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What is SCC?

Whereas the legislator used to keep companies' attention mainly focused on the safety and health of their own employees, the Welfare Act of 4 August 1996 broadened the scope to work with third parties. Indeed, in these situations, clear agreements must be made to safeguard the safety, health and welfare of all involved. The client must ensure that the contractor observes the necessary preventive measures when carrying out the work. In addition, every principal also has a duty to keep out unsafe contractors. How all this should be done is not mentioned in the Act. It is up to the principal to find the appropriate way for this.

One option he has is to call on contractors who have a label, attestation or certificate demonstrating the application of a safety management system. Several safety management systems have been developed that allow contractors to demonstrate that they observe the necessary preventive measures so that risks to their own employees and those of the client are minimised. In the Netherlands, for example, the VCA system was developed under the impetus of petrochemical companies.

This system is aimed primarily at contractors carrying out more high-risk activities. SCC (Safety, Health and Environment Checklist for Contractors) is a certification process in which a certification body checks, based on a screening of the company and its work sites, whether the applicant meets the assessment criteria for SCC certification. Since 1 September 1999, a Belgian SCC structure has also been operational with the Executive Committee of Experts (UCvD) as the central body. The Belgian SCC management organisation initially still operated under the umbrella of the non-profit organisation BeSaCC-VCA and from 2004 under the name of non-profit organisation Contractor Safety Management.

BeSaCC certificate or VCA certificate?

Any company whose employees have to carry out work in another company will benefit from obtaining an attestation or a certificate. The choice between an SCC certificate and a BeSaCC attestation depends on various factors such as the requirements set by the client, the nature of the risks or the company's own capabilities. The non-profit association BeSaCC-VCA strives for maximum complementarity between the two systems without detracting from the individuality of BeSaCC or SCC. The criteria used are very similar and a consultation platform ensures that the criteria match. The difference lies mainly in the process whereby SCC requires vetting by a certification body. SCC is therefore more intended for companies whose operational activities pose an increased risk to clients. BeSaCC is mainly intended for executive activities with minor risks. The BeSaCC certificate can also be seen as a first step towards certification. SCC certification is intended for companies that perform high-risk work in high-risk environments (work in factories, installations, workshops and project sites). See also further under scope. The distinction between major and minor risks cannot be made clearly, let alone a demarcation by sectors. When imposing requirements, clients should therefore take the individuality of contractors into account and, if necessary, leave the choice of BeSaCC or SCC to the contractor itself.

What is SCC NOT for?

Complementing what has been said above, it is clear that SCC is in any case NOT intended for the following activities or types of enterprises:

- Study, project, coordination and engineering firms
- Self-employed
- Temporary employment agencies (provision of workers with transfer of authority). This is what VCU is for.

Due to the structure and content of the checklist, certification for these is not possible or does not make sense (e.g. no real machines, no employees, etc.). Yet SCC requirements for these activities forces companies and certification bodies to resort to subterfuges and different interpretations of the SCC checklist, thus undermining the system.

Three levels of certification

In SCC certification, three levels are distinguished:
1) SCC* Aimed at direct control of HSE while performing work on the shop floor, without the use of subcontractors.
2) SCC** Focused on the direct control of HSE during the execution of activities on the shop floor, as well as on the HSE structure (including HSE policy, HSE organisation and improvement management).
3) SCC petrochemistry Aimed at the direct control of HSE while performing work on the shop floor, on the HSE structure (including HSE policy, HSE organisation and improvement management), as well as on specific additional requirements for the petrochemical industry.

Scope for VCA*, VCA** and VCA petrochemistry

SCC certification was and is intended for companies carrying out high-risk work in high-risk environments (work in factories, installations, workshops and project sites), such as:

- mechanical engineering activities
- electrical engineering and process control
- construction work
- civil engineering activities
- other technical services, such as:
- insulation
- scaffolding construction
- industrial cleaning
- blasting/conservation
- vertical transport

Whereas SCC* is primarily intended for subcontractors and SCC** for main contractors, SCC petrochemistry also has a specific target group. SCC petrochemistry is intended for companies or organisational units thereof that perform work on (petro-) chemical installations. It is therefore absolutely not the case that every main contractor working in the (petro-) chemical industry must have the VCA petrochemistry certificate. It mainly concerns those companies that both work with subcontractors and undertake larger complex projects on (petro-) chemical installations. For clients wishing to require their contractors to have the SCC petrochemistry certificate, a specific guideline has been drawn up containing preconditions for imposing the certificate and sufficient time for contractors to develop and introduce a number of new elements of the SCC petrochemistry.

VCA criteria

The new SCC version 2017/6.0 came into force on 2 April 2018. SCC 2017/6.0 puts safety even more centre stage, contains improvements in the workplace and safe behaviour and provides more clarity and reliability for the chain. There is also now one scheme for the Netherlands and Belgium, without its own emphases.The latest SCC version came about after an intensive dialogue between the various stakeholders. Not all wishes and comments were honoured in the process, but the final result is now in place.

In outline, SCC 2017/6.0 has five major improvements:

1. Back to basics

Safety becomes even more central. By formulating more tightly and de-duplicating, we have reduced the number of requirements. We have structured the remaining requirements more logically. Compared to the previous SCC version, there is less focus on the environment.

2. Workplace: more focus on practice

We have sharpened the sections of the SCC that deal with the workplace, based on the latest insights and feedback from certified companies. The sections now better reflect today's safety practices. More time has also been set aside for workplace audits.

3. Behaviour: scope for customisation

Every company is different. What works for one company when it comes to encouraging safe behaviour may not (yet) work that way for another. Moreover, the field of behavioural influence is developing rapidly and companies must be given the opportunity to respond to these developments. That is why there will be more room for a tailor-made approach to the behavioural aspects of SCC. The observation programme from the previous SCC version has been replaced by a programme for HSE awareness and behaviour, which is mandatory for SCC** companies.

4. Greater clarity and reliability for the chain

We have clarified the position of the zzp'er within SCC. By including more must-questions for the VCA* certification level, we increase the reliability of parties at the beginning of the chain. Also, hiring parties (mostly SCC** and SCC Petrochemical companies) have to test subcontractors on more points than is currently the case.

5. SCC and other countries: more equivalence and better applicability

With the advent of SCC 2017/6.0, there is one scheme for the Netherlands and Belgium. These countries no longer place their own emphases. We have designed the new version so that other countries can easily use it too, with a clear lower limit of what exactly they have to regulate.

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