Safety Bulletin
Inspecting Electrical Panels

This is not the regular Newsletter but a News Flash to bring you up to date with recent news from OntarioACHI

Discussions are underway with the Ministry of Government & Consumer Services (MGCS), the Ministry of Labour (MoL) and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) after one of our members was threatened of being reported to the ESA for opening an electrical panel to inspect it.

We wrote to the regulators identifying that, as we understood it, the ESA position is that only a homeowner or a Licensed Electrical Contractor is legally allowed to do electrical work in a  home. 

We pointed out that the ESA also recognises that "Work" is altering the existing electrical wiring in a home.

We suggested that if one was not "Altering" the existing electrical system, then it should not be considered as providing electrical "work", and therefore opening and closing the panel should be allowed.

The response from the government to date has been to confirm our understanding that Under the Licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians regulation, only certain individuals, such as a homeowner or a licensed electrical contractor are legally allowed to do electrical work in a home that falls within the scope of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

 The regulators went on to say "Interacting with electrical equipment (e.g, removing a panel cover) could create a safety hazard.  If electrical hazards are left at a home, this would be a concern for the ESA."

We have responded by suggesting that the initial tenet of this response was concerning, as it seems opposed to the position that regulation of the home Inspection profession was being done to protect consumers, yet these comments leave consumers at risk.

We informed the government that frequently Home Inspectors that do open these panels and find things including:

• dangerously tapped breakers and neutral buses;

• burnt connections;

• undersized wiring for the breakers/fuses;

• incorrectly wired GFCI and AFCIs;

• incorrect marrets (twist-on wire connectors) for pig-tails;

• white conductors used for "hot wires" without the requisite red/black tape or marking.

We went on to say that failure to remove the consumer distribution panel front, by a suitably trained and protected Home Inspector, to visually inspect (and photograph) the condition of the interior of the panel, creates far more of a risk to consumers.

In light of the possible feedback from the government on this topic, we have issued a Safety Bulletin which can be found below.

We will keep you informed of the progress, and have asked the MGCS, MoL and ESA with a recommendation as to whether inspectors are to cease opening electrical panels, and leaving their clients with no option but to call in a Licensed Electrician, at extra cost, to open the panels or to continue providing a service to the consumer for their protection, but at the risk inspectors who choose to do so contravening the regulations.

We find this stance particularly strange given that the ESA has said home owners, who have not been educated in any way of the risks on opening the panel, are fully entitled to do so.

When you consider this, and the ability for home owners to change wiring and fuses up to 15amps without training or guidance, in themselves increases the chance of a defect existing inside a closed electrical panel.

Safety Bulletin

Inspecting the electrical service panel

WARNING:
This safety bulletin is subject specific and will not teach you how to work on electrical equipment in general.
It will not teach you how to become an electrician.

Read more.

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