Dual Role of Electrical Regulators

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Canadian electrical safety system is an envy of many countries that use their installation codes for regulatory purposes.

This system is an excellent example of uniformity and consistency on application of the Canadian Electrical Code throughout jurisdictional areas of the country. The reason for such uniformity is based on the fact that all electrical inspection authorities adopting the CE Code for enforcement purposes actively partake in the development of this very document.

Organization and rules of procedure of the CE Code, Part I, are designed in such a way that not a single provincial/territorial electrical inspections body is omitted from participation on the CEC Technical Committee.

The matrix of the technical committee (Clause C2.3.1 of Appendix C of the CE Code) includes all thirteen provincial and territorial chief electrical inspectors as the committee members representing “”Regulatory Authority””. This approach is instrumental in ensuring that the CEC is adopted for use in all provincial and territorial jurisdictions as an applicable provincial/territorial electrical code. While some jurisdictions adopt the CE Code without any administrative or technical amendments, others make a few administrative/legal changes to Section 2 of the CE Code, to reflect specifics of their particular administrative process. There are also a few provinces that choose to make some changes to the technical content of the CE Code, in order to recognize unique environmental, health or safety provisions.

For example, Electrical Safety Authority in Ontario, the sole electrical safety regulatory body in the province, has modified the CE Code for adoption and enforcement as the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, and this modification has been achieved through a comprehensive consensus based advisory process.

In addition to thirteen provincial/territorial chief electrical inspectors/code administrators, three municipal electrical inspections bodies are also included in the matrix of the technical committee on the CE Code, Part I. Traditionally these are three municipalities that are located in different areas of the country (from Atlantic, Pacific and prairie regions) and are governed by their unique municipal charter or by law have retained such membership.

For quite some time, the cities of Halifax, Winnipeg, and Vancouver had been representing municipal electrical inspectors on the CE Code committee.

In the late 80s, when inspection responsibilities in Halifax had been assigned to Nova Scotia Power, the created vacancy allowed the chief electrical inspector for the city of Calgary to join this dedicated group of experts.

Electrical inspectors participate in the Code committee not only as formal members in accordance with the Committee matrix. Various electrical inspectors are actively involved as chairs and members of technical sections subcommittees, selflessly committing their time and knowledge to the consensus process of the Code development.

It is interesting to note that the electrical inspectors category on the Code committee is only one of three categories that are recognized by the Appendix C matrix requirements.

Two other categories are: Owner/Operator/Producer and General Interest. While the owner/operator/producer group represents viewpoints of electrical installation users, electrical designers, contractors, manufacturers of electrical equipment, the general interest category reflects views of power and communication utilities, educators, labor, fire chiefs, and so forth. All areas of representation are clearly identified in Clause C2.3.1 of the CE Code Appendix C.

It is also interesting to note that in accordance with the CSA guidelines not a single category on the committee may dominate other categories of representatives. Thus, matrix allows a maximum of sixteen electrical inspectors (which is the present number on the committee) for a total of 41 committee members.

Appendix C of the CE Code also takes into account a fact that chief electrical inspectors on the committee may have regulatory/legal concerns related to some of the requirements proposed during a Code development process. As such, a specific tool has been developed to recognize these potential concerns—by establishing very clear provisions for a Regulatory Authority committee (RAC). RAC acts as the section subcommittee for legal amendments. RAC consists of all chief electrical inspectors who are members of the Code committee. Scope, mandate and operation of RAC are described in Section C3 of Appendix C. When a RAC member submits a negative vote during the committee discussion process, this member must identify whether this negative vote is made on technical grounds only, or it manifests legal concerns related to a jurisdictional enforcement of the proposed requirement. This RAC member must provide a comprehensive and transparent substantiation of the negative that relates to the regulatory concerns and must (through the RAC deliberation process) derive at the acceptable alternative solution that could be adopted by the entire Code committee.

Such objective process certainly helps in avoiding any surprises when the CE Code is being adopted for regulatory use in each jurisdictional area.

This process allows the electrical safety regulators to continually “keep their finger on the pulse” of the CE Code practicability, as in their role as the technical enforcers of the adopted CE Code, they notice any “imperfections” of this document. And when “imperfections” are noted, electrical inspectors try to make Code improvements by submitting proposals for technical amendments or by encouraging their customers (installers, designers, consumers) to participate in this continuing process.

No doubt—this is a great cycle, and a dual role of the electrical inspectors only brings this cycle to a desired perfection.

About the Author

Ark Tsisserev is president of EFS Engineering Solutions, Ltd., an electrical and fire safety consulting company, and is a registered professional engineer with a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Prior to becoming a consultant, Ark was an electrical safety regulator for the city of Vancouver. He is currently the chair of the Technical Committee for the Canadian Electrical Code and represents the CE Code Committee on the CMP-1 of the National Electrical Code. Ark can be reached by e-mail at: ark.tsisserev@efsengineering.ca His company web site is: http://www.efsengineering.ca