COR Should be at the Core

By Mark Cooper, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Construction Association

Mark Cooper, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Construction Association

Construction projects are often the most expensive and complex undertakings that an individual, a family, or a business undertake. The projects can be years in the planning, can take many months to complete, and typically involve a seemingly endless number of tasks and considerations. Why is it then, when we’re dealing with such significant expense and complexity, that we don’t often take more time to pick the right partner for the job?

At the Saskatchewan Construction Association, we are often asked to help buyers out after they’ve gotten themselves stuck with a bad contractor. Of course, not surprisingly, the best thing they can do is avoid working with bad contractors in the first place.

Every one of us knows some company or some person who has a construction horror story. They’re all too common an experience. Unfortunately, when it comes to the construction sector there isn’t always an easy way to distinguish between the reputable companies and the fly-by-night operators that are rarely capable of delivering what they say they will. As a result, buyers of construction services really need to be savvy. If you’re not looking out for your own interests and engaging with reputable companies, you’re at risk.

Fortunately, there are certain things that a potential buyer of construction services can do to protect themselves from risk and liability. I’ve written about some of these things in the past and am always happy to have discussions with anyone about how they can better protect themselves. Today however, I want to focus on one particular element that is important – you might even call it core…or better yet COR.

The Certificate of Recognition (COR) is an occupational health and safety program designation verifying that a construction company has a fully implemented health and safety management system that meets national standards. In Saskatchewan, the COR program is overseen by our sister association the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association (SCSA). I highly recommend that any buyer of construction services start by confirming that their contractor is COR certified. If they’re not, you’re taking on more risk and liability than you want.

Data-driven analysis, led by our friends at the SCSA, is now showing that COR certified companies also perform better in most business metrics.

COR provides you, the buyer, with confidence that the company you’re doing business with takes safety seriously.

This should matter to you for a number of reasons:

  • Gaining and maintaining the certification requires that the contractor pass an external health and safety audit – meaning they can’t just say they take health and safety seriously; they have to prove it too.
  • A COR certified company’s WCB premiums (money they pay to protect their workers if injured) will be current. Did you know that as the buyer of services, if a contractor you do business with isn’t current on WCB and one of their workers is injured on your site, you would be liable? Imagine paying that bill, on top of the costs of construction. No thanks;
  • Companies that choose to invest in safety and take it seriously are better able to hire and retain top talent. So, hiring a COR company helps you ensure that only the best tradespeople are working on your job;
  • Data-driven analysis, led by our friends at the SCSA, is now showing that COR certified companies also perform better in most business metrics. They’re not just good at safety, they’re better companies with better business practices than those who don’t have the certification; and
  • COR certification doesn’t happen over night. It takes a financial and time commitment that disreputable companies won’t invest in. They’re too cheap and shady. When you work with a COR certified company you know you’re dealing with someone that has a successful business, has a reputation they’ve built and want to protect, and has a plan for the future. That’s the type of company you want to work with.

While there are many things a buyer of construction services should consider before hiring a contractor, a good place to start is to ask them if they’re COR certified. If they are, keep talking. If they’re not, move on. Make COR part of your core decision making, and you’ll be off to a great start.

If you’d like to discuss this idea or any other ideas for selecting a reputable contractor, reach out to me or my team at the Saskatchewan Construction Association any time. We’re happy to work together with you. You can reach us at sca@scaonline.ca.