Standards through Consensus for Electrical Products in Canada

In Canada, CSA is one of four nationally accredited Standard Development Organizations (SDO) and publishes Canada’s electrical code and electrical product standards.

The Canadian Electrical Code (CE Code) is the governing electrical code for the majority of Canada, and consists of two parts. The CE Code, Part I establishes requirements for electrical work and the installation of electrical equipment operating or intending to operate at all voltages in electrical installations for buildings, structures and premises across Canada. The 2002 CE Code, Part I is the 19th edition of the code, and was first published in 1927.

Requirements for electrical equipment are included in a list of more than 500 individual product standards, collectively referred to as the CSA CE Code, Part II. CSA Part II electrical equipment standards include product specifications, test methods, design requirements, classifications, recommended practices and other requirements to which electrical products are certified in order to bear the appropriate certification mark in Canada.

Standards are living documents, continually revised and refreshed to address changing requirements and emerging technologies. Standards are reviewed at least every five years as part of this process of continual improvement.

Accreditation of a Standards Development Organization (SDO) is the formal recognition of their competence to develop standards, and comply with specific accreditation criteria as determined by the accreditor.

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC), a division of Industry Canada, a Federal Crown Corporation, has responsibility for co-ordination of the National Standards System (NSS) in Canada. To achieve and maintain accreditation, a SDO must adhere to the principles governing the consensus process used in Canada for the development of consensus standards. This includes, but is not limited to, undergoing a public review process and not being framed in such a way that it will act as a restraint to trade. Further, standards should be consistent with or incorporate appropriate international standards as well as pertinent national standards.

Anyone can come forward and request a standard. Often it is a consumer organization, trade/industry association or a government department, which has observed a need. The SDO then evaluates the usefulness of a potential standard in meeting the need and assesses the level of support in the community and industry.

In the standards development process, the SDO functions as a neutral third party, providing a structure and a forum for developing the standard. Standards are developed using committees created using a “”balanced matrix”” approach. This means that each committee is structured to capitalize on the combined strengths and expertise of its members— with no single interest group dominating. In CSA’s development process, under which the CE Code, Parts I and II are developed, committees are divided into distinct interest groups including producers, regulatory authorities, end users and general interest.

The standards development process requires the technical committee to consider the views of all participants and develop the details of the standard by a consensus process, which includes the principles of inclusive participation, and respect for diverse interest and transparency. Substantial agreement among committee members, rather than a simple majority of votes, is necessary. When a draft standard has been agreed upon, it is submitted for public review, and amended if necessary.

The CE Code, Parts I and II, as well as all other standards facilitated by CSA, are developed by sub-committees and technical committees, consisting of recognized experts, who volunteer their time, resources and efforts to the standards development process.

Input on changes and maintenance of the CE Code Part I come from forty-two subcommittees each representing a section of the CE Code Part I. Using a similar process, over five hundred CE Code Part II product standards have been developed and maintained over the last 70 years. The present committee hierarchy includes five CSA technical committees, supported by 224 CSA technical subcommittees with over 1,200 voluntary members.

In accordance with the National Standards System, a consensus development process is followed to create and maintain CSA Part II electrical equipment standards. This process is used in the development of new standards, amendments to standards or new editions. Because of the immense size and scope of the CE Code Part II, each standard is identified as a project, with a schedule established and monitored by a CSA-assigned project manager. Time to completion is dependent on member commitment to the task, available resources, and the need to move the project through defined stages of development. The flow, followed for each project, is shown in the following diagram.

The complete process is described in eight stages.

Preliminary Stage

To begin, a request for the development of a new standard, new edition or amendment, may come from any interested person, organization or committee. At the preliminary stage, an evaluation is conducted and the project submitted for authorization. The evaluation determines if the product and process selected, for example, an amendment versus a new edition, will be an appropriate solution to the problem. In addition, the result must have value for the stakeholders, and the result must be achievable. After a defined evaluation process, a decision is reached on whether the project can proceed.

Proposal Stage

Organizations, industries, regulatory authorities, etc., that have been identified as having an interest in the project are requested to participate. To complement this, a public notice of intent is made to improve input early in the process. This provides unidentified stakeholders the opportunity to request to participate, to offer comments, or keep abreast of the progress of a project.

Assignment of the project to an appropriate CSA Technical Committee (TC) is made at this stage. For the CSA electrical program, the six established CSA TCs are Wiring Products, Industrial Products, Consumer and Commercial Products, General Requirements, International Standards, and Fuel Cell Technologies. Each TC receives strategic leadership from the Strategic Resource Group (SRG), a steering committee for electrical standards development, and policy direction from the Standards Policy Board (SPB). The SPB, SRG and TC(s) committees are balanced, with voting members maintained within a minimum and maximum range, in defined categories, for example, regulatory, manufacturer and general interests. Each TC may assign detailed technical work to a Technical Subcommittee (TSC), while maintaining responsibility for formal approval of a standards technical content.

Preparatory Stage

In the preparatory stage, the items considered are harmonization, copyright, resources to develop a working draft, and the project schedule.

Harmonization:A recommendation on harmonization may occur at an earlier stage. This issue is now given full consideration. First preference is to harmonize with an international standard. For products in the electrical field, an IEC standard may be adopted. Minor technical deviations from the original IEC standard are allowed to satisfy Canadian needs. These may include unique conditions such as environment, government regulation, the electrical installation code, or industry practice.

