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Certificate of recognition (COR)

Partnerships Standards

To qualify for a Certificate of Recognition (COR) from the Alberta Government, an employer’s Health & Safety Management System must first undergo an external audit.  This audit must be reviewed by the AHSA (the industry’s Certifying Partner) and meet the CP’s quality assurance standards before it can be approved.  Audits must achieve a minimum score of 80% overall, with a minimum of 50% on each audit element in order for the employer to be eligible for a COR. 

A COR is typically valid for three years, provided that annual maintenance audit requirements are met.  To maintain an employer’s COR certification and eligibility for Partnerships in Injury Reduction (PIR) refunds, COR maintenance must be conducted annually.

Maintenance audits must be conducted by a certified auditor approved by the CP or an auditor candidate seeking auditor certification.  

COR Participation

To participate in the COR program the employer must have at least one worker trained in the AHSA’s Health & Safety Program Building course.  

To achieve/renew a COR, the property must have their program audited by an external certified auditor. The external auditor can be conducted in two different ways: using the Peer Auditor system or by hiring an AHSA-certified Consultant Auditor.

Once a COR has been achieved, it is typically valid for three years.  COR maintenance must be conducted annually to maintain COR certification and be eligible for the PIR refunds. 

An internal audit (or maintenance option) may be completed by the certified peer auditor(s) on staff.  If there are no certified peer auditors on staff, the property must either train additional staff members, or contract the services of an AHSA-certified consultant auditor. 

COR status must be renewed at least every three years by conducting an external audit. 

The COR audit program is a voluntary program.  There are no penalties if a property does not meet the minimum standard or chooses not to participate in the program, though COR status is required for employers to remain eligible for PIR refunds from the WCB.

Peer Auditor Guidelines:

The AHSA offers employers the option of using a Peer Audit process to conduct their certification/recertification audits for COR.  To participate, employers must have one or more employees trained and certified as Peer Auditors, enabling them to audit the health & safety programs of other properties.  The primary benefits of this program are the shared resources amongst the properties, and the increased skill sets of the employees within the industry.

To participate in the Peer Audit process the property being audited must:

  • Provide the services of their staff certified as Peer Auditor(s) in exchange for an audit by an equal number of Peer Auditors from another employer.  Contact the AHSA to confirm the number of trained Peer Auditors required for your property.
  • Provide complimentary meals and accommodation (if required) for the Peer Auditor(s) conducting their external audit.
    • Meals may include lunch if in same town, or breakfast, lunch and dinner if from out of town
    • Accommodations are provided for out-of-town auditor(s)
  • Reimburse any parking charges incurred
  • Provide a contact person for the external Peer Auditors to help coordinate the on-site audit activities and be available to answer questions while the auditors are on site
  • Provide work area(s) for auditor(s) to review documentation and conduct interviews

Because of the complexity involved in scheduling peer audits, newly participating properties must have a certified Peer Auditor established by February 28 of the calendar year to participate in the Peer Audit process.  For properties unable to use the Peer Audit system, COR certification/recertification audits may also be performed by contracting the services of a consultant auditor.

Properties who provide Peer Auditor(s) to another property must:

  • Continue to pay the Peer Auditor(s) wages/salary while conducting the off-site audit activities (including report writing time)
  • Reimburse their Peer Auditor(s) for any incurred expenses (e.g. mileage, meals etc.)
  • If the property being audited is subject to a Limited Scope audit, the Peer Auditors are required to return to the property to complete the Limited Scope data gathering and complete the audit process.

Properties that do not have a Peer Auditor available to participate in this process can still participate in the COR audit process.  They will be required to enter an agreement with a Consultant Auditor. 

Consultant Auditor Guidelines:

The AHSA maintains a list of AHSA-certified consultant auditors available to audit health & safety programs using the AHSA audit tool.  Employers must contact the auditors directly, to arrange for their services. Costs for a consultant audit are typically based on the length of time required to complete the audit, plus expenses (travel, accommodation, meals, etc.). 

To participate the property being audited must:

  • Have one worker who has successfully completed the Health & Safety Program Building Course (HSPB).

Responsibilities a property has to a consultant auditor are as follows:

  • Provide a contact person for the audit – to coordinate the on-site audit activities and be  available while the auditors are on site
  • Provide a work area(s) for auditor(s) to review documentation and conduct interviews
  • Maintain ongoing communication with the auditor to ensure the terms of your contract are being followed, and audit timelines are being met.  Should an auditor fail to deliver a quality report to the AHSA within the timelines allowed, the employer’s COR will be in jeopardy.

Combined Peer and Consultant Auditor Guidelines:

The AHSA recognizes that sending staff members off site to conduct an audit may not be feasible due to daily operations or availability of auditors. Consultant auditors are an option for a property on their external audit years, while utilizing the property’s peer auditors during their internal audit years. Arrangements for Consultant Auditors are made by visiting the AHSA website (www.ahsa.ca), contacting, and entering intoan agreement with the AHSA approved auditors directly. Costs for a consultant audit are based on the length of time required and typically, plus expenses (travel, accommodation, meals, etc.). 

If the property chooses to hire a consultant auditor they must:

  • Notify the AHSA of their decision as soon as possible
  • Have one worker who has successfully completed the Health & Safety Program Building Course (HSPB).

Responsibilities a property has to a consultant auditor are as follows:

  • Provide a contact person for the audit – to be available the whole time the auditors are on site
  • Provide a work area(s) for auditor(s) to review documentation and conduct interviews

What to expect with an Audit

For the hotel industry, a typical audit will take 2-5 days of on-site data gathering.  An audit begins with a pre-audit meeting followed with the auditor(s) gathering their information in 3 different ways. Once the data gathering is completed, the auditor(s) will hold a post-audit meeting.  Data gathering follows this sequence:

  1. Documentation review:  Involves reviewing all written components of the health & safety program.  
  2. Interviews:  The interviews conducted must meet a representative sampling as determined by Partnerships.  
  3. Observations:  Observing the work environment (includes: front and back of house, outside areas and staff accommodation [if under same WCB account number]), how staff are conducting their day-to-day activities, and observe the status of deficiencies noted.

After the data-gathering has been completed, the auditor must then compile the information, justify the scores awarded with written notes and prepare a written report.  The time required, is on average, one additional day from the data-gathering, though time for subsequent redrafting is to be expected.

Auditors have very specific timelines that must be met in order to meet AHSA/Partnership standards.  They are:

  • The audit must be completed, and the documents are to be received by the AHSA no later than 3pm November 30th of each year.
  • The audit must be submitted to the AHSA within 15 days of the on-site data gathering, for a Quality Assurance (QA) review.  Health & Safety Audits are submitted to the AHSA for a QA review, as required by Partnerships.  This is to ensure the audit has met all standards within the program.  
    • All audits are subject to a $150.00 QA review fee, which is invoiced to the property being audited. 
    • The $150.00 q.a. review fee will NOT be charged to auditor candidates completing the Peer Auditor Training and auditor certification process.
  • Once the QA has been completed, and documents returned to the auditor, the auditor has 14 days to make the required revisions and submit the documents back to the AHSA to ensure the audit package is complete.

These strict timelines are in place to not only ensure the Partnerships’ standards are being met, but to also ensure the audit data has been reviewed and returned to the audited property in a timely manner that will allow for implementation of an effective action plan.

Failure to meet these timelines will put a property’s COR at risk of being cancelled.

This information has been provided as an annual update to the Partnerships’ COR audit program.  If your property no longer wishes to participate in the COR audit process, or if there are changes towards contact information, please contact the AHSA to advise.