While other cleaners were pulling back during the pandemic, Krazee Klean of Fort Kent, AB, doubled down on its operation and staff safety. Over the last year, the company has gone through the process of becoming Certificate of Recognition (COR) certified.
COR is an occupational health and safety accreditation program that verifies a fully implemented safety and health program that meets national standards. It is the ultimate accreditation to verify companies that have a comprehensive health and safety program.
The majority of COR-certified companies are construction or trades. Krazee Klean is an industrial dry cleaning and commercial laundry operation, and the designation is unique in Alberta, as far as owner Wanda Ackert knows.
“COR certification is not so much about the customer, but about the business and the employees, ensuring that their health and safety is first priority. With that being said, when the rules are followed correctly, the customer is satisfied with the end product. This includes the fleet when going onsite to provide pick-up and delivery services,” she said.
Not an easy process
The certification required 8 months of hard work. One staff member first had to complete 5 courses over a 2-week period in order to become the company’s Health and Safety Supervisor and Auditor. Then the audits began.
“You must go through 2 audits,” said Ackert. The first audit is internal. The second audit is external and is graded by the Alberta Construction Safety Association. We averaged 90% between the two audits. We are internally audited every year and in the third year we’ll again have an external audit.”
Not an easy sell
Times were hard, staff didn’t necessarily want to take on something new, and the COR designation brought a boatload of change with it.
“At first my team was resistant, due to a lot of changes regarding paperwork, our vehicles, safety awareness, hazard assessments, etc. All machinery (dry cleaners, dryers, washers, sewing machines and presses) have maintenance documents, which are tracked monthly, to ensure all equipment is running optimally.
“Now my team is totally onboard. And they feel more secure in their job duties. It took a lot of adaptation of the standard COR certification for it to apply to a dry cleaning business,” Ackert said.
Why do it at all?
Most dry cleaners are unaware of this certification, since it normally applies to construction companies. So why mess with it at all?
“I would recommend that dry cleaners consider getting certified,” Ackert encouraged. “As a result of COR, I know that my health and safety standards now are at 100%, which protects my business and my staff. You must have dedicated staff to follow you in this venture,” she added.
“The pandemic has not affected us too much. I have had to lay off 4 staff members due to the drop in oil prices. (Krazee Klean’s core business is cleaning oil field gear.) And I have been unable to bring them back. Currently, we have 8 full-time and 1 part-time staff members.
“My revenues are running around 70%–80% of normal. There have been several times when my staff have not been able to get their full hours – but they stuck by me and hung in there. As with many businesses, we are surviving on payroll subsidies and grants,” said Ackert.
Perhaps the COR certification is not for you, but there may well be other areas where you can shore up your operations, get further training for staff and otherwise improve your business during this slow time – or any slow time. Once this one is over, it’s not all blue skies and rainbows. Another could happen in the future. Planning to put downtime to good use is just good business.