Second preference, when not feasible or appropriate to harmonize with an international standard, is the development of a regional standard. This is a joint standard, typically tri-national or bi-national, formally approved and published by CSA and the SDO of one or more other countries. The CANENA (a Spanish acronym for Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations of Americas) forum has been established in North America to facilitate the harmonization of standards and promote the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers for electrotechnical products between Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America. Currently, there are over 40 CANENA Technical Harmonization Committees. Their role is to help facilitate the development of harmonized seed documents for consideration by each country and its participating SDO. In August 2000, the first tri-national harmonized series of standards in the electrical sector, CSA C22.2 No. 248.1 – 248.16 (Low-Voltage Fuses) was published by the participating SDOs and is recognized in all three countries. Currently, CSA has published 25 bi- and tri-national electrical standards where the harmonized seed document was developed within the CANENA forum.

Third and least used for electrical products, a national standard unique to Canada would be established, where no standard exists elsewhere.

Copyright:At stage 2, copyright issues are addressed. The Standards Council of Canada has been granted copyright control within Canada for standards of the IEC. In turn, the Standards Council of Canada can permit these rights to be used by CSA for developing National Standards of Canada. A National Standard of Canada (NSC) is a consensus standard prepared by an accredited standards-development organization and where the development process has been approved by the Standards Council of Canada.

For regional standards, an existing standard from another standards-development organization may be used as a start point. For such material, copyright agreements are established or reaffirmed at this stage.

Resources:With the aid of a CSA-assigned project manager, preparation of a working draft can now begin in accordance with CSA Directives and guidelines through the TC, a subsidiary committee(s), or a single technical expert. A subsidiary committee may be a task force, or as indicated earlier, a technical subcommittee (TSC).

Project schedule:CSA staff, in consultation with the TC, establish target dates for key milestones, including public and internal review, TC approval, final edit, and publication. A schedule is formed at this stage to ensure the availability, on a timely basis, of needed resources to advance the project.

Committee Stage

The committee stage involves the development of technical content of a draft. CSA technical subcommittees for specific electrical product sectors are well established, providing balanced expertise to prepare a draft on a consensus basis. For regional electrical standards, a CANENA technical harmonization committee (THC) may prepare the draft, prior to review by a CSA TSC or TC. The THC typically will include selected members from the corresponding CSA TSC, as well as technical experts from the other participating countries.

The technical content of a draft is developed at meetings (either in person or by video/teleconference), by correspondence, or by electronic means. Internet-based meeting methods are now appearing, providing a combination of teleconferencing with PC-based Internet access to the draft under development. Using this method, committee members can provide input, without the necessity of travel, while one person controls and updates the draft in real time.

During development, consideration is given to corresponding international activity, including relevant international documents and the work of the Canadian Subcommittee for IEC, where one exists. In the electrical safety sector, integration of CSA technical subcommittees with Standards Council of Canada, Canadian Subcommittees to the IEC is a current initiative underway at CSA.

All decisions regarding technical content are determined by consensus. Consensus on the technical content, which is the responsibility of the TC, is confirmed by letter ballot or recorded vote.

Enquiry Stage

At this stage, the draft is offered to the public for review and comment. The comments are then passed on to the appropriate committee for consideration, and if the draft is subsequently revised, the draft is re-circulated to the committee.

An internal review of the draft by CSA staff verifies compliance with CSA policy, format and editorial style. This is to ensure that all users of the standard will be able to reach a common understanding of its contents.

Approval Stage

First phase:The TC approves the technical content by letter ballot or recorded vote. The criterion for approval asks the questions, are the technical requirements reasonable and justifiable considering the state of the art in the particular field? Does the draft meet the defined need, and is the scope of the draft consistent with the technical requirements included?

For approval, defined numerical requirements for voting must be met, negative votes must be suitably dispositioned, and comments must be considered.

Second phase:In the first phase, the approval of technical content by the TC is final. The second phase, Second Level Review, is a strict procedural review by an internal CSA committee to verify that all required steps during development have occurred in accordance with CSA Directives and guidelines.

Publication Stage

Completion of the previous stage is a prerequisite to proceeding with publication. When this stage is reached, a final edit by CSA staff verifies conformance with applicable editorial requirements. Then the standard is published. CSA Part II electrical equipment standards are available in a number of formats, including hard-copy text, PDF files (on-line) and CD-ROM.

The final standard may be voluntarily adopted for use, or may be referenced in legislation. Additionally, if in compliance with Standards Council of Canada requirements, CSA is authorized to publish the standard as a National Standard of Canada.

Maintenance Stage

The standard is maintained with the objective of keeping it up-to-date and technically valid. The same consensus development process as defined earlier, if required, develops amendments or new editions. A systematic (five-year) review of all CSA Part II standards is made, and reaffirmed as written, or a new edition, if appropriate, is produced.CSA CE Code, Part II standards provide the product requirements for certification of electrical equipment in Canada. Only products bearing one of the marks or labels applicable for Canada, from an accredited certification organization are normally considered approved by Canadian regulators, within their authority and jurisdiction to approve electrical products.

For harmonized standards that are regional or international, national differences applicable strictly to Canada, if any, appear within the Part II standard. Products bearing one of the marks or labels, applicable for Canada, indicate approval for use in Canada through compliance with the Part II standard, and must include compliance with any requirements for national differences for Canada.

CSA International, a division of CSA Group that offers global conformity assessment services, is an OSHA-accredited testing laboratory in the United States. Electrical inspectors accept products certified by CSA International to U.S. standards if they are adorned with the CSA/US certification mark.

In summary, for Canada a list of CSA Canadian Electrical Code, Part II, Safety Standards for Electrical Equipment appears in Appendix A of the CSA Canadian Electrical Code, Part I. Each of these electrical equipment standards have been developed and maintained, using CSA’s consensus standards development process.