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Saskatchewan puts strong emphasis on construction safety certification

May
3

Reprinted from the Regina Leader-Post
3 May 2018
by Jonathan Hamelin

As of April 1, 2019, a Certificate of Recognition (COR®) or Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR®) certification – or equivalent acknowledged by the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA) – will be a requirement in all construction contracts exceeding $1 million in value.

Starting next year, safety will become an even bigger priority on major construction sites in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Central Services has announced that as of April 1, 2019, a policy will be in place that will see Certificate of Recognition (COR®) or Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR®) certification – or equivalent acknowledged by the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA) – as a requirement in all construction contracts expected to exceed $1 million in value.

As SCSA president Collin Pullar explains, the SCSA has been assisting the Ministry of Central Services with this policy development for some time and supported their consultations with other representatives in the industry. He said the policy change is a breath of fresh air.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the adoption of COR® as a principle measurement in procurement,” Pullar said. “Construction companies in Saskatchewan who have already made an investment in safety feel that it will give them an opportunity to get a return on their investment and provide a level playing field.

“For the construction buyers, this policy change will give them more confidence about the companies they are hiring for projects. These buyers are likely aware that companies that are careful and methodical with their safety management are careful and methodical about other aspects of business: marketing, financial management, HR, ethics, risk management. They feel their overall risk is coming down.”

COR® is an occupational health and safety program designation verifying that a company has a fully-implemented health and safety program that meets national standards. It’s endorsed by the SCSA and participating members of the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations.

SECOR® is a program with similar values geared toward companies with nine or less employees (including sub-contractors) and is often a stepping-stone for smaller companies to achieving COR® certification. There are almost 1,000 companies in Saskatchewan who have achieved nationally accredited safety certification through the SCSA.

Pullar said COR® certification brings many benefits to the companies in addition to meeting the requirements under the upcoming policy.

“COR® certification helps to identify weaknesses that can lead to really costly injuries,” Pullar said. “When somebody gets hurt on the job, it’s common that a piece of equipment or material will also be damaged along the way. This adds to the overall cost and risk to a company.

“COR® is a great indicator to whether a company has the tools in place and has the practices in place to reduce the risk of incidents happening. Incidents lead to delays and sometimes very dissatisfied customers because of it.”

Once applying to COR®, companies have to complete four mandatory safety courses. With the knowledge gained from these lessons, companies will then need to develop and implement a quality safety program. For this process, the SCSA makes safety advisors available to provide guidance and support.

Pullar said that COR® helps companies create effective safety plans that cover a wide range of scenarios.

“By creating a plan, companies will be mapping out how they promote a safe work environment, assess and control hazards, investigate incidents, comply with regulations and train employees,” Pullar said. “A lot of times, there are things completely outside of a company’s control such as weather that suddenly pops up, but businesses can still have a plan to deal with inclement weather or sudden storms.

“Safety programs look different depending on the type of company and how they run their business; an interior design and construction company is going to have different hazards it will be dealing with than one that’s building an office tower.”

Once developing a plan, a company must undergo and pass an external health and safety audit before becoming a COR® certified company. To maintain certification, companies must submit a satisfactory internal or external audit annually.

For more information on COR® and safety certification, visit www.scsaonline.ca.