ESA Manufacturer Registration in Ontario, Canada

Electrical Safety Authority LogoThis story updated 4-​Feb-​2014.

Since February 17th, 2009, there has been an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion thread on the PSES’s EMC-​PSTC list on the new Manufacturer’s Registry in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Since there was so much interest, I decided to try to sum­mar­ize things here.

Background

Ontario is the second old­est and the most pop­u­lous Province in Canada, with 12,160,282 people as of the 2006 census. Canada has 10 Provinces and three Territories. Ontario is Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ing heart­land and is often a lead­er in new legis­la­tion.

ESA, or the Electrical Safety Authority as they are more prop­erly known, is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in the Province of Ontario, Canada. This means that they are author­ized by the Government of Ontario to reg­u­late elec­tric­al safety in the Province. ESA was formerly the inspec­tion arm of Ontario Hydro, a crown cor­por­a­tion dis­solved in 1998. ESA provides build­ing and equip­ment elec­tric­al inspec­tion ser­vices to the pub­lic and industry in the Province, and pub­lishes the Ontario Electrical Code. The Code is adap­ted dir­ectly from CSA’s Canadian Electrical Code – Part 1 (CSA C22.1), with Provincial devi­ations.

On 1-​Aug-​07, the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services filed Ontario Regulation 438/​07, Product Safety. This new reg­u­la­tion enables the Electrical Safety Authority to reg­u­late the safety of elec­tric­al products and equip­ment sold and used in Ontario.

The reg­u­la­tion was phased in to ensure that ESA and stake­hold­ers had enough time to devel­op tech­nic­al guid­ance to sup­port the reg­u­la­tion.

  • On 1-​Oct-​07 the sec­tions of the reg­u­la­tion that gov­ern approv­al of elec­tric­al products (cur­rently con­tained in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code) and that allow notice be giv­en to the pub­lic of unsafe elec­tric­al products came into effect.
  • On 1-​Jan-​08 oth­er sec­tions relat­ing to ESA’s invest­ig­at­ive and order-​making powers came into effect.
  • On 1-​Jul-​08 sec­tions of the reg­u­la­tion requir­ing organ­iz­a­tions to report ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ents or defects came into effect.
  • On 1-​Apr-​09 the Registry will open and man­u­fac­tur­ers can begin to register with ESA. For man­u­fac­tur­ers cur­rently selling products in Ontario, regis­tra­tions must be com­pleted by 30-​Aug-​09. This require­ment is cur­rently post­poned. For more inform­a­tion, see this art­icle. If your com­pany wants to begin selling products in Ontario, the com­pany must register before products can be sold.

What is the Registry?

Recent Changes in the Ontario Electricity Act have increased the require­ments for report­ing of “ser­i­ous incid­ents” with elec­tric­al ori­gins. These require­ments are found in Ontario Regulation 438 on Product Safety. In the past, sig­ni­fic­ant num­bers of injur­ies caused by either unap­proved equip­ment, or fraud­u­lently marked equip­ment have occurred. When ESA has invest­ig­ated the equip­ment, they run into prob­lems with find­ing the ori­gin­at­or of the gear, and there­fore the per­son or com­pany who bears respons­ib­il­ity for the prob­lem. The new addi­tions to the reg­u­la­tion address this by requir­ing report­ing of severe injur­ies caused by elec­tric­al equip­ment. In order to improve trace­ab­il­ity of elec­tric­al products sold in Ontario, ESA intro­duced the Manufacturer’s Registry, and made it man­dat­ory under their author­ity as the AHJ in Ontario. See the Ontario Regulation. Registration begins 1-​Apr-​09. Registration must be com­pleted by 30-​Aug-​09. The man­dat­ory Registration dead­line has been indef­in­itely post­poned. A fee of $350 Canadian dol­lars must be paid in the first year, with a reduced fee in each fol­low­ing year.

Manufacturers of elec­tric­al equip­ment for sale in Ontario are required to register with ESA, regard­less of wheth­er they are loc­ated in Ontario or else­where. Failure to register will mean that cer­ti­fied or labeled elec­tric­al products will be deemed to be unap­proved and non-​compliant with the Ontario Electrical Code. Under Regulation 438, it is illeg­al to sell, dis­play or use unap­proved elec­tric­al products [Section 5]. Under the Industrial Establishments reg­u­la­tions (part of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act), it is illeg­al to use unap­proved elec­tric­al products in the work­place [Section 40]. Similar require­ments are also found in the Construction Regulations (Ontario Regulation 213, Section 185).

More inform­a­tion on the Registry can be found on the ESA web site in the Product Safety area. There are a num­ber of FAQ’s avail­able from this page as well. They include:

The regis­tra­tion is per man­u­fac­turer and NOT per product, so once you have registered your com­pany you do not need to re-​register for every product.

Recognized elec­tric­al safety marks

ESA provides a list of all of the Certification and Inspection marks that are recog­nized in the province. As long as your product or the products you are selling bear one of these marks, the product can be dis­played, sold or used in the Province, pre­sum­ing the man­u­fac­turer is registered.

View the list of Recognized Marks and Field Evaluation Labels.

