The answers to a number of frequently asked questions follow below. Please contact us if you have any other questions.

General questions

The Safety Culture Ladder (SCL) is an instrument you can use to improve awareness of health and safety at work in your own organisation. The ladder also qualifies as a quality aspect when procuring work, services and supplies The SCL has been developed for every type of organisation, big and small, in the profit, non-profit, service and industrial sectors.
The SCL has been developed for every type of organisation, big and small, in the profit, non-profit, service and industrial sectors.
SCL 2016 was released in 2016. The latest version is the SCL 2.0, against which organisations can certify or recertify themselves as of 1 January 2024.

After being in use in the market for a number of years, it became clear that the SCL needed to be updated for the following reasons:

  • More and more users were not recognising the (rail-related) terms used. These have been removed from the new ladder, making the new model usable in every sector.
  • Users felt that a lot of information was being duplicated in the descriptions.
  • Users said they wanted to see descriptions of the steps in ascending order. This would keep things clear when they were trying to progress to the next step.
  • There was a need to make new agreements about the assessment process. In the old ladder, organisations were able to choose to focus on certain subjects more (‘company characteristics’), giving them the number of points they needed to achieve a positive assessment. This is not possible in the new ladder. Because ‘points’ are not being used anymore, the assessment against the ladder has become less of a mathematical sum. It now focuses more on supporting growth.
  • Users of the previous edition of the SCL said they wanted to see better definitions of the higher steps.

SCL 2.0 describes the steps more clearly. Duplicate information has been removed as well and the assessment method has been presented in a way that is easier to understand. If you are wondering what else has changed, see this page.

As of 1 January 2024, it will only be possible to conduct audits against SCL 2.0, in accordance with the arrangements in the Certification Scheme. 2024 will be a transition year, in which certification and recertification will be possible against both SCL 2.0 and SCL 2016. As of 1 January 2025, certification and recertification will only be possible against SCL 2.0. However, follow-up audits will still be possible against SCL 2016. If the transition to SCL 2.0 happens while a certificate is still valid, an initial audit will need to be conducted against SCL 2.0. As of 1 January 2028, only certificates issued against SCL 2.0 (or later editions) will be valid.

SCL 2.0 and the Certification Scheme

The standard is the framework for certification against the SCL 2.0. The Certification Scheme contains the arrangements made about assessment against the SCL 2.0. The standard and the Certification Scheme are published on this page.

Certification process

A number of steps need to be completed to obtain certification against the SCL. These steps are explained in the general step-by-step plan. A detailed step-by-step plan is also available per SCL product (certificate type).

Certification body

The abbreviation ‘CB’ stands for ‘certification body’. This is an independent party (organisation) that NEN has declared competent to perform assessments against the Safety Culture Ladder and then issue the relevant certificates and statements.

Only certification bodies (CBs) that have entered into a licensing agreement with NEN are permitted to do these assessments. This guarantees that CBs meet the quality requirements of the scheme manager (NEN). Click  here to see the full list of certification bodies.

SCL 2.0 sets out the criteria to be met by an organisation that wants to become a certification body that NEN has declared competent to audit against the SCL. If you are eligible, contact NEN via  info@safetycultureladder.com.

Certificate validity

Once issued, a certificate or statement will be valid for three years. However, an interim audit must be carried out every year (Years 2 and 3) to confirm that the certificate or statement will retain its validity.

SCL webtool and training courses

You can use the tool to do an independent baseline measurement or to start the certification process. The ready-made questionnaire can be completed by employees at every level in your organisation. The results show which themes could still be improved on and what is already going well. See the webtool for more information.

Yes, NEN organises various training courses for auditors, including internal auditors. Because the SCL requires a completely different approach and assessment method than standard system audits do, this training course teaches (internal) auditors to assess safety culture in organisations against the SCL 2.0 standard. See 'training courses‘ on the website for the dates.

Yes, training courses are organised for organisations that want to obtain certification against the SCL. See ‘training courses‘ for the dates.

Relationship with other standards

The NEN-ISO 45001 and VCA, VCU and VCO apply to every type of organisation. These standards focus on managing and continuously improving quality and safety in organisations via QHSE (quality, health, safety and environment) management systems. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the right resources and systems and the human factor are essential, especially for the safe performance of work in practice. This has resulted in more attention for the ‘soft’ side of the QHSE management system, such as implicit health and safety at work. 

The (new) SCL standard is not used to assess H&S management systems but to objectively measure attitudes and behaviour about health and safety (H&S) in an organisation. The SCL aims to contribute to health and safety awareness in organisations, thus promoting the healthy and safe performance of work and encouraging improvements in this area. So, the SCL complements the way in which an organisation has set up its processes, whether or not through ‘system standards’ like NEN-ISO 45001 and the VCA/VCU/VCO and current laws and regulations, such as the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) and sector guidelines.

News and other developments

SCL news is regularly posted on the website under ‘News‘. You could also sign up for the regular SCL newsletter, which contains news about the SCL and related subjects.

Still have questions?

If you cannot find the answers to your questions in the FAQs, submit your question via the contact form. here.

If you have questions about how the SCL Webtool works, contact the NEN customer service team via klantenservice@nen.nl  or via +31 (0)15 2 690 391 between 08.30 and 17.00 hours on Monday to Friday inclusive..

To start the certification process, contact one of the certification bodies.