COR® Frequently Asked Questions
Certificate of Recognition® (COR®) is a nationally recognized contractor safety management program, and the health & safety certification standard for the construction industry. COR® is also the health and safety tender document required by various levels of Government as well as by most major construction purchasers.
COR® standards are set by industry and implemented by the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations (CFCSA). Each member association under the CFCSA has jurisdiction for COR® in its province or territory. As such, the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association (NLCSA) is the exclusive provider of COR® in this province.
PRIME (Prevention + Return-to-Work + Insurance Management for Employers/Employees) is the Workplace Health & Safety Compensation Commission’s (i.e., WorkplaceNL’s) employer incentive program which rewards employers that have sound occupational health and safety and return-to-work policies, program and practices and favourable claims costs. In order for a construction company to be eligible for PRIME refunds from WorkplaceNL it must be COR® certified and in good standing as of December 31st each year. More information on the PRIME refund is available from WorkplaceNL.
A company achieves COR® certification through participation in training, development of a health and safety program and participation in third-party verification of the implementation of the program – refer to the Four Steps to Certification. Throughout the certification process, the NLSCA will issue the company a Letter of Good Standing (LoGs) to indicate that they have met the COR® program requirements. Similarly, once certified, the NLCSA will continue to issue Letters of Good Standing provided that the company continues to meet the COR® maintenance (Internal/External Audit) requirements.
That depends largely on how quickly the company moves through the Four Steps to Certification, and any additional training requirements, but most companies achieve their Certificate of Recognition® within 4 to 6 months of starting the process, and almost all companies achieve COR® certification within 12 months from the completion of the 5-day COR® training.
The NLCSA will send you a reminder letter and a blank Internal Audit instrument approximately 90 days before your Internal Audit is due. The letter will list the supporting documentation to be included with your audit. This may include: minutes from recent toolbox meetings; OHS Committee minutes; inspections; hazard assessments; monthly safety summary; maintenance documentation; annual comprehensive hazard assessment; fall protection inspection reports, a copy of the ESRTW program (for Large PRIME assessment employers only), and/or other documentation, as applicable.
Yes, the blank COR® Audit Instrument is available for free download from COR® Materials under the Resource Library section of our website.
An NLCSA Safety Advisor will review your audit instrument and supporting documentation. Based on the information provided, any corrective actions will be noted and you will have 30 days to provide the requested information indicating that you had addressed the noted deficiencies. Once all issues have been satisfactorily addressed, a new letter of Good Standing (LoGs) is issued to your anniversary date (i.e., the date that corresponds with the last completed External Audit). If this is an External Audit year for your company, once your Internal Audit is reviewed, you will be given a list of corrective actions to be addressed prior to your External Audit, usually scheduled within 60 days. In that case you would not be required to submit information on the corrective actions, as those issues would be verified during the External Audit process.
Any corrective actions noted would be as a result of a deficiency in your health and safety program and should be addressed as soon as possible. If circumstances are such that you cannot address an issue within the timeframe provided (i.e. training not available in your community), the NLCSA will consider issuing an extension. However, this may necessitate the restriction of certain activities within your company, for example, if you have workers that don’t have valid Fall Protection training, they would not be able to work at heights of over 3 meters until they have completed the necessary training.
No. The NLCSA has a team of Safety Advisors, most of whom are involved in delivering training, providing member services, and conducting External Audits, any of which could take them away from their office for extended periods of time. COR® submissions are tracked in a central database that all NLCSA Safety Advisors have access to, which means that any one of our Safety Advisors can respond to your submissions, questions or concerns more quickly than if you waited to speak to a specific Safety Advisor.
At our company a team of two or three people do the Internal Audit collectively. Which one of us should sign the audit?
It is up to the company to decide who, internally, is best to conduct or lead the COR® audit. That person is named as the Auditor, and by signing the audit instrument, he or she is taking responsibility for its contents. As of January 1, 2016 New Internal Auditor Requirements came into effect. The auditor will need to have completed either the NLCSA’s 5-day COR® training program or its 1-day Auditor Certification course.
Our goal is to get Internal Audits processed within a two-week period, however that can vary depending on the time of year and how complete your submission is. We have over 1,000 companies involved in the COR® program and on average we receive over 300 individual document submissions per month. October, November and December are even busier for audits because many COR® companies rush to get their audits and related submissions in by the end of the year so that they will be eligible for the PRIME refund. Regardless of what time of the year it is, your Internal Audit will be delayed if the audit and documentation you submit is inaccurate or incomplete.
Most Internal Audit delays happen as a result of audit instruments that are incomplete and/or filled out incorrectly, and/or were not accompanied by the requested supporting documentation. To facilitate the timely processing of your Internal Audit, ensure that all requested documentation is included and that that audit instrument is properly and fully completed.
Why would more items be added to the list of required submissions after I have provided some or all of the items previously requested?
