Ready or Not. If you’re a contractor or subcontractor in the City of Ottawa, OHSMS certification is coming for you.
In January 2020, a technical bulletin was released to the Ottawa construction industry that informed everyone of the requirement for a planned phased implementation that would require contractors to have an occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) in place. Not only did the OHSMS have to be in place by certain dates for certain values of contracts, but the systems would have to be independently certified and audited before any contracts could be awarded.
The timelines for certification were as follows:
- January 1, 2023 – construction contracts valued over $10 million
- January 1, 2025 – construction contracts valued over $1 million
- January 1, 2026 – construction contracts and subcontracts valued over $100 thousand
The first date has come and gone, but now construction businesses with contracts in that next two range need to start figuring out their plan of attack. For a lot of businesses, health and safety certifications require significant time to incorporate this type of program into their plans.
Contracts that fall under the 2026 marker of $100,000 account for approximately 37% of city jobs bid on, and (maybe more importantly) only about 4% of the dollar value of city jobs. So by phase three we’re talking about a substantial amount of business slipping through your fingers if you don’t play ball.
Which OHSMS will the City of Ottawa Accept?
The City of Ottawa will accept the following OHSMS:
- ISO 45001:2018 (covering construction activities of the organization)
- CSA Z45001:19
- COR™ 2020
Each OHSMS must be independently audited and certified.
What if you’re outside of Ottawa? Are you exempt?
Ottawa isn’t alone in heading in this direction. Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Halifax, Saskatoon, and Regina are just a few of the major Canadian cities rolling out plans to make an externally validated OHSMS a requirement to receive a government contract.
This trend is driven by several compelling arguments in favor of implementing this certification. Not only does it greatly improve safety outcomes but also enhances legal compliance for organizations.
Depending on the state of your current health and safety process, this requirement may take a bit of a lift, so it’s best to get started.
How can you get started?
The certification we hear about the most from our Canadian customers and colleagues is COR (Certificate of Recognition). Originating in Alberta, the IHSA brought it to Ontario in 2011 and it has been proven to reduce workplace injuries by 28%. You can get started with COR certification by getting familiar with the program and following our complete guide to COR audits.