SCL.

In the webtool you will find, for example, the questionnaires to be used for certain SCL products as a first self assessment: the SAQ Compact and the SAQ Extended.

The Online File is also part of the SCL Webtool. This allows an organization to upload documents and provide others (including, for example, certification bodies) access to the SAQ results.

To make the SCL Webtool more user-friendly, it has recently been adjusted on a number of points:

  • SAQ Compact
    • Questionnaire has been rewritten to simpler language, to make it even more suitable for all types of employees in an organization. Various statements have been shortened and simplified.
    • Explanation has been added for non-executive organizations. This is intended to help architectural, engineering and consultancy firms translate the questions into their own situation.
    • Some questions have been given a general explanation to make the question easier to interpret.
  • Various web pages have been renewed and made clearer. A.o. tips for administrators are included on how to properly use the questionnaires within the company.
  • Free PDFs of the questionnaires are available to organizations that have a subscription (not a trial subscription), intended for internal use and consultation.

For more information about the web tool, go to