Regional district fails April COR audit

Regional District Okanagan Similkameen fails to recertify for COR status after 2013 audit of safety program

The regional district will be paying more in Workers Compensation premiums this year after failing to achieve Certificate of Recognition (COR) status.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen has participated in the COR program (a provincial program that rewards employers who develop and implement safety management systems based on industry standards) since 2010. The RDOS achieved COR status for its workplace safety program and its return to work program in 2010 and successfully completed internal audits in each of the subsequent two years.

This year, the regional district failed to achieve COR status following an April audit.

Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell told the board at the August 15 board meeting that program guidelines that outlined how corporations are recognized were changed, resulting in a lower audit.

“Peripheral organizations are now reviewed separately,” Newell told the board, noting that fire departments and recreation committees had previously been audited as part of the core organization. The new guidelines required them to be audited as stand alone departments, which resulted in deficiencies having a bigger effect on the overall score. The regional district achieved a score of 55 per cent on the April audit, against an overall passing requirement of 80 per cent. (In 2010, the regional district scored 81 per cent.)

One particular criticism in an executive summary of the audit report, released on August 21, noted that “Few recommendations  from the 2010 audit were implemented, particularly where peripheral operations are involved. Many recommendations made in 2010 were made again in this audit.”

Another recommendation called for the RDOS to “consider providing a dedicated safety resource person to the fire departments to be responsible for developing standards, operating procedures and overall safety management.”

The released copy was also edited to remove references to the specific peripheral departments selected for audit.

Newell advised the board that the Health and Safety Committee was working on the peripheral departments.

“We have work to do with volunteer fire and recreation departments,” he said.

COR certification was worth $15,000 to the regional district in WCB premium rebates.

The COR program requires an external audit every fourth year. In 2016, to recertify, the regional district would require the services of a contracted consultant to administer the audit, the cost of which could be as much as $10,000.