Generally, this should not happen. If the NLCSA requested five (5) items after your Internal Audit was reviewed and you submitted three (3), the correspondence you receive should simply restate the two (2) outstanding items. However, on occasion, you may have provided information in your submissions that gave rise to additional issues or questions. For example, you may have submitted minutes from a Toolbox Talk at a site that the NLCSA was not aware of and as such, we could request confirmation of a trained Worker Health and Safety Representative for that site. If at any time, the NLCSA requests information that you feel is unjustified or adds no benefit to health and safety in your business, you are strongly encouraged to contact us for clarification.
No. During the process of becoming COR® certified the company must send in its safety manual. Once the company’s safety manual has been reviewed and accepted, and the company has been COR® certified, NLCSA will return the safety manual to the company. There is no need to send in the manual thereafter. Note: NLCSA does not keep a copy of the manual. The company should continue to update its safety manual as appropriate, and the manual will be reviewed during future External Audits.
Some documentation is required by legislation, and some is specifically required under the COR® program to reflect best practices in the industry in demonstrating due diligence. Doing the right things in health and safety is obviously an important part of protecting your workers. Documenting the right things helps protect the company and its owner(s), manager(s) and supervisor(s). COR® helps you keep track of your company’s health and safety programs, procedures, records, training certificates etc. Consider it similar to the Canada Revenue Agency doing a financial audit on an income tax return. If you didn’t keep your receipts and other documentation you have no proof of your revenue and expenses. Likewise, if you don’t keep your health and safety documentation it would be a significant gap in proving your due diligence.
The External Audit will be conducted by an NLCSA Safety Advisor at a mutually agreeable time and place(s). Based on the Advisor’s site observations, interviews with management, supervisors, workers and OHS members, and documentation review, a report will be prepared and provided to the company. The report will include:
- Corrective actions and required submissions;
- Recommendations; and
- Commendations (the things that are being done very well)
The company is generally given 60 days, from the time the report is released, to address corrective actions. We would prefer that proof of all corrective actions be submitted to us at one time; however, in cases where there may be an unavoidable delay in addressing some corrective actions, we will accept multiple submissions.
Extensions are possible, at NLCSA’s discretion, however the company must prove that the reason(s) for not being able to meet the 60 day timeline was beyond their control and that they are actively working towards meeting the corrective actions. Depending on the issue(s) the company’s activity may be restricted until the corrective action is addressed (for example, the company may be restricted from working in areas where they may come into contact with power lines until workers have completed approved power line hazards training).
I sent in all of the information that the NLCSA requested but I did not hear back. Does that mean I am or am not in good standing?
If you made a submission to the NLCSA and did not hear back, you are strongly encouraged to contact us and follow up. Depending on how you submitted the information, we may not have actually received it. For example, if you emailed it, it may have been mistaken for spam and deleted. If you faxed it in, but did not put your company name on it, we may have received the submission, but had no way of identifying the company that sent in the information. On the other hand, we may have received it and processed it and the reply was not received on your end. The NLCSA logs every submission received, whether Internal or External Audit, corrective actions, name changes and other requests and we would have a record of when it was received and when it was processed. If you are unsure, contact us at any time.
Why does it seem that NLCSA is adding more requirements through the Internal and External Audit process?
On occasion new requirements are introduced within the COR® program, due to one or more of the following:
- New requirements under the provincial OHS Act and Regulations or the Federal Canada Labour Code;
- New PRIME requirements;
- Other new WorkplaceNL requirements; and/or
- COR® initiated requirements to meet best practices and/or national standards.
For example, when the provincial OHS Regulations were revised in 2009, one of the items we needed to add to our COR® program was the requirement for hearing conservation programs. To the extent possible, members will be provided with ample and sufficient lead time and assistance to meet any new requirements. Any proposed changes to COR® Program requirements are vetted through the NLCSA Technical Committee and then put forward to the Board of Directors for review and final approval/rejection.
Any changes to the COR® Program would be communicated to members through the audit review feedback, quarterly newsletter (that is sent to all NLCSA members) and biweekly electronic newsflashes (that is sent to those who subscribe). It is the members’ responsibility to read the newsletters and electronic newsflashes. If you haven’t already signed up for the free biweekly electronic news flashes you are encouraged to do so. To subscribe you need to sign-up through our website. Subscription is quick and easy by clicking on the orange sign up bar at the top of our homepage, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. For the most up to date information, follow the NLCSA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Why would the NLCSA request something that has nothing to do with the type of construction work that my company does?
This should not happen. We may have misunderstood something that you included in your Internal Audit. For example, if your company does not handle or transport dangerous goods, but you did not mark that section of the audit Not Applicable, we can only assume that it applies to you and therefore we could potentially request proof that workers have been trained in the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG). If at any time, the NLCSA requests information that you feel is unjustified or adds no benefit to health and safety in your business, you are strongly encouraged to contact us for clarification.
NLCSA keeps a record of all safety training that a company or individual has done with the NLCSA since our inception in 1997. Through the ‘Member Access’ section of our website, companies can look up their own records of safety training completed with us. The NLCSA has no ability to access training records from other training providers. For some courses, WorkplaceNL has developed a Certification Training Registry that will contain a permanent electronic record of a worker’s training. At present WorkplaceNL’s Certification Training Registry only applies to the following courses: Fall Protection; Fall Protection Re-certification; Confined Space Entry; Traffic Control Person; Power Line Hazards; Occupational Health and Safety Committee; First Aid; Mine Rescue and Diving. Click here to view WorkplaceNL’s website or here to link to the Certified Training Registry.
