21 May 2024

Zecc Architects’ safety endeavors awarded with SCL Certification

In architecture, the focus often lies on aesthetics, innovation and quality. However, safety also plays a significant role in this field. For Utrecht-based Zecc Architects, safety is an integral part of the company culture, both in terms of social safety in the office and safety on construction sites. Kiwa recently awarded Zecc Architects a Step 2 Safety Culture Ladder for their safety endeavors. Mario van Kooij, Zecc's associate project leader-architect, elaborates on this achievement.

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An architect designing a building has direct influence on construction safety, legal and ethical responsibilities and risk management. Integrating safety into the design process and meeting standards such as the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL) during construction is essential to ensure a safe working environment and manage risks. By consciously considering safety during the design process, a safer construction and operational phase can be guaranteed. That’s why it's not surprising that SCL certification is becoming increasingly essential for architects to win bidding processes.

Safety assurances

Safety is certainly the ethos of Zecc Architects, a young and ambitious architectural firm working on unique projects with a team of approximately 25 employees under the leadership of Marnix van der Meer and Bart Kellerhuis. ‘For us, safety is not only central on the construction site but also in the design and organizational process, says Mario van Kooij. ‘That's why we wanted to promote safety awareness within our company and show our partners, with an SCL certificate, that we take safety extremely seriously. More and more clients are requesting safety assurances during the bidding process. Therefore, SCL certification not only confirms safety practices but also opens doors to new projects and tenders.’

Thorough audit

The journey toward certification was led within Zecc Architects by a dedicated SCL task force. ‘Through information sessions and presentations, employees were actively engaged in the process. Although it required time and effort, as it took a while to fully understand what was being audited, the audit itself went smoothly. Many SCL requirements were already being implemented but were not yet fully integrated into our business processes. Kiwa conducted a thorough audit focusing on various aspects of safety within the firm, not just physical safety on construction sites but also safety within design and the organization itself.’

Broader safety awareness

For Zecc Architects, certification not only confirms their commitment to safety but also encourages further progress. ‘Early identification of risks in the design process helps in making informed decisions, preventing later changes. For our clients, certification confirms that safety plays a central role in the design process, allowing them to collaborate with us with even more confidence.’ Reflecting on the process, Zecc Architects notes that it has contributed to a broader safety awareness within the organization. ‘The majority of employees already took safety into account, but now it's even more integrated into our operations, particularly in the design process.’

Moving towards Step 3

Zecc Architects will not rest on their laurels now that they have the SCL Step 2 certificate. ‘The certificate is not only a milestone for us but also a promise for an even safer future in the architecture world. While the Step 2 audit did not reveal any significant areas of concern, it provided enough opportunities to take further steps in safety. The certification process showed that we are already operating at the level of Safety Culture Ladder Tier 3 in several aspects. So, our challenge is not merely to remain certified at Step 2 but to further grow in safety and climb a step higher within a few years.’

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