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

Additional COVID-19 measures as of October 29, 2020

In March 2020, NEN communicated additional exception measures on how to deal with delays and obstacles in audits due to COVID-19 measures. The COVID-19 situation is now taking longer than hoped for and it is good to clarify how NEN deals with this with regard to the validity of certificates and statements. The COVID-19 exception measures will remain in force for the time being until the social situation has changed and NEN communicates cancellation of the exception measures.

The complete description of measures has been translated from the policy of IAF. Additional measures, specific for SCL, are included in the document. To help interpret these measures, here are some examples when COVID-19 measures are obstructing completion of the audit:

  • If a follow-up audit must now take place, but the on-site audit cannot take place, the completion of the follow-up audit may be postponed once for a period up to a maximum of 6 months. Please note: if this follow-up audit has already been postponed for 6 months, no additional postponement will be granted.
  • If a follow-up audit has been postponed for 6 months, the next follow-up audit must take place within one year from that changed date.
  • If a recertification audit takes place now (i.e. the 3 year cycle is coming to an end), the recertification must be completed within up to 12 months after the expiration date, but once the COVID-19 measures obstructing an on-site audit are lifted, the audit must be completed within 3 months of that removal (all this within 12 months).
  • If the audit is not possible in both situations (follow-up or recertification audit), the certificate will be withdrawn or the scope will be adjusted (only state those aspects in the scope which have been fully audited). After this, an initial audit must take place if you want to adjust the scope.
  • Remote audits are allowed during follow-up audits and recertification, but now alsoallowed for step increases and scope extensions. This only concerns the interviewing of “office functions” such as management, HR, calculation, etc. Remote audits are under no circumstances allowed during initial audits and site visits.
  • With remote audits, the 2 auditors must be able to communicate with each other during the audit. If they cannot physically sit together in one room due to COVID-19 measures, a videocall is allowed as an alternative.

For a complete overview of measures, we refer to the amended policy document. This is available in Dutch, German, English and French. Do you have questions? Then contact us at

Extra self analysis tool online!

NEN has developed a new (extra) online questionnaire with which companies can identify the safety culture among their own employees. An online questionnaire was already available for use for various SCL products, but it was too extensive for some types of organizations or chosen SCL product.

The new questionnaire “SAQ Compact” contains 72 questions. It is a shortened version of the SAQ Extended, which contains 233 questions. It addresses 18 organizational aspects. The questionnaires are available in the languages ​​Dutch, German, French and English.

Web tool SCL
Both questionnaires are available via the Webtool SCL and are included in each type of webtool subscription.

This is how the webtool works:

  1. The safety officer within an organization creates a new questionnaire. The calculation tool indicates how many employees should answer the questions.
  2. Then the safety officer chooses whether to use the SAQ Compact (72 questions) or the SAQ Extended (233 questions).
  3. The safety officer sends an invitation to the questionnaire with an optional explanation to (a selection of) employees via the web tool.
  4. The progress / results can be displayed on the dashboard.

Important: The choice for which questionnaire to use depends on the selected SCL product (SCL Original, SCL, SCL Light or the Approved Self Assessment). The web tool helps you make the right choice.

More information about the Webtool SCL and the free trial subscription

Measures during Corona

This week an umbrella policy has been drawn up by NEN outlining the way audits should be handled during this Corona crisis. This policy follows the guidelines (T051) of the Dutch Accrediting Body which in turn are based on international guidelines.

Although the T051 offers good guidance, it has not been prepared for audits aimed at observing behavior and culture. For this reason, an additional chapter has been devised for the Safety Culture Ladder, based on the NEN policy.

The central message is that certification bodies may postpone an audit if conducting this audit is not possible due to the imposed measures related to the Coronavirus. The certification bodies must proactively inform NEN of this postponement. The maximum deferral period for issuing the certificate is 6 months.

Conducting remote audits is permitted in a number of exceptional cases and only in areas where no behavioral observations need to be made. For all conditions and details, see the policy document with measures.

Stay healthy.

‘New products and names Safety Culture Ladder’

The Safety Culture Ladder (Veiligheidsladder) introduces “new” products and product names. These products where initially only available within the “TenneT pilot’ and within the Dutch Governance Code Safety in Construction, but will now be made generally available. Parties can choose, next to full certification, for a different SCL product from the 1st of March 2020 onwards.

Initially there was only one SCL product available: the SCL certification, in which every year a full (100%) audit is required. On request by TenneT a pilot was started in 2016 to work with deviated products. These SCL deviations were only acknowledged by TenneT and used for their own contractors. The Dutch Governance Code Safety in Construction also decided to use these products.

The Committee of Experts (CvD) has recently decided to take the products out of the pilot context and make them generally available for the market.

