November 19 2020
Core safety program

Achieving a COR certification may seem like a complicated and tedious process. But the right information can help make the process seamless. This article will go through some key points that are important for COR certification.

What is COR?

The Certificate of Recognition or COR is an accreditation program. It certifies that a company has successfully implemented a health and safety system aligning with the national standards. This ensures that the company has a health and safety management system in place to reduce incidents, accidents and injuries, and the financial costs incurred by them. This system is annually audited, evaluated and developed.

COR is trademarked nationally and supported by the members of the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations (CFCSA).

Even though COR is nationally recognized, it must be achieved in the territory or province where your business operates. In Ontario, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association or ISHA offers COR.

COR Certification in Ontario

Achieving a COR certification in Ontario gives you a competitive edge. This certification ensures that you comply with Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is often a pre-qualification for contractors working in the province and in public or private sectors.

assisting companies build their COR certification roadmap

Here are organizations which require a COR in Ontario Province:

· City of Toronto
· Infrastructure Ontario
· Infrastructure Ontario – Direct Delivery Real Estate
· Metrolinx
· Toronto Transit Commission
· York Region
· Greater Toronto Airport Authority
· City of Brampton
· City of Mississauga
· City of Vaughan
· Town of Milton
· City of Ottawa

Benefits of COR

The audit criteria used by COR is recognized by industries across Canada.

Achieving COR can enable you to show buyers of construction that your company has developed, implemented a health and safety management system which is evaluated annually through internal and external audits.

Employers will receive recognition in the industry by achieving COR. People are more inclined to work with companies that are committed to creating a safe working environment.

COR helps build a good reputation for companies in the industry.

Once you have the proof of a health and safety system implemented, you have an edge over your competitors. Sometimes buyers of construction can make COR a requirement and firms with COR have the advantage.

By building an image of a firm that cares about the safety of its workers, more employees would be keen to work with these firms.

COR can help you build an effective health and safety system that makes you proactive and ensures the safety of your employees.



COR Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a COR program, employers first need to have an active Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) account. If employers have multiple accounts, they intend to achieve COR for, each account should be registered separately. And the respective WSIB firm numbers should be provided to IHSA. IHSA will only audit the accounts that have registered for COR. To achieve COR, each WSIB account must achieve its own COR.

According to the IHSA recommendation, employers should have a working health and safety program in place for minimum one year. This program should include the 19 elements for IHSA’s COR audit. The internal and external auditors will consider these elements during the audit.

Here are the 19 elements in the IHSA’s COR Audit Tool.

    • Policy Statement
    • Hazard Analysis
    • Safe Work Practices
    • Safe Job Procedures
    • Company Rules
    • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Preventive Maintenance
    • Training & Communication
    • Workplace Inspections
    • Investigations & Reporting
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Statistics & Records
    • Legislation
    • Occupational Health
    • First Aid
    • Health & Safety Representative/Joint Health and Safety Committee
    • Workplace Violence & Harassment
    • Return to Work
    • Management Review

Internal Auditor Qualification

One permanent full-time employee can be appointed by the employer as the Internal Auditor. To qualify as an Internal Auditor the employee should complete the following IHSA training:

    • COR Essentials (1/2 days)
    • COR Internal Auditor (1 day)
    • Basic Auditing Principles (1 day)
    • Introduction to Hazard & Risk Management (1 day)

The employee’s record and internal audit should be submitted to IHSA for registration.

Responsibilities of an Internal Auditor

These are some of the responsibilities that an Internal Auditor will have:

  • Managing and supervising the company’s COR program.
  • Completing the internal audit and submitting the documentation to the IHSA.
  • Building a written action plan to consistently improve the program.
  • Providing any required information to the External Auditor
  • Acting as an intermediary between the employer and IHSA for any communication related to the program.

External Auditor

External auditor is an IHSA employee appointed to perform auditing services. Their responsibilities include:

  • Carry out COR audit
  • Review a company’s Internal Audit
  • Communicate with employer’s regarding audit requirements
  • Create audit reports


assisting companies build their COR certification roadmap


Audit Procedure

The auditing process begins when the auditor has completed the required training and is ready to gather all the required information for the COR audit. The Internal Auditor conducts the internal audit of the health and safety management system using IHSA COR Audit Tool. This process includes reviewing the documentation that supports the evidence for the health and safety management system of the organization. After which interviews are conducted and then the work environment is observed to ensure that the system is implemented.

Reviewing Documents

The verification of all the documents is done before the interviews.The auditor will review all the documentation related to the health and safety management system. Assess the contents of the company’s health and safety manual, records and forms associated with it. The auditor will look for evidence of the company’s health and safety practices and procedures. Records and forms are checked for completeness of various aspects like dates, attendance, signatures, agenda items and more.


Auditors conduct interviews to see how well the employees are familiar with the health and safety program implemented by the company. Employees including the management and workers are interviewed to verify certain elements. The auditor will gather all these responses given by the interviewees and mark them accordingly. Interviews will be one on one and group interviews are not accepted.

It is expected that the senior management informs various department supervisors to ensure that all employees are aware of the purpose of the audit. The auditor will ask each employee questions relevant to their jobs.


The purpose of an observation is to justify all the information received from documentation and interviews. By observing the auditor will see whether the workers are following all the health and safety procedures.


The internal audit is reviewed by IHSA and then followed up by external audit, which is done by one of IHSA staff members. After the completion of both the audits, the Certificate Of Recognition is granted to the employer.

Both internal and external audits should meet the following scoring requirements:

  • Each element should have a minimum score of 65%
  • Overall audit should have a score of 80%
  • Legislated requirements should have a 100% score

COR Cycle

COR is valid for three years from the date when the certificate has been issued. But the employers do need to conduct internal audits in the second and third years and comply with all the terms and conditions of the COR program. A letter of good standing is issued for a 12 months period during the 2nd and 3rd years when the employer completes internal audits.

Year 1: Achieving COR after Internal and external audit.
Year 2: Letter of good standing is granted after internal audit.
Year 3: Letter of good standing is granted after internal audit.
Year 4: Re-register for external audit.

assisting companies build their COR certification roadmap

Safeline can assist your business meet all the goals and requirements related to the COR program by providing the following services:

· Gap Analysis and COR™ Program Development & Review
· COR™ Program Implementation with Action plans and timelines
· COR™ Spot audit / Field visits
· COR™ Internal Audit Assistance
· COR™ Maintenance and Monitoring

Contact us for assistance building up your road map to COR™ certification milestone.