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How to get a Certificate of Recognition (COR)

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The Certificate of Recognition (COR) is a business standard that helps you improve your health and safety—and reduce your costs. This made-in-Canada certification tells employees and partners you care about health and safety, and allows you to satisfy provincial legal standards.

COR also saves you money by reducing your injury rate, worker compensation premiums, legal risks, property damage and lost productivity. Another plus is that COR provides access to markets where certification is mandatory for suppliers.

“COR minimizes risks to employees and your organization, and it can provide significant cost savings,” says BDC Consultant Fred Andersen, who advises entrepreneurs on COR and other certifications. “Safety also goes hand in hand with quality. A company with good safety also tends to have good housekeeping and be well organized.”

Andersen suggests these seven steps to get COR certified.

1) Get management commitment—A successful certification requires owner and management commitment. You should also appoint an employee to coordinate the certification process.

“It can’t just be about reducing your workers compensation premiums. If owners and managers aren’t committed to health and safety and don’t put someone in charge, your chance of success is reduced,” Andersen says.

2) Learn your legal obligations—Find out about the health and safety legal requirements in your province or territory. “Most smaller companies aren’t aware of their obligations,” Andersen says. “If you have an incident and haven’t taken steps to minimize safety risks, you’re open to heightened liability.”

3) Create a health and safety program—Put in place a health and safety management program if you don’t already have one. The core of your program should be a health and safety manual. This is a comprehensive guide that spells out safe job practices in your business. You should also have adequate protective equipment, employee training, documentation and worksite inspections.

4) Get audited—Your next step is to contact a COR certifying partner to get your health and safety management program audited. A certifying partner is an industry association officially designated to do COR audits. Designated associations exist in most provinces and territories.

Before getting started, the certifying partner first trains selected employees on the COR program. It can also review your health and safety program to make sure it’s ready to be audited.

An audit typically requires six to nine months of evidence the program has been in operation. The audit includes employee interviews, workplace observations and a review of your health and safety program documentation and record keeping. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are eligible to get a Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR), which has less onerous requirements. It requires only a self-assessment, not an external audit.

5) Continually monitor and improve—Good health and safety practices aren’t a one-shot deal. They involve continual attention, including regular COR or SECOR audits and recertification. “Safety should be a way of life,” Andersen says.

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