What is a Certificate of Recognition?
A Certificate of Recognition (COR) is awarded to employers who develop health and safety programs that meet established standards. Certificates are issued by Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour and are co-signed by Certifying Partners.
Achieving and maintaining a valid COR is required for earning a financial incentive through the WCB Partnerships in Injury Reduction program.
What are the benefits of having a COR?
A COR recognizes that the employer’s health and safety management system has been evaluated by a certified auditor and found to meet Partnerships standards.
Effective health and safety management systems have been shown to have an impact on reducing injuries. Eliminating the social and financial effects of injuries can strengthen the business success of participating employers.
Achieving and maintaining a valid COR is required for earning a financial incentive through the WCB Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program. Also, it is not unusual for Alberta corporations to expect contractors bidding on contracts to hold a valid COR.
Note: For employers with fewer than 10 employees there is a “Small Employer COR” available through most of the Certifying Partners involved in Partnerships. The small employer COR process has been developed to accommodate the needs of small businesses. Contact a Certifying Partner for more information.
Get a Certificate of Recognition (COR)
A Certificate of Recognition is awarded through the Partnerships in Injury Reduction Program to employers who develop health and safety programs that meet established standards. Certificates are issued by the Ministry and are co-signed by Certifying Partners.
What is a health and safety management system?
A health and safety management system is a proactive approach to minimizing the risk of injury or illness to workers. The elements of a system include:
- management commitment
- hazard identification and assessment
- hazard control
- worker competency and training
- emergency response planning
- incident investigation
- system administration
Certifying Partners offer courses on implementing health and safety management systems. Contact your Certifying Partner for more information.
What is an audit?
An audit is a comprehensive review of the employer’s health and safety management system. To qualify for a COR, the audit must be carried out by a qualified auditor, using an audit instrument that is approved for Partnerships use and is accepted by a Certifying Partner. The audit will typically cover the basic elements of a health and safety management system and will include interviews, documentation review and observation techniques.
How do I arrange for an audit?
To arrange for an audit an employer should:
- ensure they have a health and safety management system in place
- contact a Certifying Partner to request a list of qualified auditors
- select an auditor with appropriate experience and qualifications for their industry and operations
- arrange with the auditor for the audit to be completed
Note: Where the employer has operations that are covered by more than one WCB account number or industry code, it is important to clearly identify which operations are to be included in the audit and which WCB account number and industry code(s) will be linked to the COR.
When arranging for an audit, an employer should ask about the auditor’s qualifications and experience, and establish a cost estimate for the entire process, including a written report and recommendations. An employer may also request references from the auditor and check with their previous clients as to the level of satisfaction both with cost and product outcome.
The cost of an audit will vary according to the size and complexity of the employer’s operations. Auditors will usually quote a daily rate, based on the number of employees to be interviewed, the number of documents to be reviewed and the scope of operations to be included in the overall audit process.
Note: If an employer has an auditor they regularly contract with, they should check that the auditor is qualified and acceptable to the Certifying Partner who will review the audit. When an employer contracts with a consultant to help in the development and implementation of their health and safety system, that consultant cannot carry out the audit.
If my company has more than one WCB account number and/or industry code does it make a difference to the audit process? Can one audit and COR cover them all?
When an employer arranges for an audit they should determine which operations and/or facilities are to be covered. One audit can be used to cover all the operations of an employer, but when applying for a COR the employer must specify which WCB account, industry code(s) and facilities were covered by the audit.
The WCB account number and industry code(s) covered by the audit will be indicated on the COR when it is issued.
Note: Only one WCB account number can be linked to an individual COR, but multiple industry codes and/or facilities can be assigned to a COR.
Who reviews the audit and actually issues the COR?
The completed audit document should be sent to a Certifying Partner, along with a request for them to review it and issue a COR.
The Certifying Partner will review the audit for quality assurance, and if the audit meets the required standard, will request the COR. The COR will be issued by the Ministry and co-signed by the Certifying Partner.
Note: The audit may be sent to the Certifying Partner directly by the auditor, but ultimately it is the employer requesting the COR who is responsible for ensuring it is received by the Certifying Partner.
How long is a COR valid?
The COR is valid for three years from the date of issue, providing that all maintenance requirements are met. The date the audit is completed on-site is used as the COR issue date.
To maintain a COR, an employer is required to carry out an internal audit within 12 months of the date of the COR, and to carry out a second internal audit within 24 months of the issue date of the COR. Internal audits must be carried out by a qualified auditor.
Internal audits are subject to the same quality assurance review as external audits. Since the internal audit provides an opportunity for employers to ensure all aspects of their health and safety management system are being maintained there is no requirement that a pass mark be obtained. Employees of the COR holder may carry out internal audits if they are qualified.
Note: Employers are expected to maintain their health and safety management system at all times, and to comply with applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. Significant infractions may result in a requirement for further audits of an employer's health and safety management system to maintain the validity of the employer’s COR.
What do I have to do to renew the COR?
To renew a COR, an employer will arrange for an external audit, have it completed and reviewed by their Certifying Partner prior to the expiration date of the COR.
The same standard for a pass mark is required to renew a COR as to acquire a COR. This will usually be at least 80 per cent overall with no less than 50 per cent in each element. The quality assurance standards for renewing a COR are the same as for issuing a COR.
If I have a COR and my company acquires/merges with another company, or sells part of its operations, does the existing COR still apply to the new organization?
When employers change the structure of their business operations they may also be changing the management system of their company. If the management system audited for the original COR is substantially changed by the acquisition/merger or sale, then a new audit would be required and the original COR would not be considered valid.
Where can I get training to help me get a COR?
Most Certifying Partners offer consulting services and training in how to develop and implement a health and safety management system to the standard required to acquire a COR. Consultants in the area of health and safety also offer a variety of services to employers wishing to achieve a COR.
TTY: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton)