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Brampton latest municipality to adopt COR

Angela Gismondi
Brampton latest municipality to adopt COR

The City of Brampton is firing on all cylinders when it comes to adopting COR certification.

In addition to adopting the Certificate of Recognition (COR) program as part of its construction contract management and tendering process, the city is also looking at getting COR certified itself.

As a pilot project, the city’s public works and engineering department will be partnering with the health, safety and wellness department to conduct a gap analysis in order to determine the next steps towards becoming COR certified.

"It gains credibility," stated Jayne Holmes, director of capital works for the City of Brampton.

She was one of the speakers at the COR Open House and Leadership Conference held March 3 at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation in Mississauga, Ont.

The event was hosted by the Ontario General Contractors Association in partnership with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA).

"You’re not just asking your vendors to do it, you’re going to do it yourself," she added. "We thought public works might be a good pilot for this because we perform some of the work that we’re asking our vendors to become COR certified for."

"The safety of our staff and residents is in the hands of the people we hire."

Jayne Holmes

City of Brampton

There are many benefits for the city to become certified.

"It does promote an ongoing review of the corporation’s health and safety program and it does send the message that Brampton makes the safety of its employees a priority," said Holmes.

"We’re hoping that as we go through this process, we might be one of the first municipalities to become COR certified."

COR is a comprehensive health and safety audit tool. It is an accredited certification program in Ontario, granted by the IHSA, which is also responsible for certifying contractors in Ontario’s construction industry through a structured audit process.

At its Feb. 22 meeting, Brampton city council unanimously adopted the program for its construction contracts.

It is the first in the Region of Peel and one of only four municipalities in Ontario to adopt COR, Holmes stated. It is expected to be implemented as a requirement starting in 2019.

"We do not have a formal contractor safety program and our contracts are typically awarded on low bid alone," explained Holmes.

"As we did more investigation, we realized that COR does actually verify that constructors are following the Ontario Health and Safety Act and regulations. By implementing COR we are asking our constructors to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the act."

In addition to levelling the playing field and making sure there is consistency in the health and safety programs for contractors the city hires, it also sends a message that safety is a priority, she adds.

"It sends a message to our residents, the public and vendors that safety, safe work environments are a priority for the City of Brampton," said Holmes.

"Even though we are not the constructor, we hire constructors and the safety of our staff and residents is in the hands of the people we hire."

Upholding the city’s reputation is also a factor.

"When a tragedy happens on a site, it is not usually the contractor who is named, it’s usually named as a City of Brampton project and that is very damaging to us and our reputation," Holmes noted.

While many of the contractors the city deals with are COR certified, many of those working on smaller contracts are not, she pointed out.

"We have to do a little more work on those smaller contracts that are below $5 million," said Holmes. "As we’ve been talking to staff they’re very eager to get this implemented and they want to do it sooner rather than later…but we do have to make sure that the vendor community is ready for it because we want to make sure we don’t shrink our market too much and keep our tenders competitive."

In order to effectively implement the program, the city has been getting input from other buyers of construction.

"It’s really interesting to hear their stories because buyers of construction, based on their business, are implementing this a little differently so it’s really important for us to get those lessons learned and not make those same mistakes if we can avoid them," said Holmes, adding consultation within the municipality is also important.

"As we did our consultations we talked to everybody in the City of Brampton because it affects all of us. We’re partnering with our health and safety group right now to get an implementation plan for us to get COR ourselves and this means the engagement of our senior management all the way through the ranks to make this happen."

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