What is COR?
COR, or the Certificate of Recognition, is aimed at reducing accidents and injuries in the workplace for companies across Canada. It’s a national program that verifies you have a fully implemented health and safety program. Aside from the increased safety, it will bring to your organization, obtaining your COR certification can mean the difference between landing a lucrative contract or not.
Which is why we’re sharing this article – to help you decide if COR is right for your business, and how you would approach the certification process for your organization.
The Certificate of Recognition (COR) was developed by the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations (CFCSA). The certification program has the goal of reducing accidents and injuries at work, helping you avoid their financial impact, and keeping your employees safe.
Companies with the Certificate of Recognition have a major advantage in Canada. The decision to seek COR certification will impact both your organizational safety as well as your bottom line. In both the private and public sector, many project owners will only hire contractors and providers who are COR certified.
When reviewing if COR is right for you, there are a few considerations to note:
The COR is based on national Canadian standards, but you must obtain it for each province or territory, and local requirements may vary.
You can only get the COR from an approved Certifying Partner in your location, and your health and safety program must pass an external audit.
Companies with up to 10 employees can get a Small Employer Certificate of Recognition or SECOR, which requires a self-assessment instead of an external audit. However, the assessment must still be approved by your certifying partner. In this article, we will focus on the traditional COR.
Regardless of your business sector, you need a well-managed health and safety program to become COR certified. BIStrainer and SafeTapp can help you improve many areas of safety management, such as documentation and reporting.
How Does the COR Program Help Canadian Companies?
The CFCSA conducted a study comparing COR certified and non-certified companies in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. As you can see, COR certified companies have seen a significant improvement in their safety performance with lower rates of injury:
- In British Columbia, Short-term disability, long-term disability and fatality rates were 12% lower. Serious injury rates were 11% lower.
- In Alberta, Lost-time injury rates were 14% lower
- In Saskatchewan, Lost-time injury rates were 19% lower
What Are the Steps for a COR Certification?
As mentioned above, the COR must be obtained for each province or territory where your company is doing business. However, once you have obtained the first COR, there is an equivalence program that simplifies the process in other locations. Below, we will discuss the main steps to get a COR in Alberta, and how BIStrainer can help you during the process.
1) Choose a Certifying Partner
As mentioned above, a COR can only be awarded by a Certifying Partner, along with your state or territory government. However, these partners can also help you in many areas of safety, even before starting the certification process. They can help your company develop a health and safety system according to regulations, and they can provide training for your employees.
Currently, there are 13 Certifying Partners to choose from in Alberta. Some of them will provide their services regardless of your business sector, while others focus on specific industries.
2) Implement a Health and Safety Management System
Before you can apply for a Certificate of Recognition, you must have a solid safety management system in place. This means your company must have a safety policy with clear procedures and responsibilities. You also need to develop adequate formats for safety documents, and a system that keeps your files organized.
In the case of Alberta, having a health and safety program is mandatory if you have at least 20 employees, and this includes part-time workers. However, if you’re applying for a COR, you need to develop an OHS program regardless of your staff size. To be compliant, your safety program must cover at least the 10 following areas:
- Develop a health & safety policy
- Hazard assessment & control
- Emergency preparedness plan
- Safe work practices and safe job procedures
- Preventative Maintenance
- Workplace inspections
- Company rules and policies
- Health and safety training
- Investigation procedures and reporting
There are common elements for participants in COR across all the provinces in Canada. Ontario has several supplementary elements to consider as well.
3) Get an Audit
Once you have a health and safety program in place, the next step is passing an external audit. Your Certifying Partner will provide a list of approved auditors, along with their audit requirements. The specific process can change depending on the Certifying Partner, but three minimum requirements are always included:
- Employee interviews will be conducted at all levels of your organization.
- Your safety documentation will be reviewed carefully.
- The auditor will observe your workplace conditions and practices.
You must get a total score of at least 80% to pass the COR audit, and you cannot score below 50% in any of the individual areas covered. After a successful audit, your Certifying Partner will request your Certificate of Recognition from the local government.
How we can help
Safety management software is very helpful in dealing with the many requirements of a COR certification. BIStrainer has many useful functions to support your health and safety program, which include:
- Online safety training courses, keeping your employees trained and certified for all areas of safety in your organization. Choose from our library of over 1700 safety courses, or create your own custom training content.
- Customizable digital forms, which help you manage safety information more efficiently, saving many hours of document scanning and data entry. These forms can be programmed to store all their information automatically, and they can even include voice notes and videos.
- An equipment management system, where you can track the mileage and service hours of your entire fleet. You can also use this tool to coordinate inspections, planned maintenance, and even licence renewals for your drivers.
- Secure, cloud-based storage for your safety documents, where you can find any information needed within seconds. You can easily control who has access to specific folders, and you can configure automatic notifications for any documents with an expiration date.
The ability to demonstrate you have safety policies is much easier with a comprehensive software solution.
Rewards of COR
Obtaining a Certificate of Recognition can be challenging, but also very rewarding for your company. Several studies have shown that companies with a COR have lower incident rates, and the certificate is necessary to participate in many public and private projects. And safety management software will play a significant role in your program. Whether it is through reduced injuries, increased efficiency, or qualifying for a wider range of jobs, COR certification will benefit your organization.