'SCL 2.0 provides more guidance and is of value to more sectors'

A lot of things are changing, but not actually that much. In a nutshell, that is what is coming at companies working with the Safety Culture Ladder version from 2016 and wanting to move to the new 2.0 version. What about that exactly? Hanneke Jansen explained it at the Safety Culture Ladder congress on 4 June.

Jansen is a senior culture change consultant, and in that capacity she visits many companies. 'I often give training courses at companies on safety awareness, for example. They are often surprised by the things I bring up. I don't go there to tick boxes, but to have a good conversation about people and their behaviour and needs. Because a director may say that safety is number one, but how does he ensure that this message lands everywhere in the organisation and what does that mean? Then it's about leadership and exemplary behaviour. In my view, those are the most crucial elements in your safety culture.'


The Safety Culture Ladder is right up Jansen's street. 'I like working with people and what moves them and the SCL fits perfectly with that. It is not about tick boxes but about behaviour. What you see is what you get: how do people behave in practice apart from the rules they have all agreed on safety? What do you see in practice when it comes to that? The SCL provides a lot of guidance and insight into how you can grow as a company to improve safety. For instance, there is the prerequisite that as an organisation you have to define your H&S behaviour, and that prerequisite does not change the higher up the ladder you go. What does grow and change is your people's behaviour towards those agreements.'


A new version of the SCL, SCL 2.0, was published at the end of last year. 'The 2016 version was a little too contractor-focused,' Jansen explains the need for change. 'The roots of the SCL lie in the spearway industry, that emphasis on the construction-related world was still a bit too much in it to add value to other sectors as well. The new version is more generic and freer in nature precisely to appeal to more sectors. This does have a possible disadvantage. Precisely because of the freedom the new version gives you to define H&S behaviour, for instance, you may wonder how, and with whom? You are immediately activated as a company, but then you have to know how to proceed. So more freedom, but also more thinking.' The new version is also a bit more concise and accessible, says Jansen. 'But the most important thing is that the preconditions are defined and so is the behaviour on the different steps. How you arrive at certain behaviour is very free, but what that behaviour should look like has been described very concretely. In addition, the definition of H&S behaviour has been broadened. That is a very important development. Instead of just your own shop floor, it also includes 'others and the environment', the stakeholders. And it is explicitly not just about physical safety, but also about health, well-being, psychological safety and whatever is most applicable to you such as digital safety. In other words, you can have your security in order as a company, but it doesn't stop at the gate. And it is much broader than many companies think. For instance, what effect does your organisation have on your neighbours? Or your supply chain partners? So the new SCL is much broader, which means you are challenged to think differently about your operations in the 2.0 version.'

Step 1 described

Jansen finally names two more changes. The new version features five themes instead of six. 'These have also all been renamed,' says Jansen. 'What is also new is that Step 1 is now described in concrete terms. How does a 'step 1 company' behave? Recording that creates a nice illustrative starting point that organisations can use to establish their position.'

No extra work required

So quite a lot is changing, but what specifically should companies do to prepare for the 2.0 version? 'Actually nothing extra than what they are already doing now. There has been a weighting with pilot audits and this has shown that companies in the 2.0 version achieve the same step as in the 2016 version. The old step 2, for example, is as heavy as in the new version. I would advise companies to still get certified against the new version because it gives more guidance on what you still have to do as an organisation to improve security. But in terms of heaviness and preparation for an audit, nothing changes.'


What also changes in the new SCL version are the audit reports. 'The weighting has changed. SCL used to work with a points system, which have now become colours. You can score red, orange or green for each theme. The most observed behaviour is central to this. Behaviour carries more weight than preconditions. And so it is not the case that if one person shows Step 1 behaviour, the certificate is immediately withdrawn. We look closely at the most common behaviour within the organisation. There can always be outliers. 'The new traffic light system also means that the exchange of points that used to be possible is now a thing of the past. 'As a company, you can no longer start shuffling points or showing calculating behaviour. Everything you do has to be good enough.'

Just a chat

The findings from the reports contain many useful handles for companies to work on further. And then Jansen returns to the beginning of the conversation where she says that companies are often surprised by the things she asks or that are asked during an audit. ''Auditors don't ask for piles of paper but have an open conversation about safety. I once heard a director of a construction company say that the auditors had 'just had a chat about the work' and they thought that was a bit strange. But he was eventually amazed by the final report because it described exactly how his company stood. That actually says it all.'

Companies still have until 1 January 2025 to recertify against the old version if necessary. From 2028, only certification on the new version will be possible.