Whether you’re a brand new construction business owner or a longtime field worker, this post will help you successfully break down the requirements of COR certification. The whole purpose of a COR audit is to ensure you meet all national industry health and safety standards.
Read on to understand the basics of the COR program so you can successfully earn your company’s accreditation, but also learn the importance of COR for construction businesses and the benefits of the certification.
What is COR?
COR is an occupational health and safety accreditation program and stands for “Certificate of Recognition.” It confirms that a business’s health and safety management system has been evaluated by a certified COR auditor and meets national standards. It is often a pre-qualifying and/or condition of contract by project owners in Canada.
The goal of the COR program is to ensure you have a robust and effective safety and health management system that will reduce incidents, accidents, and injuries.
By earning COR, you will be able to demonstrate to clients that your health and safety management system has been developed, implemented, and evaluated on an annual basis through comprehensive internal and external audits. Basically, you’re a safety superhero.
The Purpose of a COR Audit
Achieving COR certification requires businesses to undergo a rigorous process that includes preparing for a COR audit. This audit evaluates the organization’s adherence to safety protocols and procedures, ensuring they meet the necessary requirements. By obtaining COR certification, businesses can enhance their reputation, attract clients who prioritize safety, and create a safer work environment for their employees.
Assessing Your COR Audit Readiness
Preparing for a COR audit is crucial for businesses seeking certification. It involves several key steps that ensure the organization is ready to undergo the audit process.
Gather and Organize Documentation
The first step in preparing for a COR audit is to gather and organize all necessary documentation related to safety protocols and procedures. This includes documents such as safety manuals, training records, incident reports, and hazard assessments. By collecting these documents, businesses can provide evidence of their commitment to maintaining a safe work environment. It is essential to ensure that the documentation is properly organized and easily accessible during the audit. This allows auditors to review the information efficiently and helps demonstrate compliance with COR requirements.
Conduct Internal Audits
In addition to gathering documentation, conducting regular internal audits is an important step in preparing for a COR audit. Internal audits help identify any gaps or areas for improvement in safety practices before the official audit takes place. By reviewing processes, procedures, and records internally, businesses can address any non-compliance issues proactively. If any deficiencies are identified during the internal audit, corrective actions should be implemented promptly to rectify them. Regular internal audits not only prepare businesses for the COR audit but also contribute to continuous improvement in safety practices.
What to Expect from a COR Audit
A COR Audit evaluates various areas of an organization to assess its compliance with health and safety standards. Two key areas that undergo assessment are health and safety policies, as well as training and competency.
Health and Safety Policies
During a COR audit, auditors evaluate the organization’s policies and procedures related to employee health and safety. This includes assessing the effectiveness of risk management strategies implemented by the company. Auditors also review incident reporting protocols to ensure that proper procedures are in place for reporting accidents, near misses, and other safety-related incidents. By evaluating these policies, auditors can determine if the organization has established robust systems to protect employee well-being.
Training and Competency
Another crucial aspect assessed during a COR audit is the training programs provided by the organization. Auditors review training records to ensure compliance with COR requirements. They assess whether employees have received adequate training on safety protocols, hazard identification, emergency response procedures, and other relevant topics. Additionally, auditors evaluate employee competency and qualifications to perform their job duties safely. This assessment ensures that employees possess the necessary knowledge and skills to maintain a safe work environment.
Here is a thorough, but not exhaustive, list of things that your can expect to be inspected during a COR audit:
- Company health and safety policy
- Workplace hazard assessment and control
- Safe work practices
- Safe job practices
- Company rules
- Personal protective equipment
- Preventative maintenance
- Joint occupational health and safety committee
- Training and communication
- Investigations and reporting
- Emergency preparedness
- Records and statistics
What Happens if you Fail a COR Audit?
It happens to the best of us. You can plan and prepare but maybe something gets overlooked, and you can’t pass the COR audit. The high standards are part of the point of COR certification after all.
If you don’t pass the external COR audit, IHSA provides you with a written outline of areas of where improvement is required. You then have up to 6 months to take corrective action and provide IHSA with confirmation those actions have been implemented. A re-audit may be required.
The Safety and Legal Benefits of COR in Construction
One of the primary arguments in favour of requiring COR certification is the dramatic improvement in safety outcomes that it offers. Safety is a top priority for both municipalities and companies, as accidents and injuries not only harm workers but also result in costly legal battles and damage to a company’s reputation. COR certification ensures that contractors and businesses have implemented robust safety management systems, creating a safer work environment for everyone involved.
With COR certification, organizations are required to undergo rigorous audits and assessments to verify their compliance with safety standards. This process ensures that safety protocols are in place, including proper training, hazard identification, incident reporting, and emergency response plans. Implementing these measures leads to statistically significant reductions in accidents, injuries, and fatalities, creating a safer workplace.
In an ideal world, we could leave this argument at rationale #1: Everyone is working safer, there are never any accidents ever again, and rebar is now made of high-tensile, low-ductility cotton candy. Sadly we live in a world more real – and less delicious – so let’s move on to how COR covers your ass (legally speaking) when accidents invariably occur.
While the primary goal of COR is to reduce workplace injuries and incidents, having a COR certification can also provide companies with some legal and compliance advantages. Here are some ways in which COR certification has been beneficial in this context:
- Due Diligence Defense: In legal situations, especially when a company faces potential penalties or litigation due to a workplace incident, having a COR certification can be used as evidence of due diligence. Demonstrating that the company had a recognized and effective health and safety management system in place can help in defending against claims of negligence.
- Reduced Penalties: In some cases, regulatory bodies may consider a company’s COR certification when determining penalties for safety violations. A company with COR certification might receive reduced penalties because they can demonstrate a proactive approach to safety.
- Insurance Premiums: While not directly a legal issue, some insurance companies offer reduced premiums to companies with COR certification. This can be seen as a recognition that these companies are less likely to face legal claims related to workplace incidents.
COR certification requires contractors and businesses to demonstrate their compliance with relevant safety regulations and industry best practices. This includes keeping accurate records of safety training, incident reports, inspections, and corrective actions. By implementing these safety management systems, organizations can mitigate legal risks, avoid fines and penalties, and maintain a positive reputation within the industry.
Importance of COR for Construction Businesses
Why is COR compliance important to your construction business? Good question.
Every workplace requires employees to complete health and safety orientation and training. It is your (the employer’s) responsibility to ensure that employees complete orientation and training to meet the COR audit. As a company owner, you will need to prove that your employees were put through health and safety orientation and training. Finally, you will need to prove that they are also “competent”. Most importantly, you will need a track record of the entire process for evidence.
Is now the best time to track your COR audit requirements online? We think so.
By now, you probably understand that the COR auditor will want proof that your employees possess the knowledge needed for the job and that you have the track record to validate that fact. The key takeaway from today’s lesson is the track record. Be prepared to show all dates of employee training and certifications, training material, site work plans and training, and all other compliance-type documents for your company. In other words, it’s alluding to having helluvalot of paperwork as well using a lot of your valuable time.
How To Get COR Certification
Start by contacting IHSA to apply and begin the process. You’ll designate a full time employee and a representative from senior management to take the mandatory training offered by IHSA.
After training is completed you’ll use IHSA’s internal audit tool to conduct your own internal audit, which will then be reviewed by IHSA in an external audit.
A successful internal audit + a successful external audit = Certificate of Recognition. Congratulations, you’re COR certified!