ESA Manufacturer Registration in Ontario, Canada

Do you make elec­tri­cal prod­ucts sold in Ontario, Cana­da? Are you aware of the need to reg­is­ter your com­pa­ny with the Elec­tri­cal Safe­ty Author­i­ty (ESA) in order to sell your prod­ucts legal­ly? If not, spend some time and catch up on the new ESA Manufacturer’s Reg­istry!

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.