Toronto City altering its language for worker’s safety with ISO 45001:2018 Certification


The City of Toronto is making changes to attain clarity concerning acceptable safety accreditations for companies interested in bidding on city projects. According to a statement the city sent to Canadian Occupational Safety, an organisation must revise the contract language.

As the statement states, “While the City’s acceptance of approved equivalents to the COR program is already outlined on our website and in our tender document, we are currently working to update our Request for Tender document to provide better clarity on this requirement – including specifying that ISO and other equivalents are acceptable alternatives. We plan to finalise this update in the first quarter of 2024.”

The municipality’s recognition of the ISO 45001 accreditation has been a matter of considerable uncertainty until recently. The Certificate of Recognition (CORTM) programme is the only accreditation expressly mentioned name in city documents, such as its website and Request for Tender.

There was uncertainty regarding the municipality’s recognition of the ISO 45001 accreditation. Since the city first adopted and implemented the Certificate of Recognition (CORTM) programme in 2016, it is the only accreditation that mentions the name in city documents, including its website and Request for Tender document.

Although the city confirmed to Canadian Occupational Safety last month that it does accept COR equivalents, like the ISO 45001, many businesses were unaware of this because it was unclear what constituted an equivalent and its acceptance. There should be no confusion now that the city has made these changes.

The CEO of Cobalt Safety Consulting, Kevin Brown, spearheaded the push for clarification. After conducting an online survey with nearly 100 CEOs and executives, he found that about 80% felt the city’s procurement process was anti-competitive, thought ISO 45001 was not accepted, and were unaware that the city accepted equivalents to COR.

“I commend the City of Toronto for its decision to clearly and publicly change this language for contract procurement for construction,” says Brown, “and I’m pleased our advocacy has improved safety and resulted in these positive changes.”

One reason for the confusion is the widespread use of COR, which was created and is the gold safety standard in Canada and throughout the nation. ISO 45001 is an industry standard for safety procedures developed by 168 nations in collaboration to create safe and secure manufacturing, technology, construction, and management.

Brown believes ISO 45001 accreditation will improve the overall OHSMS performance of an organisation. He added, “I think the city of Toronto is showing some leadership on this, and other municipalities that have this kind of language in their contracts may also benefit from the leadership the City of Toronto is showing everybody.”

The modifications will be visible to businesses bidding on City of Toronto projects in the upcoming months. However, organisations must not deter from bidding because it is abundantly evident that COR equivalents, such as ISO 45001, will be accepted.

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