Audit News & Updates

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ModerniZation of COR (Auditor Update Sept. 2022)

The Certificate of Recognition (COR) program continues to benefit Alberta employers, as it has since its inception in 1989.  Alberta Labour and Immigration Occupational Health and Safety, in collaboration with AMHSA and other Certifying Partners (CPs), is exploring initiatives to modernize and improve the COR program, driving improvements in health and safety outcomes for Alberta employers and workers.

The following initiatives are the result of an extensive evaluation of the Certificate of Recognition (COR) program in 2018, including two external studies, which concluded that the COR program must evolve. Key recommendations implemented to date include:

  • Establishing a Strategic Steering Committee (SSC) with representation from Certifying Partners (CPs), Labour and the Workers’ Compensation Board. Led by government, the SSC sets the direction for the COR program including the development of a strategic plan.
  • Clarifying key roles, including the Alberta government focusing on program policy to ensure the system operates as intended; and CPs focusing on program delivery to ensure employers and auditors meet provincial COR standards.
  • Creating COR eligibility for employers holding certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 45001:2018) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Z45001).

Three CP-led working groups were established to develop the most critical components of the COR strategic plan and despite being slowed by the advent of COVID they have made considerable progress. The working groups are engaged in the following topic areas.

  • Complexity Based and Scalable Audit (CBSA) – the working group is designing new provincial audit criteria and an audit instrument, with the intent that they will eventually replace the current COR audit instruments, to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the audit process.
    • To date, the working group has developed a detailed project plan, identified the criteria to determine employer complexity, and developed a communication plan. The group is now focused on developing the content criteria for the audit tool.
  • Auditor Qualification, Training and Certification (AQTC) – the working group is updating standardized requirements for auditor qualifications, training and certification for all CPs. This will improve consistency by establishing a common set of auditor competencies.
    • The working group has developed a competency profile for safety management system auditors, and participated in the development of the communication plan with the CBSA working group. The work on this topic area was paused in April, to allow members to join the CBSA working group to add resources to develop the CBSA audit criteria.
  • COR Harmonization and Measurement – the working group is developing standard COR metrics for program measurement, and looking beyond Alberta’s borders to work towards COR harmonization between the provinces.
    • The working group has developed a set of metrics for the program, and the WCB is currently working on developing the reports.
    • To further interprovincial COR harmonization, the department participates on the National COR Working Group facilitated through the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC).

AMHSA is participating on each of the three working groups and is committed to keeping you informed about progress and impacts to the COR program. The June 2022 Auditor Update details the Partnerships in Injury Reduction Standards that have recently been updated and the resulting key changes to the large employer COR audit criteria, effective January 1, 2023.


Partnerships in Injury Reduction 2021 Refunds

In 2021, over 43% of Alberta’s workforce was covered by an employer with a valid COR - that’s 10,700 COR holders forecasted to receive Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) refunds from WCB-Alberta!

Total refunds for 2021 are projected to equal over $71 million returned to Alberta employers.

AMHSA is proud to be the municipal Certifying Partner for COR. Although AMHSA had the 8th largest total number of COR-holders, our employers earned the 5th highest PIR rebates, at over $4.25 million.

Congratulations to the employers, auditors, and employees involved in the COR program in Alberta!


Auditor Update June, 2022:

Provincial Changes Impacting AMHSA Auditing

AMHSA has been participating in several provincial subcommittees of the Certifying Partner group, revising Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) program Standards. The Standards that have been updated, effective April 1, 2022, include COR Audit Criteria, SECOR Audit Criteria, OHS Management System Training Content Criteria, Glossary of Terms, and Auditor Training Content Criteria.

The recent changes to OHS legislation necessitated a review of the Standards, which will impact the content of our training (both the Health and Safety Management Systems and the Health and Safety Auditing courses) and the content of both the COR and SECOR audit tools. AMHSA is currently revising its training to meet the new Standards, and a revised audit tool will be formally reviewed by Partnerships for approval. Once approval is obtained, we will update our Excel, AuditSoft and eCompliance versions, and provide them to members before the required January 1, 2023 implementation date.

Watch the website and future Auditor Updates for more information and details.

Large Employer COR

Key changes to the large employer COR audit criteria:

  • Allowance of applicable legislation (Alberta or Federal) can be used to answer legislation questions.
  • Hazard assessments are to be reviewed on pre-determined frequency instead of regular basis.
  • A reduction in the number of questions around violence and harassment was made to simplify the requirements.
  • The Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committees and Health and Safety Representatives element was updated to match new legislation requirements.
  • The term self-employed persons was removed as self-employed persons now fall under the definition of employer as per the new OHS legislated definition.
  • Minimum requirements around cascade scoring of questions are now applicable to all Certifying Partners.

