Information update for COR certified employers

Published on: July 24, 2020

WorkSafeBC’s Certificate of Recognition (COR) team is working with our certifying partners (CPs) to support employers with your 2020 COR audit requirements as businesses resume operations following work stoppages related to COVID-19.

We will continue to monitor the situation and take measures to ensure we follow guidance from public health agencies as we move through Phases 2 and 3 of BC’s Restart Plan.

2020 audits

Audits that have been completed or are in progress

Completed audits will be processed as usual.

All audits that are underway must follow COVID-19 return to safe operation protocols while continuing as normally as possible. We understand that some employers are scaling up operations, or changing their current work process flows and, as such, auditors need to be flexible and creative.

When an audit is taking place, the validation methods DIO (document, interviews, observations) used by the auditor must confirm there is a functioning occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS), which satisfies the COR audit criteria, as follows:

  • D - document reviews should not be affected as directive documents and records should still be available through electronic means (i.e., secure channels, minimal handling, reviewing via photos or scanned)
  • I - interviews may be done onsite (with appropriate barriers, physical distancing, and masks as required), or done virtually with appropriate authentication of identify via visual communication methods (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Microsoft teams)
  • O - observations must be conducted onsite (with appropriate barriers, physical distancing, and masks as required)

Please note: Virtual observations have been reviewed by the program and cannot be relied upon to confirm or deny that observed tasks meet audit criteria. This means that virtual observations will not be allowed in lieu of onsite observations.

To help determine if an audit is still practicable and to see the preventive measures you can take when conducting an audit, please visit our COVID-19 information and resources.

If you have questions about your audit, please contact your CP.

Audits not yet started for employers with COR certifications that expire by August 31, 2020

If you are an employer with an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) or OHS and Return-to-Work (RTW) certification that expires by August 31, 2020 and you have not started the certification audit, you can apply for a 2020 audit waiver.

To apply:

  • Contact your CP to request a 2020 audit waiver.
  • CPs will complete the waiver on your behalf and submit it to WorkSafeBC.
  • WorkSafeBC will reply to the CP with appropriate approvals.
  • CPs will contact you to outline next steps.

Once employers are accepted into the waiver program, we will issue a one-year COR certificate(s) from the date of the original certificate expiry (i.e., an expiry date of 2020-05-03 will now expire on 2021-05-03). This means you will require certification audit(s) conducted by an external auditor (or internal auditor for small employers) on or before the new expiry date in 2021.

To apply, please contact your CP.

Audits for employers with COR certifications that expire between September 1 and December 31, 2020

We’re sensitive to the concern that employers may not be in ‘normal operating mode’ (NOM), or may not be operating in the latter half of the year. The province has moved into Phase 3 reopening, and we intend to move forward with the program, as normal, for those certificates expiring after September 1, 2020.

As it is with audits that are currently in progress, the validation methods DIO (document, interviews, observations) used by the auditor must confirm there is a functioning occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS), which satisfies the COR audit criteria, as follows:

  • D - document reviews should not be affected as directive documents and records should still be available through electronic means (i.e., secure channels, minimal handling, reviewing via photos or scanned)
  • I - interviews may be done onsite (with appropriate barriers, physical distancing, and masks as required), or done virtually with appropriate authentication of identify via visual communication methods (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Microsoft teams)
  • O - observations must be conducted onsite (with appropriate barriers, physical distancing, and masks as required)

Please note: Virtual observations have been reviewed by the program and cannot be relied upon to confirm or deny that observed tasks meet audit criteria. This means that virtual observations will not be allowed in lieu of onsite observations.

To help determine if an audit is still practicable and to see preventive measures you can take when conducting an audit, please visit our COVID-19 information and resources.

If you have questions about your audit, please contact your CP.

Audits that are due for maintenance in 2020 (M1 and M2)

We recognize that employers may not be in ‘normal operating mode’. Maintenance audits can be performed at any time of the year, as long as they are completed before December 31. Therefore, you have until the end of the year to complete your maintenance audit.

Audits are recommended, with appropriate COVID-19 protocols, as you start up your operations or during your continued ramp-up. This is an opportunity to confirm your OHSMS is adapting to the changes through the audit and action plan process.

If you have questions about your audit, please contact your CP.

New certifications

All new 2020 COR employer certifications need to follow the standard processes and auditing requirements. If this is not possible, you are requested to defer pursuing COR certification until the usual auditing requirements can be satisfied.

Certificate printing and distribution

Certificates are not being printed or distributed at this time. You can check your certification details in our COR Employer Search and use this information to fulfill any requirement to provide proof of COR qualification when bidding for work.

2020 financial incentives

An employer with a valid COR is eligible to receive a financial incentive for each year you hold a COR and where none of the eligibility exceptions to COR financial incentive apply. Employers who are approved by WorkSafeBC and have one-year certifications under the waiver program will be considered to have valid certificates for 2020. You will be considered for a 2020 financial incentive in May of 2021.

Next steps

As a reminder, employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan (this can also be completed on any mobile device using the COVID-19 Safety Plan app) that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures you have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplaces.

Employers are not required to submit plans to WorkSafeBC for approval, but in accordance with the order of the provincial health officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite. During a WorkSafeBC inspection, officers will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers or to see the plan if it has been developed. To learn more, read Inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With that information in mind, we have suggested that CPs and auditors confirm that employers’ COVID-19 Safety Plans are available and posted as part of the hazard identification and control portion of the audit (and in other applicable sections, such as but not limited to, JHSC, worker representatives, policies and procedures, safe work procedures and written instructions, communication and training, PPE, and action plans).

Workers may also be affected by anxiety and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health and to take measures that support mental well-being.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and adjust our processes to ensure we follow guidance from public health agencies. If you have questions, please contact your CP.

To contact the WorkSafeBC Partners Program, please email us.