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The Ultimate Guide to COR Certification in Canada

By Avetta Marketing
December 05, 2020
8 minutes
The Ultimate Guide to COR Certification in Canada

COR Certification in Canada: The Complete Guide

Because occupational health and safety practices are key for reducing worker illness and injury, an audit program such as the COR certification in Canada can provide a vehicle for recognizing and encouraging organizational participation. 

We know you have questions, so here are the detailed answers to:

  • What is a COR certification?

  • What are the benefits a COR certification gives an organization?

  • Is COR certification in Alberta and other provinces the same as COR certification in Canada?

  • How can your organization become COR-certified?

  • How can your organization maintain its COR?

  • Does COR give your organization a competitive advantage?

Our Avetta experts weigh in so you’ll have all the information you need to make the right decisions for your organization.


What Is a COR Certification?


COR stands for Certificate of Recognition. COR uses voluntary, self-audit programs to recognize and encourage occupational health and safety practices. When certain health and safety benchmarks are met, organizations are provided incentives such as reduced premiums and claims costs (among other benefits such as lowered accident rates).

There are 14 COR elements that are scored during audits. They are:

  1. Company health and safety policy

  2. Workplace hazard assessment and control

  3. Safe work practices

  4. Safe job practices

  5. Company rules

  6. Personal protective equipment

  7. Preventative maintenance

  8. Training and communication

  9. Inspections

  10. Investigations and reporting

  11. Emergency preparedness

  12. Records and statistics

  13. Legislation

  14. Joint occupational health and safety committee

COR began about 25 years ago, but COR certification is used now more than ever. That’s because it has become an important marker when pre-qualifying contractors and suppliers for projects across Canada.

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What Are the Benefits a COR Certification Gives an Organization?

Completing the process results in the following COR benefits for an organization:

  • Improved worker safety

  • Reduced costs from decreased productivity

  • Qualification for incentives (calculate your incentives) and reduced premiums/claims costs

  • Increased worker training

  • Proper investigation of damages and incidents

  • Reduced legal risk exposure

  • Demonstration of a developed, implemented, and evaluated health and safety management system

  • Recognition as a participant in and promoter of health and safety excellence

Dr. Chris McLeod, a scientist for the Institute for Work & Health, says that, “Generally, across time, across sectors, particularly in more recent years, COR-certified firms lowered their lost-time injury rates by larger percentages than similar firms that were not certified.” 

So how much was the reduction in lost-time injury rates? A significant 12-14% on average.

However, the reduction was seen mostly across the following locations and sectors:

  • British Columbia: Construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, forestry

  • Alberta: Construction, transportation, manufacturing, trade and public services

Other results show “a clear and consistent difference in injury rates” when organizations meet the maximum COR score (96-100%) versus the minimum COR score (80-95%). 


Is COR Certification in Alberta the Same as COR Certification in Canada?

Yes, COR certification is the same across all of Canada, but organizations must be registered with the applicable provincial governing body.

Energy Safety Canada also provides COR protocols that require only one audit for organizations that operate in all three of the western provinces.

How Can Your Organization Become COR-Certified?

Knowing how to become COR-certified starts with registering with the right province and using the proper program. There are different COR programs geared toward companies of varying sizes.

  • COR: For companies with 20 or more employees

  • MECOR: For companies with 10-19 employees 

  • SECOR: For companies with 10 or fewer employees


Each program has similar steps that must be taken to certify:

  1. Review and complete course and refresher course requirements. 

  2. Complete and submit a certifying partner request (for SECOR companies).

  3. Develop and implement a health and safety management system that follows protocol. You must have 12 months of supportive documentation.

  4. Perform and submit a certified audit or self-assessment with supporting documentation. Passing requires a mark of 80% or above with no less than 50% in any of the 14 COR elements. If you don’t pass, you can complete a limited-scope audit to focus on raising your scores in specific elements or undergo another complete audit at any time. 

  5. Maintain your certification annually with a maintenance audit. 

The time it takes to get from registration to certification is up to 18 months, depending on the current state of your existing health and safety management system. 

5 Types of Audits

There are 5 types of COR audits offered:

  1. External Audit: This is conducted by a certified auditor on 3-year intervals for renewing an existing COR.

  2. Internal Audit: This “maintenance audit” is conducted by a certified internal auditor in the 2nd and 3rd year of the COR cycle.

  3. SECOR Assessor Audit (Self-Assessment): This is for small businesses to submit their information and documents to a representative after completing a 2-day training course.

  4. Administrative Audit: This may be performed for re-certification purposes for organizations that do not have active worksites. 

  5. Action Plans: This is for organizations to maintain their COR while enhancing their safety program.

SECOR Protocol Self-Assessment


The SECOR self-assessment (attached Word document) is a comprehensive instrument to measure a small business’s health and safety management system. It includes:


  • A list of questions to answer with supporting documents. Questions cover:

  • Management involvement and commitment

  • Hazard identification and risk assessment

  • Hazard control

  • Training

  • Emergency response procedures

  • Incident/accident reporting and investigation

  • Communication

  • Employee breakdown and sampling

  • Worksite breakdown and sampling

  • Score sheet

  • Action plan


How Can Your Organization Maintain Its COR?

Maintaining a COR is intended to focus on specific aspects of, and fill any gaps in, an organization’s health and safety program. A maintenance audit occurs in the two years following certification and your organization must receive a 60% overall score on each maintenance audit.

Baseline Audits

A baseline audit gathers information with the purpose of determining the extent and limitations of a current health and safety program and is used for upgrading or maintenance purposes. 

Action Plans

An action plan is an effective method for maintaining COR while working to enhance a health and safety program. Action plan submission guidelines include the following steps:

  • Step 1: Building Your Objectives

  • Step 2: Developing Milestones

  • Step 3: Assigning Responsibility

  • Step 4: Setting Target Dates

  • Step 5: Determining Your Deliverables

  • Step 6: Assigning Points to Each Milestone


Does COR Give Your Organization a Competitive Advantage?

The benefits to being a COR employer go beyond the safety and wellness of your employees, as important as that is. When your organization is recognized for sustaining a high level of safety excellence, it has a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

Potential employees, partners, and clients will be more eager to work with you because they know you work hard to lower your risks which, in turn, lowers their own risks. Because of this, your organization’s image within the industry and the community will be enhanced, which can only lead to better projects and higher revenues.

To learn about how Avetta helps lower supply chain risk, visit our website, call 844-633-3801, or email [email protected].

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