Putting Safety First
Safety Certification Helps Physical Plant Staff Work Safe
Spring is a busy time at Physical Plant. Streets need to be swept, flowers need to be planted, and residences need to be cleaned and prepared for the next group of students. It’s also a busy time for Physical Plant’s Health and Safety program, as spring means time for their annual COR (Certificate of Recognition) audit. Based in the construction industry, COR is an accreditation that measures an employer’s safety program against a national standard. Certification is achieved by completing a safety program audit consisting of 14 elements such as Hazard Assessment and Control, Emergency Preparedness, and Worker Training. In order to pass the audit, an employer needs a score of 50% in each element, and 80% overall. Employers maintain COR status by completing a self-audit annually, and every three years the audit is verified independently by a representative of the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba. Physical Plant’s Health and Safety program has maintained COR certification since 2009.
Since Physical Plant has approximately 400 staff, the annual audit is a significant undertaking. The process involves reviewing safety program documentation, performing numerous worksite observations, and interviewing workers and supervisors. The information is collected using the COR audit document; the same checklist is used Canada wide to ensure consistency in grading. Finally, a score is assigned. Any deficiencies identified by the audit must be addressed in a corrective action plan for the upcoming year.
COR has been beneficial to Physical Plant staff in numerous ways. The annual audit process is a way for many workers and supervisors to get involved in the safety program. Working on corrective actions and striving to improve the audit score for next year helps the program to continuously improve and set new goals. Since the audit requirements are based on Workplace Safety and Health regulations, a COR based health and safety program helps to meet compliance. Contractors working on campus are all required to be COR certified as well; verification that the company has a comprehensive safety program in place is a way to help ensure that construction and maintenance work does not create hazards for University staff, students or visitors. The COR program is endorsed by Manitoba Labour, the provincial government’s Workplace Safety and Health Division, the Worker’s Compensation Board of Manitoba, and Safe Work Manitoba.
Physical Plant’s COR audit score for 2018 was 93%.