Audit News & Updates

AMHSA periodically emails an update to auditors. This bi-yearly newsletter contains information regarding auditing changes, FAQ’s, suggestions, and reminders. 


Auditor Update Archive

Please note that contact information on archived newsletters may not be up to date. 

2024 2023 2022

Audits & Municipal Council, including faqs

Further Details   Frequently Asked Questions

New Resource - Audit Question Legislation Guidance

Some audit questions rely on the auditor to ensure an employer’s HSMS adheres to Alberta OHS legislation.  For each question, the guidance document specifies the legislation that the employer’s program should comply to and can assist in auditors quantifying the percentage of positive indicators awarded for each question. For an overview of legislation requirements for first aid training and first aid kits that came into effect March 31, 2023 please reference the Government of Alberta First Aid in the Workplace bulletin. Please contact [email protected] should you have any additional questions.

Audit Question Legislation Guidance 2024

February 2024 Auditor Update

Sampling Approval Change

In the past, AMHSA has offered auditors the option of submitting their sampling plan (“Site Sampling” and “Int. Sampling” worksheets on the Excel workbook) for approval, prior to beginning an audit. Although many auditors take advantage of this opportunity, there is the risk that auditors who don’t obtain pre-approval can submit audits that don’t meet the minimum representative sampling requirements.

Please note that effective immediately (February 1, 2024), we are requiring sampling plans (for both AuditSoft and Excel audits) to be submitted for pre-approval. During your pre-audit preparations phase, please email [email protected] with your completed sampling plan. We also remind you to ensure that the number of sites observed and the number of interviews conducted match the approved sampling plan, prior to submitting the audit. For example, the number of interviews conducted must equal the number in the plan for each employee level.

2024 Auditing Guidelines and Deadlines

Please keep the following in mind while planning and conducting your 2024 audits:

  • Audits must be registered using the Audit Registration form, and once the form is received we will supply the most up-to-date version of the audit tool to be used
  • The use of all audit validation techniques (documentation review, interviews, and observational tours) is again required
  • Data gathering can be conducted either remotely or in-person – please contact AMHSA for information on conducting remote observations
  • 12 months of documentation is required
  • Scoring requirements:
    • COR Certification audits require a score of 80% overall and 50% in each element, and
    • COR Maintenance audits require a score of 60% overall
  • Deadlines:
    • Applications for use of Action Plans in lieu of COR Maintenance audits must be submitted to AMHSA on the official template, by June 30, 2024. To determine if you are eligible and to obtain the template, email [email protected]. We strongly recommend creation of the plan and application earlier in the year, to allow more time to complete the action items.
    • Requests to participate in the external peer audit process are due July 1, 2024. Provide [email protected] with your request including scope information (number of permanent manned worksites and employees), month you’d like your audit conducted, auditors available to perform a peer audit at another municipality, and your contact information.
    • Submission deadline for COR audits is December 1, 2024, and regular deadlines for data gathering (maximum 45 days) and submission (maximum 21 days from last data gathering date) also apply. 

Focus on Quantification

Since 2018, the most common revision required by quality assurance reviews is the need for proper quantification of score in justification notes with positive indicators found. Simply put, quantification is explaining how you arrived at the percentage awarded for the question with a numerical value, based on the criteria in the question. For example, this can be done by:

  • providing x/x documents reviewed that met the question guidelines; or
  • providing x/x required components that were present in policy/process-related questions; or
  • providing x/x legislative requirements that were met; or
  • providing x/x observations that were positive or x/x sites at which positive observations were made.

Restating the score that was awarded based on XX% is not quantification. For example, “Awarded 5/5 based on 100% positive indicators” is NOT acceptable, because your justification notes must provide information on why that question received that percentage.

Note that while we can accept justification notes for Interview questions without quantification (due to the audit tools containing the raw data and automatically calculating those percentages and scores), we still recommend including the x/x positive responses in justification notes as a best practice. This helps the reader understand the interview question scoring.

Please see your Health and Safety Auditing training manual for examples.  

Cascading (Dependent Scoring) Questions

Scoring – there are several questions in the audit tool which utilize a dependent scoring process. The theory behind this scoring technique is that any gap noted at any point in these critical areas is so important that it fundamentally impacts other areas that are dependent on the results. The auditor awards the percentage of positive indicators as usual, for each individual question, and then the Excel workbook checks for dependent/cascading scoring and automatically awards the correct score. Do NOT adjust the percent you award based on the score of the previous question in the cascading questions. Always award the % based on that specific question’s requirements, and the audit tool will do the required math.

