One of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s (GTAA) rules of the runway is “results first, safety always.”
According to Garry Price, manager of capital restoration projects, construction is no exception, which is why all contractors will be required to be Certificate of Recognition (COR) certified by January 2017.
"As part of the GTAA's construction process, contractors, in the past, have submitted their health and safety programs and site specific safety plans and they were inconsistent," Price explains.
"Everyone had their own format, so we believed the best approach would be to go with one standard that applies to everybody equally. By going to COR it's a set guideline and outline of what they have to follow and achieve."
The GTAA oversees operations at Toronto Pearson International Airport. In order to meet the demands of increasing passenger and cargo growth, the GTAA is continuing with its program of expansion and renovation. Contractors bidding on jobs at the GTAA will have had to applied for, or have, COR certification, explains a release.
"It provides employers with an effective tool to assess their health and safety management system," Price adds. "The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) is the 'authority having Jurisdiction' to grant COR in the province of Ontario. In achieving this national safety program accreditation in Ontario, IHSA is responsible to ensure that the COR standards are upheld. There's a lot of other ones (programs) out there, which have varying levels of intensity. By going with IHSA, it was something we trust."
In the interim, Price states the GTAA has its own established levels, standards and methods of ensuring health and safety is at the forefront. Contractors are required to complete the authority's Application for Safety Pre-Qualification, which is administered during the tendering process for construction contracts. Through this process, explains the GTAA, contractors are expected to "provide documentation of an acceptable construction safety record along with their corporate commitment that ensures safe working environment and maintenance of work sites and practices."
After successfully completing the Application for Safety Pre-Qualification, construction work won't start until the contractor has completed their site-specific safety program, which is based on the unique hazards and risks associated with their airport project. This material must be submitted to the GTAA for review.
"In 2014, when we were talking about all our contractors being COR certified we realized COR was in its infancy in Ontario and this is a very long process. It can take a year or longer to achieve COR certification," Price states.
"So, in the interim, we've said, OK well if the contractors are going to have to go through COR, why don't we start them off and we'll have our own health and safety pre-qualification. It's basically 'COR light.' It seemed to go hand in hand to at least familiarize our contractors with here's what we're looking for and preparing them for 2017 when they will all have to be COR certified."
Currently, he adds, there are 35 contractors who have applied and actually qualified for the GTAA health and safety pre-qualification; three of the contractors who have prequalified are already COR certified.
The GTAA's 2015 spending is $245 million, and the authority will spend more than $200 million annually over the next three to five years.
Price says requiring COR was a natural fit for the GTAA and contractors should jump on board.
"It's a very challenging thing to achieve, but I would recommend that they all apply for COR. It benchmarks their health and safety program and demonstrates that the contractor has an effective health and safety management system in place," he says. "It's something that we as the GTAA recognize. If they are COR certified, we know that they meet the standards that we're looking for in construction health and safety."
COR certification is valid for three years from the date of certification, so long as the employer performs and completes internal maintenance audits in the second and third years and complies with the terms and conditions of the COR program.