Key changes to the COR audit tool:

  • Clarification on related questions will be provided to indicate that if no policy/process exists, then points can not be awarded for completed forms (e.g., no frequency stated in policy means no points for completing inspections).
  • Revisions to guidelines will be made for clarity on what to review and how to score.
  • Refresher training and competency assessment audit questions will be separated to emphasize the difference and importance of each.

SECOR

In addition to the COR audit tool changing, the Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR) audit tool that AMHSA has been using will no longer be available as of January 1, 2023. The current tool is a “yes/no” audit, while the replacement will be a scored version, and content will be updated as a result of the committee work above. 

Key changes to the SECOR audit criteria:

  • Allowance of applicable legislation (Alberta or Federal) can be used to answer legislation questions
  • Addition of an element for Health and Safety Representative
  • Addition of element addressing Other Employers
  • No cascading of question scoring, however, no sampling will be permitted for the first 3 questions within the hazard identification and assessment element.
  • The overall SECOR content will be aligned with the regular COR audit where appropriate
  • New definition will be provided for owner/operators

Key changes to the SECOR audit tool:

  • 10 elements
  • Excel format for calculations
  • Employer and auditor information required
  • Element 4 can be N/A for anyone not legislatively required to have a Health and Safety Representative
  • Point values assigned to each question for scoring

Audit Registration

Starting July 1st all AMHSA audits will need to be registered before beginning an audit.

AMHSA Audit Registration Form


Auditor Update March, 2022:

Remote Auditing Continues

  • March: The on-site data gathering suspension has been lifted. Auditors may now resume on-site data gathering activities, or continue to work remotely. Prior to conducting on-site data gathering activities, both the auditor and employer must agree that on-site work can be safely conducted. The use of observations remains optional.
  • The resumption or suspension of on-site data gathering activities will be re-evaluated quarterly, and status updated one month in advance of every quarter. AMHSA will post updates on the website and announce any changes in future Auditor Updates.

Audit Techniques

  • Remote interviews can be conducted using web-based platforms (Teams, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) or telephone calls or video calls. No pre-approval is necessary to use telephone interviews in 2022.
  • Remote documentation review can be arranged via electronic access (Teams, Sharepoint, safety software), documents can be delivered on a thumb drive, or hard copies can be sent by courier or safe drop-off can be arranged.
  • Observations are optional.

COR CERTIFICATION OR RECERTIFICATION (EXTERNAL) AUDITS

  • Documentation review (minimum 6 months of previous 12-month period) and representative interviews required.
  • Minimum of 80% overall score is required to pass the audit. No minimum element scores are required.

COR MAINTENANCE

  • Documentation review (minimum 6 months of previous 12-month period) and representative interviews required.
  • Minimum of 60% overall score required to pass audit. No minimum element scores are required.
  • Option to use Action Plans in lieu of COR Maintenance audits is available to AMHSA COR-holders who are eligible. Application deadline has been extended to June 30, 2022 (we recommend earlier) and AMHSA deadline to submit deliverables is December 1, 2022.

SECOR

  • Minimum 6 months documentation review of previous 12-month period is required.
  • 80% overall score and no less than 50% in each element for Certification audits
  • 60% overall score for Maintenance audits

AUDITOR QUALIFICATION

  • Complete required training (Health and Safety Management Systems + Health and Safety Auditing) and pass exams
  • AMHSA deadline to complete and submit qualification audit from 2022 training is six months – contact us if you need an extension due to conducting COR Maintenance audit as qualifying audit

QUESTIONS? Contact our audit team by emailing audits@amhsa.net, shannon@amhsa.net, or jessica@amhsa.net.


EXTERNAL PEER AUDIT PROCESS

The deadline to request participation in the peer process for COR Certification in 2022 is June 1st!

Submit the following information to shannon@amhsa.net:

  • Month in which you want the audit to be conducted
  • Number of employees and sites
  • Auditors available to audit another municipality
  • New audit registration form

As always, we expect to receive several requests from municipalities who are unable to contribute auditors to the process, and we rely on volunteers to conduct these audits. If you are willing to participate in or lead a COR Certification for a municipality in need, please let us know!

CONSULTANT AUDITORS

The list of AMHSA-certified consultant auditors is available on the website, if you are not participating in the peer process.


Page last updated: September 27, 2022.