Sampling – It should be noted that there are cascading/dependent questions in the areas of Hazard Assessment and Control that require you to use a consistent documentation sample. The Hazard Assessment element starts with 2.01 which cannot be sampled, then in 2.02 the auditor samples the hazard assessment documentation, addressing task lists for a selection of jobs/positions.  

  • In 2.03, the auditor addresses if both health and safety hazards are identified FOR THE TASKS SAMPLED IN QUESTION 2.02.
  • In 2.04, the auditor addresses if each hazard IDENTIFIED IN QUESTION 2.03 has been assessed for risk.  
  • In 2.05, the interviewees must be knowledgeable of the highest hazard tasks related to their operation, IDENTIFIED IN 2.04.
  • In 3.01, the auditor addresses if the hazards identified in 2.03 have controls identified.
  • In 3.02, 3.03, and 3.04, the auditor follows up on a sample of controls IDENTIFIED IN 3.01 to verify implementation.

Justification Notes - Notes should verify that the same sample of documents was used in the cascading/dependent scoring questions, but you do not need to use the same task/hazard as examples in your justification notes for these questions. As in other areas, your justification notes require quantification of score (see Focus on Quantification Article) and examples/detail of findings from the documentation sampled.

Auditor Program Pre-Approved for BCRSP CEUs

AMHSA’s auditor program has been pre-approved for continuing education units (CEUs) by the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) for the purpose of maintaining BCRSP certification. Those who successfully complete the program (Health and Safety Management Systems (HSMS), Health and Safety Auditing, and a qualification audit) are eligible for 1 CEU point under category A9 – Achieving an Additional Certification or License. See the BCRSP website at for further details.

October 2023 Auditor Update


In September 2022, we communicated about the modernization of COR, including background information about why the changes were happening, and the establishment of the Strategic Steering Committee and three new provincial working groups.  

Work has continued over the past year, particularly by the Complexity-Based Scalable Audit (CBSA) Working Group. The Government of Alberta has released two documents on the OHS Resource Portal which provide information and updates related to the work of the CBSA:

The next major milestone is the development of a CBSA prototype by March 2024. Once it is ready, the Certifying Partners, including AMHSA, will engage with their members to gather industry input into the CBSA’s final design. We anticipate this will take place next Spring, and we will be sure to include information about how to participate in the Auditor Update and the AMHSA Newsletter.


  • November 30: deliverables submission for COR Maintenance Action Plans
  • December 1: audit submission for COR Maintenance and COR Certification
  • All audits
    • Data gathering: maximum 45 days
    • Report writing: maximum 21 days
    • Revisions: maximum 15 days per round of changes

Need an extension? Email [email protected] prior to deadline with details.

AMHSA strives to provide initial quality assurance feedback in a timely manner – within two weeks for COR Certification audits and within five weeks for both COR Maintenance and auditor qualification audits.  Auditors who submit in the spring and summer can expect quicker QA turnaround times.


  • Health and Safety Management Systems: February 6-7 or March 5-6
  • Health and Safety Auditing: February 20-21 or March 19-20
  • Audit Refresher: February 8 or April 11
  • SECOR: to be scheduled for April or May

All training is offered virtually. To register, email [email protected].

July 2023 Auditor Update


Requirements for 2023 Auditing are detailed on our website. It’s important to remember that the use of all audit validation techniques (documentation, interviews and observations) is again required, and data gathering can be conducted remotely or in-person. In addition, 12 months of documentation is required for three-year COR certification.  COR Certification audits require a score of 80% overall and 50% in each element to pass, while Maintenance audits require 60% overall.

The external peer audits are currently being arranged, and AMHSA-certified consultant auditors are also available for use. Our Consultant Auditor list has been updated and is now sortable, and includes the auditor’s location and where they are willing will travel.


If you experience issues with your audit due to wildfires or a state of emergency being called, please let us know. There may be options related to extending COR expiry dates or data gathering deadlines in special circumstances for COR Certification audits. Remember that COR Maintenance audits can be conducted at any time during the year, as long as they are submitted to AMHSA by December 1st.


AMHSA’s PHS audit tool is ready for use! It can be used as a stand-alone audit, or it can be used to replace an existing audit element in COR Maintenance years (specific rules apply, contact us for details). The PHS audit is scalable to 3 levels to accommodate the progression of your PHS program. If you are interested in learning more about AMHSA’s PHS audit, please email [email protected].