The products
The SCL certification scheme remains the same, in other words: nothing changes in regard to substantive requirements. There will be a difference in audit forms.

  1. With a SCL Original, a 100% audit is performed every year.
  2. With a SCL, only in the first year a 100% audit is performed and in year 2 and 3 a follow-up audit is performed of 40%.
  3. With a SCL Light a 40% audit is required in the first year. In year 2 and 3 a check on the action plan is performed.
  4. The Approved Self Assessment is a self assessment, carried out by the organisation itself. The certification authority only checks if it is carried out in a correct manner and performs a check on action plan in year 2 and 3.

Both the SCL Original and the SCL provide a certificate if the audit is concluded successfully. The achieved step is stated on the certificate.

The SCL Light does not provide a certificate, but a statement on which a ‘step indication’ is stated.

The Approved Self Assessment does not provide a certificate, nor a statement and therefore not a step indication. The certification authority only provides a document of proof stating that the self assessment has been performed according to the required process.

More information about the product names and the audit requirements can be found in the CvD decision.

The products are available per 1st of March 2020. In the coming months all relevant documentation will be adapted to the new products.

The alteration also requires new templates for certificates and statements. These will be adjusted as soon as possible and will be available, ultimately on the 1st of April, for certification authorities.

Adjustments in the online register
The register of certificate holders on the website will be amended. The new product names will be added. The certificates and statements (current SAQ+ register) will be combined into one register. As soon as this is completed, it will be visible on the website. Certification authorities and project partners will be informed separately about the changes.

The Approved Self Assessment
For one of the new products, the Approved Self Assessment, a new SAQ webtool will be launched. This will soon be available online. This compacted SAQ must be used for the Approved Self Assessment. For more information, see the CvD decision.

Safety Culture Ladder audits for smaller organizations

The basic principle is that every company must be able to participate in the Safety Culture Ladder. For smaller companies, the certification costs for the Safety Culture Ladder are high in relation to the total cost level of the organization. In order to make the Safety Culture Ladder applicable to all organizations, a number of changes have been implemented for companies with fewer than 66 employees


Changes as of 1 January 2019

  1. Adaptation of the man-day table for small organizations (for companies up to 65 employees). The man-day table is divided into several scales, so that the number of audit days for a smaller organization is more proportionate to the size of the organization.
  2.  The Safety Culture Ladder is applicable to companies with at least 5 employees. The lower limit of 5 employees applies to a full certification audit (SCL) and to SAQ+.
  3. Group interviews are permitted for organizations up to 10 employees.
  4. The certification fee for audits of less than 8 days has been reduced. The adjustments have been incorporated in the ‘Rates Safety Culture Ladder 2019’

Click here for Document 2018-11 Safety Culture Ladder audits for smaller organizations including the revised man-day table for small organizations


Safety Culture Ladder at The Safety Summit in Schelle, Belgium

On 25 April 2018 The Safety Summit will take place in Schelle, Belgium

The Safety Summit is the conference on sustainable safety and wellbeing at work, where people who are inspired by safety and wellbeing can discover innovative safety insights. This year the focus is on:
– person behind the employee
– smart technology
– circular safety
A workshop on the Safety Culture Ladder is part of the conference programme: ‘The Safety Culture Ladder,  incentive for improvement?’

For more information, see programme ‘The Safety Summit’

Safety Culture Ladder present at the annual congress on ‘Industrial Safety’

On Thursday 25 January 2018 the Annual Congress on Industrial Safety took place in DeFabrique in Utrecht. Knowledge sharing and interaction among professionals are the main topics of the congress. The latest developments in machine safety, process safety, explosion protection and all aspects of safety culture and safety behaviour are addressed during the day.

The Safety Culture Ladder was represented at the stand of NEN. Many questions emerged about the applications of the Safety Culture Ladder , its added value and the required steps for certification. The Safety Culture Ladder was addressed by Keynote speaker Mr Guido Fricke, Senior Manager Corporate Procurement at TenneT, who presented the Safety Culture Ladder as one of the instruments TenneT uses to achieve safe behaviour and attitude in their own organization and throughout their supply chain. For more information see TenneT programme Safety by Contractor Management.

Click here for the questions and answers of the send-to-stage application at the Industrial Safety Conference.

‘Safety Culture Ladder’ part of the Annual Congress on Industrial Safety

Keynote speaker Mr Guido Fricke from TenneT will present the Safety Culture Ladder as one of the instruments TenneT uses to achieve safe behaviour and attitude to the annual congress on Industrial Safety to be held on 25 January 2018 in Utrecht. NEN will be present with a stand to answer questions.

Knowledge sharing and interaction among professionals will be the main topics of the congress. The latest developments in machine safety, process safety, explosion protection and all aspects of safety culture and safety behaviour will be addressed during the day.

For more information, see ‘Annual congress Industrial Safety’