Kaat van der Haar: 'The SCL has captured my heart'

The roll-out of the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL) is at an important stage. With the 2.0 version recently launched, Kaat van der Haar is taking over as programme manager from Jeannette Hofman-Zütter. Hectic times, but with the experienced Van der Haar at the helm, the SCL is in good hands.

Kaat van der Haar has been working at NEN for a long time. In that time, she has always dealt with certification schemes and labels. 'Agreements on how to make standards testable and how to get a certificate as a company. I did that for many sectors. That's also how I got involved in the Safety Culture Ladder.' The SCL has now captured Van der Haar's heart. 'I myself originally come from the healthcare sector where I worked as a dialysis nurse and health and safety manager. What I noticed there is that while you can have all systems in place, the right safety protocols in house, the safety culture stands or falls with the choices people make at any given moment in a given situation. If attitude and behaviour are not right, you can throw all those protocols and agreements in the bin. Then it won't work. In other words, the SCL is an addition to existing agreements, protocols and systems within a sector, looking primarily at attitude and behaviour.' What also appeals to Van der Haar about the SCL is its versatility. 'The instrument can actually be used in all sectors, from healthcare to construction and infra. Take for instance the current discussion on cross-border behaviour. I think the SCL can play a major role there too in achieving a safe working environment.' Because that is where the core of the SCL lies, says Van der Haar. 'If people feel they can and are allowed to speak out about the situation at work, they will. This improves the safety culture at work. And once people start addressing each other, that behaviour will spread through the company like an oil slick.'


Van der Haar succeeds Jeannette Hofman-Zütter as programme manager. 'I am extremely proud and happy that I get to do this and that the team puts their trust in me. There are still so many opportunities we can seize with the SCL and I am going to work hard to do so.' As programme manager, Van der Haar plans to work intensively with the new chairman of the Committee of Experts (CVD), Anja Vijzelaar, to make the SCL known within as many sectors as possible. 'Think of municipalities, for instance. They can include the SCL in their requirements for a tender. That way, they can be sure that their subcontractors have the subject of health and safety firmly on the agenda and take it seriously. An additional effect is that due to the broad work of a municipality, which runs from construction projects to provision of care, there are a lot of different sectors involved that all come into contact with the SCL as soon as the municipality would like to engage them for a project.' Besides spreading the SCL more widely to other sectors, Van der Haar, as programme manager, wants to start a project to make the SCL more applicable to small companies of between 5 and 65 FTEs. 'We are going to organise meetings for this soon because it is not yet entirely clear to us why the SCL is not yet sufficiently adopted by this group of companies in particular. We want to find out what they are up against and what we can do about it.'


Working with the SCL has great benefits for companies, Van der Haar believes. 'It makes people feel safe to discuss certain safety issues. Not only with colleagues, but also with managers. From high to low in the organisation, this creates more awareness about safety and health. The higher you get on the steps of the ladder, the more you will see people taking responsibility themselves and addressing each other about how they want to work safely and healthily.' Growing that safety awareness may sound a bit heavy and labour-intensive, but it can be done in very small and very effective steps, Van der Haar believes. 'At NEN, we have a way of introducing companies to the SCL in an accessible way: a self-assessment in the form of a questionnaire. Based on the results, a company sees exactly where it stands on the steps of the ladder. What is going well and what could be improved? The questionnaire then immediately produces an action plan that companies can actively implement immediately. No complicated plans or research need to be made, they can get to work straight away'.

More research

Van der Haar also looks ahead to what lies ahead around the SCL in the coming years. 'In 2023, a study was done on the effect of SCL within companies. Although the results were largely positive, I still call for more and broader research. More companies, and more people within a company should have their say. So not only the board or quality managers, but also people on the shop floor. Because it is precisely they who have to deal with safety measures.' Van der Haar is also eagerly looking forward to an event around the SCL in June this year. 'In December, we launched the 2.0 version of the SCL. In June, we want to inform companies about what has changed, but also get to hear how it has landed with companies already working with it. I am very curious about that. Based on the feedback we get there, we can see where we stand and what new steps to take.'

Kaat van der Haar
SCL programme manager