What is a ‘ser­i­ous incid­ent’?

Regulation 438 defines a ser­i­ous incid­ent in Section 1:

ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent” means an elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent that,

(a) res­ults in death or ser­i­ous injury to a per­son,

(b) has the poten­tial to cause death or a risk of ser­i­ous injury to a per­son, or

© causes or has the poten­tial to cause sub­stan­tial prop­erty dam­age.

Reporting Requirements

Once your com­pany has registered with ESA, any ser­i­ous incid­ents occur­ring any­where you mar­ket your products becomes report­able, but only for products sold in Ontario.

Quoting from Regulation 438:

8. (1)  A man­u­fac­turer, whole­saler, import­er, product dis­trib­ut­or or retail­er that becomes aware of a ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent or a defect in the design, con­struc­tion or func­tion­ing of an elec­tric­al product or device that affects or is likely to affect the safety of any per­son or cause dam­age to prop­erty, shall report to the Authority as soon as prac­tic­able after becom­ing aware of the ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent or defect.

(2)  A cer­ti­fic­a­tion body or field eval­u­ation agency that becomes aware of a ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent or a defect in the design, con­struc­tion or func­tion­ing of an elec­tric­al product or device that was the sub­ject of a report giv­en by the cer­ti­fic­a­tion body or field eval­u­ation agency that affects or is likely to affect the safety of any per­son or cause dam­age to prop­erty shall report to the Authority as soon as prac­tic­able after becom­ing aware of the ser­i­ous elec­tric­al incid­ent or acci­dent or defect.

There is more to Section 8 of the reg­u­la­tion than quoted. Additional sub­sec­tions include inform­a­tion on what needs to be in the report and who needs to be involved in the invest­ig­a­tion. If you need to make a report, check the rest of Section 8 first.

For example, say that your com­pany man­u­fac­tures a wid­get, Model 1523. Model 1523 is sold in the USA, Ontario Canada, Mexico and India. The com­pany also man­u­fac­tures a dif­fer­ent wid­get, Model 2000, sold in the USA and Mexico.

At some point, reports of elec­tric­al shock and fires caused by Model 2000 start to come into your Product Safety depart­ment. Do you need to report this to ESA? NO – Model 2000 is not sold in Ontario, so severe incid­ents caused by that mod­el do not require report­ing to ESA.

Model 1523 has a clean record, so no report­ing is required there. After man­u­fac­tur­ing Model 1523 for a few years, a key com­pon­ent is changed for a cost reduced ver­sion from a dif­fer­ent sup­pli­er. Six months after the change, reports come in from Mexico and India that users have been killed by elec­tric shock received from units of Model 1523. After invest­ig­at­ing the reports, your Product Safety depart­ment determ­ines that the faulty units used the new com­pon­ent. Do you need to report this to ESA? YES – because Model 1523 is sold in Ontario.

Here’s anoth­er example. Your com­pany imports elec­tric­al products from a num­ber of coun­tries and sells them whole­sale to large retail­ers, some of whom have stores in Ontario. Do you need to register? NO – But you can­not leg­ally sell products from man­u­fac­tur­ers who are not registered in Ontario.

What if the products are impor­ted into Ontario but are not sold to users in the Province, and are only ware­housed and whole­saled to retail­ers or oth­er dis­trib­ut­ors out­side of Ontario? Do you need to register? NO – But you must com­ply with the require­ments in the oth­er jur­is­dic­tions where the product is sold. Check with the AHJ in each Province or Territory where your products are sold to determ­ine the require­ments.

What if I become aware of ser­i­ous incid­ents that are occur­ring with products I sell in Ontario? You MUST report them to ESA, wheth­er you make the product, import, dis­trib­ute or retail it.

What Products are Covered by the Regulations?

  • Consumer elec­tric­al products;
  • Commercial elec­tric­al products;
  • Electrical Medical Devices;
  • Industrial elec­tric­al products;
  • Wiring devices and products;
  • Battery-​operated devices used in Hazardous Locations;
  • Battery char­gers used with bat­tery oper­ated products;
  • Hardwired and plug-​in life safety products like Smoke Detectors and CO Detectors;
  • Certified com­pon­ents used in any of the above.

Will this become a Canadian National System?

This is not yet known. There are dis­cus­sions going on with the oth­er Provinces and Territories, how­ever these are very pre­lim­in­ary stages. ESA has stated that they are sup­port­ive of a National Program should it be developed, but at this time these require­ments exist only in Ontario.

Tax Grab?

Some people have expressed the opin­ion that this is simply a way to mask a new tax, since regis­tra­tion fees are pay­able on an annu­al basis. In fact, a means is required to fund the registry, and the fees col­lec­ted are to be used for that pur­pose. See the Funding Model Report. Since ESA’s man­date is to pro­tect the people of Ontario from elec­tric­al haz­ards, and since there are increas­ing num­bers of ser­i­ous incid­ents occur­ring where the products turn out be be unap­proved or fraud­u­lently marked, this is a reas­on­able way for the Authority to gain con­trol over the products enter­ing the mar­ket­place, and to hold every­one in the sup­ply chain respons­ible for ensur­ing that only approved products are sold in the Province.

