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White Spot is the first BC restaurant to gain COR certification

The venerable chain becomes an industry leader in safety.

White Spot receives the COR certificates from go2HR. Representatives include Denise Buchanan, Vice President, Human Resources; Bill Senghera, Risk Manager; Warren Erhart, President and CEO You don’t operate 127 restaurants throughout BC, Alberta and Asia without doing something right, and one reason for Vancouver-based White Spot’s success – apart from its great food – is its devotion to its employees. So it’s not surprising that the 85-year-old company has become the first restaurant chain in BC to achieve the Certificate of Recognition (COR).

COR is the provincially recognized program that provides monetary incentives to employers who go beyond the legal requirements of workplace safety regulations by taking a ”best practice” approach to implementing injury prevention and return-to-work programs.

Bill Senghera, White Spot’s Business Consultant/Risk Manager, notes that “In the past mostly ski resorts and hotels would obtain the COR certification, but it’s also perfect for the restaurant industry given that employees play such a crucial role in the success or failure of a business.”

Senghera learned about COR from go2HR – the certifying partner that coordinates the program for BC’s tourism and hospitality industry – and believed it suited the White Spot culture because the company has maintained a rigorous health and safety program for years. He lost no time becoming a COR internal auditor, the skills of which he will employ to maintain White Spot’s COR certification.

The analysis and auditing process for White Spot’s certification proved to be a lot less daunting than some people thought. “There was some internal concern it would be difficult to achieve certification in a multi-location environment and although the process involved a lot of people, it turned out to be very straightforward,” says Senghera.

First, with help from go2HR, White Spot conducted an internal analysis of its entire health and safety and return-to-work initiatives in comparison to COR standards. Ultimately, only minor tweaking of certain return-to-work processes was required – everything else seemed to fulfill the COR requirements.

In May, White Spot retained an external auditor to assess the company. Over the course of a week the auditor visited the head office and eight different restaurants. Armed with an audit tool, he reviewed the safety program, conducted a walk-through of each restaurant, and interviewed up to 10 employees and managers from each establishment on a one-on-one basis. Although some individuals assumed the audit would be nerve-wrecking, the interviews turned out to be a pleasant experience. Shortly after the audit was completed, a COR certification was granted.

The most obvious benefit for COR certified companies are financial incentives of up to 15 per cent on their WorkSafeBC premiums. But there are more significant and longer-reaching benefits of being COR certified that are especially salient to restaurant operations. First is the certificate holder’s attractiveness as a safe workplace. “This is an especially important message for restaurateurs to send to potential recruits,” says Senghera. “Knowing you’ll be looked after is something entry-level workers actively seek when job-hunting.”

The sense of being looked after leads to another long-term benefit of COR: its ability to help retain employees, which Senghera points out is crucial at a time when people are more than ever inclined to move from one job to the next.

White Spot is already enjoying the COR benefits. “Our restaurants are reporting less worker injuries and a quicker return to work – the latter because of a ‘modified duties’ policy we initiated as part of our return-to-work program,” says Senghera.

Senghera is hopeful other restaurants will follow White Spot’s lead. “Honestly, I can’t think of any downside to the actual certification process, and the upside is tremendous,” he says.

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