Audit News & Updates

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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, 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.


Councillor interview questions

Does the municipality you are auditing have Workers Compensation Board (WCB) coverage that includes municipal elected officials (Councillors)?

As an AMHSA COR Certified Auditor, during your Health and Safety Auditing course, you received Government of Alberta (GoA) Partnerships direction regarding the inclusion of Council members in audit interview sampling if the municipality being audited has WCB coverage that includes municipal elected officials (Councillors).

In response to recent feedback from municipal COR holders about this subject, AMHSA has worked closely with Government of Alberta (GoA) Partnerships on the approval of a custom set of 9 interview questions specific to municipal Councillors which will be implemented for 2023 audits (if Council is included under the municipal WCB account being audited for COR), to support member/auditor clarity.

Communication has been distributed to municipal COR-holder CAOs, explaining the current requirements, the exemption to the end of 2022, and availability of the option to remove council from the WCB account. To view the communication sent to municipal CAO’s, including frequently asked questions, click here.

The following questions have been approved for use for Council member interviews in 2023:

  • What are some of the key points listed in the Health and Safety Policy?
  • Can you provide some examples of how the three OHS Rights (right to be informed, right to participate, and right to refuse dangerous work) apply to the work you do for this organization?
  • Can you provide some examples of legislation that is applicable to you under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code?
  • What kinds of resources are provided to implement and improve the health and safety system?
  • What are some of the highest hazard tasks associated with the organization’s operations?
  • What type of training have you received in emergency response?
  • What is the process you follow for reporting incidents (including near misses), occupational illnesses or work refusals?
  • How is senior management/management involved in the performance of the health and safety management system (e.g., develop a health and safety plan for the upcoming year, provide resources for health and safety initiatives, etc.).
  • How is senior management/management held accountable for the HSMS? How does the organization communicate the results of health and safety system evaluations to employees?

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.  The Government of Alberta, 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


Page last updated: January 16, 2023.