Machinery Safety 101

ESA Manufacturer Registration in Ontario, Canada

Electrical Safety Authority LogoThis story updated 2014-02-04, 2018-06-11, and 2020-06-07.

Update on this story

2020-06-07 — ESA has removed all ref­er­ences to the Man­u­fac­turer­’s Registry from their web­site.


Since this story was ori­gin­ally writ­ten in March of 2009, all men­tion of the Man­u­fac­turer­’s Registry has dis­ap­peared from the ESA web­site. When I have tried to con­tact people involved in the ori­gin­al rol­lout of the Registry, they do not respond. I have asked for the oppor­tun­ity to inter­view one per­son in par­tic­u­lar and had 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.

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.


Ontario is the second old­est and the most pop­u­lous Province in Canada, with 14,193,384 people as of 1‑Jul-2017. Canada has 10 Provinces and three Ter­rit­or­ies. Ontario, along with Québec, form Canada’s man­u­fac­tur­ing heart­land. Due to Ontari­o’s pop­u­la­tion and con­tri­bu­tion to Canada’s GDP, the Province is often a lead­er in new legis­la­tion.

The 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 organ­isa­tions 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. If your com­pany wants to begin selling products in Ontario, the com­pany must register before products can be sold. This require­ment has been post­poned. For more inform­a­tion, see this art­icle.

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 CA$350 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 labelled 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 web­site in the Product Safety area. There are some FAQ’s avail­able from this page as well. They include:

*If the links fail to work, please see the down­load links at the end of this art­icle.

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

(c) 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 the 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 to 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 labelling 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 an SCC accred­ited body whose mark is recog­nized in Ontario do the cer­ti­fic­a­tion work.

Will it work?

Will the Registry actu­ally reduce the incid­ence of fraud­u­lently marked or unmarked products on store shelves, thereby improv­ing elec­tric­al safety in the Province? 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!


5 thoughts on “ESA Manufacturer Registration in Ontario, Canada

  1. Pingback: Press Controls
    1. 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.

      Write to the Min­is­ter of Small Busi­ness and Con­sumer Affairs, the Hon­our­able Harinder Takar,
      Write to the Premi­er of the Province, the Hon­our­able Dalton McGuinty,, or go to his web site and get the phys­ic­al address and WRITE.
      Write to the head of ESA, Mr. Bob Stelzer, and the VP of Reg­u­lat­ory Affairs, Mr. Peter Mar­cucci,

      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!

  2. Pingback: ESA Manufacturer Registration in Ontario, Canada | Machinery … | ManufacturerZone.Com

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