AMHSA’s quality assurance reviews and processes are audited regularly by Partnerships, and our most recent audit took place this year. In the report, the following strengths of our audits were found:

  • meeting and exceeding interview sampling minimums
  • including operational descriptions
  • strengths and suggestions for improvement are well written, including rationale on why they should be completed (benefit to the HSMS)
  • organization of COR Maintenance action plan deliverables
  • timelines met for data gathering, reporting writing, and QA processes

There were also recommendations for improvement in the report. Before submitting your audit for quality assurance, please check the following items:


  • Interviews were conducted according to plan for each level – the Int. Scoring worksheet (results) must match the Int. Sampling worksheet (plan). Also ensure all required questions were asked of each interviewee.
  • Justification notes support the results for the correct levels (for example, if a question is asked of manager and supervisors, don’t refer to “employee interviews” in your justification notes, as that indicates all levels, specify the level interviewed)
  • Interviews are reflective of audit scope – complete the new area in the Int. Sampling worksheet, explaining how representative sampling is met:

Justification Notes

 Auditor notes must be original, reflect that the question guidelines were followed, indicate the validation method used (reference what documents were reviewed or where observations were completed or who was interviewed), include quantification of score, and provide details from findings.  When answering a documentation question, please refer to the specific document reviewed (e.g., specifying Job Hazard Assessments instead of just stating that system documents were reviewed).  

Suggestions for Improvement

When explaining the benefit to the health and safety management system of implementing the change suggested, the benefit needs to be specific (e.g. training will provide knowledge for supervisors to support the workers), not vague like “benefits the HS program”.


In January 2023, AMHSA adopted the scored Partnerships small employer audit instrument. There are new requirements for employers, and options for both self-assessments (internal) or external audits (by AMHSA-certified auditors). In addition, the following deadlines apply:

  • Data gathering – 15 days
  • Submission – within 21 days of last day of data gathering
  • Annual Submission – December 1, 2023

We have developed a half-day SECOR Refresher course, which is now required training for our SECOR-holders every three years.  The first offering was held virtually on May 2023, and we will schedule another offering for late fall or early 2024. Contact [email protected] to be placed on the waiting list.

New large Employer Audit Tool Launched

The Partnerships audit tool that AMHSA utilizes for large employers in the COR program has been updated due to recent changes made to the legislation. There were also some clarifications made to question guidance, to provide clarification for auditors. AMHSA has also revised the Interview Sampling worksheet to include an indication of whether council is covered by the WCB account being audited, and added the newly approved Council interview questions to the Int. Record worksheet.

In the Audit Tool Changes 2023 document (revised Feb. 2, 2024), we’ve highlighted changes made in the Audit Tool worksheet. Please review with other auditors and your employer to ensure auditors are familiar with the changes and the occupational health and safety management system is kept up-to-date and will meet the revised audit’s requirements.

The 2023 Sampling Update document shows changes made to simplify the process for auditors.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Thank you.

2023 Auditing

Partnerships has confirmed that there are two notable upcoming changes to the COR program, both of which will come into effect on January 1, 2023.

Three validation technique audits restored

Effective January 1, 2023, the use of all audit validation techniques (documentation, interviews and observations) must again be followed. As part of this change:

  • The use of on-site data gathering will not be restricted.
  • Documentation may be reviewed remotely and/or on-site.
  • Interviews may be conducted remotely and/or on-site.
  • Observations must be conducted.

For three-year COR certification, a minimum of 12 months of health and safety system documentation is required. Employers with less than 12 months of documentation may be eligible for a one-year certificate.

The remaining temporary audit measures, which were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, will end on December 31, 2022.

Partnerships in Injury Reduction will continue to monitor any future situations declared as public health emergencies, and will respond should measures be implemented that would affect COR auditing.

New COR audit instruments for 2023

Starting January 1, 2023, all Certifying Partners will implement new audit instruments designed to improve the audit process and make the revisions necessitated by the current Occupational Health and Safety Act. The improvements include the following:

  • The audit questions for Joint Health and Safety Committee/Health and Safety Representative have been updated and simplified.
  • The number of audit questions on violence and harassment has been reduced to align with legislation.
  • For Small Employer COR holders, the audit content has been modernized and aligned with the regular COR instrument.
  • The audit process for owner/operators has been simplified, and the number of audit questions has been reduced by about one-third.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or contact Shannon Thomas or Jessica Meyer.

Page last updated: February 2, 2024