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.

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 on