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Safety Certified

There are many benefits for rental companies that are COR certified.


August 12, 2021
By Treena Hein

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Being COR certified means a safer workplace, better success at recruitment and annual insurance rebates. The benefits are many and the cost is recovered over time. Photo credit: © RossHelen / Getty Images.

Each year in Canada, the Certificate of Recognition safety program becomes more well-known and a little more widespread in the construction industry because it’s becoming a standard expectation for private and government building projects. 

It also provides many benefits, and because of that, rental companies may choose to become COR certified themselves. 

First, an overview. COR is an accreditation program that verifies that companies are meeting national occupational health and safety standards. It began in Alberta more than 20 years ago. While the bulk of COR firms are in construction, the standard is also used by other business sectors in western Canada. It’s overseen by the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations but implemented by provincial agencies such as the BC Construction Safety Alliance. 

COR aims to provide employers with an effective safety and health management system to reduce safety incidents, accidents and injuries as well as their associated human and financial costs. Its effectiveness at lowering injury rates has been proven though recent independent impact evaluations in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health in collaboration with BCCSA and WorkSafeBC.

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To achieve COR certification, companies must demonstrate many aspects of workplace health and safety, culminating in an external audit, including policies and procedures, training, hazard assessment, emergency response and incident investigation. Companies must train their own internal auditors to ensure compliance between external audits. 

Why go COR
For its part, the Canadian Rental Association supports COR certification. “The CRA envisions safety as a core value,” notes Isaac Rudik, safety manager at Herc Rentals and chair of the CRA’s Safety Shared Interest Group. “Achieving COR sets a high standard for safety. Members of the CRA may choose to actively pursue COR once they determine a business case. We encourage all members and non-members of the CRA to pursue COR in all provinces across Canada.”

In terms of cost, it’s lower for companies with fewer employees and less complex operations like rental stores – companies that don’t manufacture products or do installations. In addition, “in most cases the program pays for itself over time with the annual insurance rebates,” explains BCCSA director of COR and injury management, Vernita Hsu. In Alberta for example, COR or SECOR (Small Employer COR) qualifies companies for Workers Compensation Board premium refunds of up to 20 percent. In B.C., Hsu notes that there’s a 10 percent financial incentive from WorkSafeBC for OHS COR certification, but adds that “over time with lower injury rates and lower claim costs, insurance premiums will reflect additional savings.” 

In Ontario, COR is being migrated to COR 2020 to help workplaces qualify for financial rewards and recognition from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. COR2020 has a new format and the audit tool has a reduced number of elements. 

However, Hsu also explains, “our subjective sense is that once a company adopts COR, it helps to increase productivity and also improves other business processes, such as procurement and HR. Companies see the benefits of a formal documented system, continuous improvement through the plan-do-check-act cycle, and so on, and apply them to other areas of operation.”

The length of time required to achieve COR depends on the status of a company’s existing health and safety management system when it starts the certification process. Some may already have systems in place that meet all the requirements, but others will need to augment what they have or develop aspects of their system from scratch. The good news is that many resources are available to make the process as smooth as possible. 

Other benefits
If a rental firm is COR-certified, it may also have more success with worker recruitment. “In an increasingly competitive labour market, where workers have more options for employment, they will choose to work for companies who have their best interests at heart,” Hsu explains. “If you have the option of working for an employer that has a system in place that will ensure you have a close-to-20-percent better chance of avoiding injury and, more importantly, serious injury.” 

Hsu adds that COR is also a practical way of demonstrating to the public that a company takes safety seriously. “COR certification makes a strong statement about a company’s commitment to protecting the well-being of workers and maintaining a culture of safety on jobsites,” she says. “Having a third-party audited system shows the world that someone beyond the company thinks your safety system is good.”

As mentioned, COR certification is also becoming a requirement of doing business. COR is now frequently used as a pre-qualifying and/or condition of contract by both public and private project owners across Canada. Indeed, in part because more of these owners consider COR preferential for bidding purposes, or in some cases a pre-requisite, COR participation in B.C. has increased substantially in recent years, almost doubling since 2010.

Therefore, contractors who want to ensure successful bids only want to work with subcontractors – and perhaps someday even suppliers such as rental stores – that are also COR-certified. In any case, on the job site, it’s a definite advantage to have everyone on board with COR because all health and safety activities will be aligned. 

“Our sense at the BCCSA,” says Hsu, “is that COR demand will continue to grow, because the program has been empirically proven to reduce injuries. There is no other system that can claim to do that.”

Provincial organizations that offer COR certification related to construction
COR certification is granted by various authorities in each province and territory. A straightforward process is available to companies that have achieved COR and would like to request equivalency in another jurisdiction. See program overview at: cfcsa.ca/cor.php 

B.C. – BC Construction Safety Alliance (www.bccsa.ca/COR—-Overview.html) Two COR programs offered depending on company size. 

Alta. – Alberta Construction Safety Association (www.youracsa.ca/cor-secor/) offers COR and SECOR (Small Employer COR).

Sask. – Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (scsaonline.ca/programs/cor) and The Heavy Construction Safety Association of Saskatchewan (hcsas.sk.ca/programs-courses/) 

Man. – Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (mhcaworksafely.ca/cor-program/) and Construction Safety Association of Manitoba (www.constructionsafety.ca/cor-program/) 

Ont. – Infrastructure, Health and Safety Association (www.ihsa.ca/cor-home) 

Que. – ASP Construction (www.asp-construction.org/foire-aux-questions/faq?searchword=cor) 

N.L. – Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association (www.nlcsa.com/cor/index.php) 

N.B. – New Brunswick Construction Safety Association (nbcsa.ca/programs/cor/)

 N.S. – Construction Safety Nova Scotia (constructionsafetyns.ca/cor/)