‘A managed process is a safe process!’
BAM DLP extends Safety Culture Ladder Step 5 certification
With the Safety Culture Ladder (SCL), previously known as ‘Veiligheidsladder’, organisations can make their business processes and working methods safer in steps. For the fifth and final step of the Safety Culture Ladder, the safety levels must be so high that certification at that level was considered unattainable for a long time. BAM DLP, part of BAM Infra Nederland, proved the contrary and in 2019, it was the first in the world to be certified at SCL step 5. An amazing performance that the company recently matched by extending the certification by a year.
The Safety Culture Ladder was developed by ProRail, but it is now also being used by companies outside the rail sector who want to work structurally on safety and safety awareness, the Netherlands as well as in Germany, Belgium, France and Norway. The norm, managed by NEN, is used by large contracting authorities such as ProRail, TenneT and the Dutch Central Government Real Estate Agency when selecting suppliers. From 2022, the Safety Culture Ladder will even be included as a mandatory component in many tenders and contracts in the construction industry. That was agreed in the Safety in Construction Governance Code [Governance Code Veiligheid in de Bouw (GCVB)] in 2019.
Using the Safety Culture Ladder, organisations measure how aware or unaware their staff are when dealing with health and safety and how the associated processes are organised. At organisations wanting to work on safety, the actual situation is mapped out through interviews and observations and linked to a SCL step. By actively encouraging safety awareness in staff members, companies can work towards a higher level, as well as potentially attaining the corresponding certification from an independent acknowledged body, such as Kiwa.
Organisations can work in steps from step 1, in which safety receives hardly any additional attention, to step 5, in which safety is fully integrated in the business processes. That BAM DLP would aim for that final step was clear from the start for Kommer den Uil, head of QHSE at BAM Infra Nederland and manager at BAM DLP. ‘BAM DLP (Deskundige Leidinggevende Projecten or Project Management Experts, Ed.) coordinates all soil remediation work within BAM Infra Nederland. With the establishment of BAM DLP in 2014, we immediately set the ambition of becoming the best DLP company in the Netherlands. In 2018 when we looked for a system we could measure ourselves against, we found the Safety Culture Ladder and straight away we wanted to go for certification according to step 5’.
That appeared to be easier said than done. The market considered the final step of the SCL to be unattainable and certification was even put on hold so that the content could be reinterpreted. The Board of Stakeholders of the Safety Culture Ladder tasked the Board of Experts (including Kommer den Uil) and certification bodies (including Kiwa) with reassessing the step 5 requirements and clarifying the audit criteria. Den Uil: ‘As a result, there was a new version of the general description of step 5, additional terms and definitions and an explanation of the criteria and audit guidelines. This meant that from 1 July 2019, step 5 could genuinely be certified and a week later, Kiwa division director Ronald Karel awarded the certificate to us on behalf of Kiwa’.
Safety in the genes
BAM DLP is one of the three organisations in the Netherlands with a SCL step 5 certification. According to the definition, this means that safety is fully integrated in the business processes and a permanent component of reflection and evaluation within the internal organisation and with industry peers. ‘At BAM DLP, safety is in our genes’, confirms Kommer den Uil. ‘In our view, a safe process is a managed process. As BLM DLP, we have a leading role in the BAM organisation and beyond. We are actively involved in various industry initiatives and we have participated for years in the CROW committees (Commissie Richtlijnontwikkeling en Wetenschap or Guideline Development and Science Committees) that have commonalities with working in or with contaminated soil and building materials.’
According to Den Uil, there is no commercial stimulus to strive for the highest level of the Safety Culture Ladder. ‘No commissioning bodies require it. Therefore, it doesn’t earn us a single cent’. It comes purely from the intrinsic motivation to work as safely as possible and to continuously try to improve that further’. According to Kommer den Uil, it’s not easy to get certified at this level and maintain it. ‘BAM DLP has grown rapidly in recent years, from 150 to over 1,400 contracts annually. That means you must maintain your safety culture in an organisation that has an influx of many new people and that also works in a sector in which the margins are under pressure. And we feel the market has its eye on us, therefore our challenge is to keep living up to this standard!’