The case for the COR: Safer workplaces, higher efficiency, and enhanced bidding opportunities

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Panelists discussed the CoR program at Construct Canada. From left: Adrian Bartha, CEO at eCompliance; Ball Construction Inc. president Jason Ball; Lawrence Quinn, senior vice-president at Infrastructure Ontario; David Frame, the OGCA's director of government relations; and IHSA vice-president Paul Casey.

There are compelling business arguments for contractors to go through the hoops to achieve the Certificate of Recognition (COR) for construction safety practices, a panel of industry safety leaders said at a Construct Canada panel discussion

The COR program, a challenging safety management audit and certification system, requires plenty of effort and (for most businesses) the equivalent of a full-time employee to administer, but there are major payoffs in business efficiency, much improved safety, and compliance with requirements for the certification that are being set by a growing number of major owners, including Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and the City of Toronto.

Ball Construction Inc. president Jason Ball said COR isn’t easy to achieve. Among Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) members, about 25 of close to 200 members have achieved the certification with about 50 others on the way.

However, as the program becomes more widespread, it is easier to find resources and support, including mentoring groups, and the advantages are quite tangible.

“In our first year with COR, we achieved a substantial reduction in injuries. In fact, since we adopted it, we’ve seen a 52 per cent decrease in injuries.”

These aren’t major injuries, “strains and sprains and things like that,” but under COR, these issues are tracked – and contractors need to find out why the injuries are happening, and how things can be improved.

Besides creating a healthier and safer work environment, “if you want to give up working for certain customers, then give up COR,” Ball said.

IO senior vice-president Lawrence Quinn said safety is not something that should be compromised.

The costs of achieving COR certification and elevating safety standards can be contrasted to the consequences of a serious accident, he said. “All you have to do is have just one serious accident.” There will be “an audit, an inquest – the costs generated from the single accident that dwarfs the entire cost of safety programs 10-fold.”

Paul Casey, vice-president at the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA), which administers the program in Ontario, said a compelling reason for contractors to achieve COR is the increasing number of owners requiring the certification to qualify for contracts.

In addition to IO and the City of Toronto, other organizations such as the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx require COR for major contracts – and the Region of York will require it in the near future, he said.

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