Since there is no new mark­ing require­ment, and since reput­able man­u­fac­tur­ers are already cer­ti­fy­ing or labeling their products for sale, and fur­ther­more since the regis­tra­tion fee is quite small for any organ­iz­a­tion selling any quant­ity of product in the Province, this is not an oner­ous require­ment. You are still free to have any SCC accred­ited body whose mark is recog­nized in Ontario do the cer­ti­fic­a­tion work.

Will it work?

This is the big unknown. Canadians are known for cre­at­ing regis­tries in response to a per­ceived need to con­trol some­thing. Notable fail­ures include the National Do Not Call registry was sup­posed to allow Canadians to register their phone num­bers with the gov­ern­ment, who was then requir­ing Canadian based tele­marketers to scrub those num­bers from their call­ing data­bases. Unfortunately this only provided num­bers to off-​shore tele­marketers who are using the DNC Registry lists as a way to get num­bers to call.

It’s unfair to group this registry with the pre­vi­ous example for a num­ber of reas­ons. The imple­ment­a­tion of this registry is dif­fer­ent from the pre­vi­ous example in intent and exe­cu­tion. Compliance is mon­itored by the entire sup­ply chain. It prob­ably stands a pretty good chance of work­ing. Time will tell!

Update on this story

4-​Feb-​2014

Since this story was ori­gin­ally writ­ten in March of 2009, all men­tion of the Manufacturer’s Registry has dis­ap­peared from the ESA web site. When I have tried to con­tact people involved in the ori­gin­al roll out of the Registry, they do not respond. I have asked for the oppor­tun­ity to inter­view one per­son in par­tic­u­lar and have yet to receive any kind of reply.

It would seem that this pro­gram has been allowed to quietly die, how­ever the legis­la­tion that per­mit­ted it to be cre­ated in the first place remains unchanged. Depending on the mood of those in charge, it could the­or­et­ic­ally be brought back to life again.

Author: Doug Nix

+DougNix is Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Compliance InSight Consulting, Inc. (http://www.complianceinsight.ca) in Kitchener, Ontario, and is Lead Author and Managing Editor of the Machinery Safety 101 blog.

Doug's work includes teaching machinery risk assessment techniques privately and through Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, as well as providing technical services and training programs to clients related to risk assessment, industrial machinery safety, safety-related control system integration and reliability, laser safety and regulatory conformity.

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  • tfortin

    DO NOT REGISTER WITH THE ESA
    This post is very mis­lead­ing.
    Ontario Regulation 438-​/​07 does NOT man­date any regis­traion require­ments. This is a tax grab.
    See http://​www​.ontrak​.net/​e​s​a​f​e​e​.​htm for details.

    • Thanks tfortin for your post. The facts in my post will stand up to scru­tiny, and at the moment regis­tra­tion is man­dat­ory if only because ESA says it is. 

      I can appre­ci­ate your pos­i­tion on this mat­ter, and in fact it mir­rors my ori­gin­al ques­tion posed to ESA – “What is the leg­al basis for the Registry, since Regulation 438 does not men­tion it?”. You are quite cor­rect in say­ing that Regulation 438/​07 does not man­date the registry. In fact there is no spe­cif­ic legis­la­tion that says that ESA must cre­ate and main­tain such a registry. The reg­u­la­tion DOES require report­ing of “ser­i­ous incid­ents” [see Clause 8].

      How can ESA go ahead and demand regis­tra­tion? It’s simple – they are the AHJ in Ontario and have the leg­al man­date through the Electricity Act and the Regulations to pro­tect the safety of the cit­izens of Ontario in whatever way they decide is appro­pri­ate. If they decide that a registry of man­u­fac­tur­ers is the way to handle the prob­lems with non-​compliant products that is with­in their pur­view.

      I think that mak­ing the state­ment that this is a ‘tax grab’ is an unfor­tu­nate knee-​jerk reac­tion. On the oth­er hand I don’t know that this pro­cess will actu­ally help con­trol the prob­lem that it is inten­ded to address.

      In the mean time, I would recom­mend the fol­low­ing to every­one that dis­agrees, but wants to be able to con­tin­ue to do busi­ness in the province: Pay the regis­tra­tion fee and register with ESA

      THEN:
      Write to the Minister of Small Business and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable Harinder Takar, infosbcs@ontario.ca.
      Write to the Premier of the Province, the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, https://​www​.premi​er​.gov​.on​.ca/​f​e​e​d​b​a​c​k​/​f​e​e​d​b​a​c​k​.​asp, or go to his web site and get the phys­ic­al address and WRITE.
      Write to the head of ESA, Mr. Bob Stelzer, bob.stelzer@electricalsafety.on.ca and the VP of Regulatory Affairs, Mr. Peter Marcucci, peter.marcucci@electricalsafety.on.ca.

      These are the people who must listen and who can change things.

      I am not now, nor have I ever been an employ­ee of ESA, nor does our com­pany have any oth­er rela­tion­ship with ESA for any pur­pose. We are an inde­pend­ent product safety con­sultancy loc­ated in Ontario.

      Keep the com­ments com­ing!

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