That will depend on your company’s status. If the company has not yet reached the ‘Audit Pending’ stage, another person will have to take the full 5-day COR® training program. If your company is at the ‘Audit Pending’ or the ‘COR® certified’ stage, we would still recommend that someone in the company complete the full COR® training program. However, to continue with COR®, the person conducting your Internal Audit will have to have attended at least, the NLCSA’s 1-day Auditor Certification training course.
From the time that a company receives its COR® certification it is another year before the Internal Audit is due and three years before another External Audit is due. That’s a long time between audits. Is there an opportunity for another External Audit before then?
Yes, six months after the initial External Audit NLCSA may conduct an interim audit at no charge, if in the opinion of the auditor, the company would likely need assistance. Also, a COR® company can request extra External Audits at any time outside of their normal audit cycle, however, it would be at cost, plus all travel expenses. (The standard flat fee for an External Audit, that is part of the normal audit cycle, is $525 plus HST including all travel expenses, as it is subsidized by the construction industry levy.)
If your company ‘needs’ a LoGs to meet tender requirements, for payment, or for another valid reason, we will prioritize a review of your file/submission upon your written request and receipt of proof of the tender (or other requirement/reason).
My company was COR® certified some time ago, but I have fallen out of good standing. How can I get a new Letter of Good Standing (LoGs)?
The amount of time that has passed will dictate what you need to do to be eligible for a LoGs. Generally, if it has been less than one year, you can get back in good standing by “picking up where you left off”, that is submit any required information. If more than one year has passed, you would likely have to complete another Internal Audit and/or participate in an External Audit as well. However, if your company has been out of good standing for a considerable amount of time, you will be required to re-submit your safety manual, conduct an Internal Audit and participate in an External Audit before the NLCSA will consider issuing a LoGs. Any audit submitted must be completed by a certified auditor.
The deadline to verify PRIME requirements through the Internal or External Audit process is December 31st each year. In rare circumstances, through no fault of the company, it is not possible for NLCSA to conduct an External Audit before year end. In such cases NLCSA will request the following information (in addition to the documentation submitted with the Internal Audit) to assist in the verification of the PRIME requirements:
- Policies signed and dated;
- ESRTW Program information (For Large PRIME employers)
- OHS Committee membership and meeting information/dates;
- Injury Report System; and
- Proof of training for compliance courses (i.e., First aid, Fall Protection, Confined Space, etc.)
If everything requested is in order, the NLCSA will include the company in the list provided to WorkplaceNL of construction companies eligible for a PRIME refund. The External Audit will be conducted at the earliest possible occasion in the New Year. If the External Audit identifies that the company had not, in fact, met all of the PRIME requirements, WorkplaceNL would be notified accordingly.
Is the COR® Letter of Good Standing the same as WorkplaceNL’s Letter of Good Standing/ Certificate of Clearance?
No, the COR® Letter of Good Standing is a document issued only to participants of the COR® program. In Newfoundland and Labrador it can only be issued by the NLCSA and must be signed by the CEO of the NLCSA and/or a designated person.
I have changed the name of my company. How do I get this updated on my COR® certificate and Letter of Good Standing?
If you have simply changed the name of your company, all you have to do is send a copy of the Articles of Amendment to the NLCSA and we will update our records accordingly. However, if you have started a new company that will be taking over the operations of the COR® certified company, the NLCSA would have to determine if the new company had successor rights to the original company.
My company is COR® certified but we recently acquired another company. Does my COR® status extend to that new company?
No. COR® certification is awarded to an individual company based on their implementation of an appropriate health and safety program. However, we recognize that it is possible for more than one company to fall under the umbrella of a single health and safety program, particularly when there is common ownership, management and/or workers. If this is the case, you can apply for Multiple Company status. The Multiple Company Application form is available online. In order for the COR® certification to extend to the new company, the NLCSA will have to conduct an External Audit on the operations of that company.
My company is COR® certified in another province but we are doing some work in Newfoundland and Labrador. Will our COR® certification be recognized here?
There is a national Reciprocity agreement under the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations (CFCSA) that recognizes COR® certification throughout the country. Based on your COR® status with another CFCSA Member, the NLCSA will issue a Letter of Good Standing for bidding purposes. Once you are successful and start work in this province, you must contact the NLCSA to make arrangements to meet any additional, provincial specific, requirements and you must conduct an Internal Audit on your operations in this province. Reciprocity Application forms are available online. There is one form for companies registered in Quebec and another form for companies registered in the other provinces or territories – be sure to use the correct form.
Often, a construction purchaser, such as the provincial government, requires that any company providing construction or construction-related services, be in good standing in the COR® Program. If the organization you are being contracted by is requiring COR® certification, it is likely because of the nature of the work you are being asked to undertake. For example, the hazards related to snow clearing are very similar to those associated with any construction work requiring the operation of heavy equipment.