Over the years, workplace fatality and injury statistics have demanded safer workplaces for its workers, and the construction industry is no exception. Statistics from the Workers Compensation Boards of Canada consistently places Construction in the top 5 of the most dangerous industries in Canada.
The silver lining is that more and more construction companies are committed to their workers safety and are pursuing the direction that health and safety will not be optional or extra, but rather integral to the company’s operations.
The aspiration for safer workplaces combined with the need for safety programming has been identified in the standards set out by COR™. Beginning in Alberta, COR™ has become a nationally recognized measure of superior safety performance. Currently there are 168 companies across Ontario who have achieved this certification and almost 1,000 others who are in the process.
By participating in the COR™ program and being awarded certification, companies can demonstrate that their health and safety program has been developed, implemented, and evaluated on an annual basis through comprehensive internal and external audits. Intrinsic to the audit process are site visits and interviews with workers. The safety program must be a living, breathing entity within the company where both management and workers have a role in developing programming.
Each one of the 19 Ontario COR™ elements (see below) aims to ensure policies and procedures are in place to manage safety by planning work to minimize personal injury, establishing systems for early detection and COR™ rection of unsafe practices and conditions, and ensuring that they are maintained on an ongoing basis.
- Health & Safety Policy
- Hazard Assessments
- Safe Work Practices
- Safe Work Procedures
- Company Rules
- Preventative Maintenance
- Training & Communication
- Workplace Inspections
- Investigating & Reporting
- Emergency Preparedness
- Statistics & ReCOR™ds
- Occupational Health
- First Aid
- JOHS Rep or Committee
- Workplace Violence
- Return to Work
- Management Review
SCOR™ing is also very strict, where any item set out in the legislation requires a sCOR™e of 100% or the company would receive an automatic fail. A minimum of 65% is needed on each individual element, in addition to an overall average of at least 80% to pass to the audit.
While many aspects of the COR™ program requires companies to go above and beyond, many of the elements are based on requirements already set forth by Provincial safety standards. Most companies should already have an Occupational Health & Safety Policy Statement as well as policies and programs regarding workplace violence and harassment, emergency procedures and return to work, that should be reviewed annually. There are also pre-existing obligations regarding training, workplace inspections, investigating and reporting incidents, first aid and worker representation in either the form of a joint occupational health and safety committee or safety representative.
The second element, Hazard Assessments, is often the most challenging as companies have to identify all of the potential hazards that exist within the company’s operations, and then jointly develop and implement ways to reduce the risk these hazards play. Effective implementation of this element lends itself nicely to the following two elements, Safe Work Practices and Safe Work Procedures, and is fundamentally intrinsic to all of the elements as it identifies how all of the requirements will fit each individual company, based on the work and structure of the organization.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Obtaining COR™ certification can also play a role in the company’s bottom line. Because buyers of construction have adopted it as a measure of safety performance, it provides a competitive advantage over other construction companies that do not. The effects of just one incident on a site could be very bad news financially, socially and economically. Knowing that a company is willing to go through the process to meet the industries established standards in safety can be the difference of getting jobs, or not.
COR™ certification can also open the doors to bid on more jobs. In today’s industry some of the top construction companies or certain sectors will not even allow a company to bid on a project if they are not COR™ certified.
COR™ certification can be an asset if you let it. It's a good way to establish your company in the industry that proves you care about safety in all aspects of your business. At the end of the day this safety standard is placed to protect the company’s most valuable assets, all of its workers.