ESA provides guidance regarding inspections 03 June 2020
By Anthony Capkun
June 8, 2020 – Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority has issued the following guidance regarding inspections.
Priorities for inspections
1. Emergency and public safety infrastructure equipment.
• This includes electrical work for in-home medical equipment installed to release capacity in the hospitals for the expected influx of COVID-19 patients.
2. ESA will give priority to workplaces included on the Essential Business List; however, will not enter occupied areas of the following facilities due to the vulnerable nature of these populations (except for critical or emergency services as approved by the ESA general manager and/or senior inspector).
• Long-term care homes and seniors residences hospitals
• Retirement homes
• Daycare facilities
• Community housing for non-critical routine inspections
3. Connection authorizations, organized through Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) so people can receive electrical service from their Local Distribution Company (LDCs).
4. Disconnect and Holds, organized by LECs and (a.k.a. “Disconnect and Hold”). This will allow LDCs to facilitate service upgrades, emergency panel changes and service repairs.
1. Remote assessment/inspection are the alternate means of fieldwork when a site visit cannot be made safely.
2. At the inspector’s discretion, they will use a range of options and discretion to both allow busi-ness to continue, exercise their authority and conduct inspections in the coming days and weeks.
• Pass without a visit as directed and guided by ESA’s Best Business Practices.
• Sampling tools in ACP, and the soon-to-be implemented RBO Photos, if invited to be sent by the inspector.
• Videos: live or recorded, if invited to be sent by the inspector.
• Instead of visiting a facility or dwelling, the inspector meets the LEC performing the work at a safe location to review pictures, videos and any other available evidence to give the inspector com-fort regarding the state of electrical safety for the site or installation.
• When entering an installation, only view or access the areas needed to complete the notification. Touch as little as possible and maintain a safe social distance.
• If an inspector is unable to physically view an installation but has accepted pictures, videos or other evidence, they will record what was accepted or what they were/were not able to view in the notification comments, preceded with “COVID19”. The applicant will be required to submit an attestation verifying the accuracy and authenticity of the pictures and videos as a complete representation of the state of their installation.
3. Access arranged appointments: ESA will notify these customers/clients directly that dedicated appointments will not be available, and the inspector will visit some time through the day, provided the site does meet the exclusions set out below.
Inspections in homes for work by both contractors and non-contractors
• Low exposure work, such as exterior visits, garages, sheds and unoccupied spaces can continue in-person with minimal additional safety protocol.
• If visits in residential dwellings can be delayed, they should be.
• If a visit in an occupied residential dwelling cannot be delayed, the inspector will conduct a risk assessment prior to entry, and utilize the necessary PPE.
Criteria for in-person residential visits
• Alternative methods of inspection review have been considered and no other method can be used to ensure we are meeting our regulatory requirements e.g. video, phone, phone consultation, off-peak hours, etc.
• Inspector and homeowner/tenant have no underlying health conditions or concerns that place them at higher risk.
• To minimize contact with surfaces in the home, the homeowner/tenant/contractor should be prepared to open doors, turn on lights, provide access to areas where electrical work has been done, etc.
Requirements for in-person residential visits
• For the health and safety of both ESA employees and public/occupants, the interior of occupied residential dwellings should be vacated for 2 hours. The time frame is to allow airborne particles to settle on surfaces (reduced likelihood of respiratory ingestion).
• Where it is not practical to delay work, and where the inspector must enter the interior of a dwell-ing:
– The inspector will arrange an access time with the homeowner/tenant/contractor.
– The inspector will call the customer prior to arrival to enquire if anyone on the premises is unwell and/or has travelled outside the province/country in the last 14 days. If someone is unwell or has had COVID-19 related symptoms within the last 48 hours, and the inspector agrees that the visit cannot be delayed, then adequate PPE will be worn and H&S protocols followed as dictated by the risk assessment.
– The contact person should be informed in advance that any PPE worn at the site will be left at the site for disposal by the site contact. The used PPE will be left in a bag at site, for disposal by the homeowner/tenant/contractor.
– The inspector will perform as much of the pre-work consultation as possible before arriving on a customer site i.e. have the homeowner/Tenant/Contractor send pictures or more detailed information than usual/customary. This will keep the inspector’s time onsite to a minimum.
– Inspectors will perform their duties while maintaining at least 2 m or 6 ft distance from others. This may include asking homeowners/tenants/contractors to move to a room with a closed door or another area of the residence, or wear a mask while work is being completed.
– To minimize contact with surfaces in the home, homeowners/tenants/contractors to open doors and turn on lights before the inspector enters to work.
• If at any time during a field visit an inspector notices anything that concerns them with respect to COVID-19, the inspector will discontinue the visit.
Training, exams and events
• ESA staff will not attend external meetings of large groups.
• All training sessions and all master exams are postponed until further notice.
Technical advisors are available to assist with answers to technical questions, code interpretations, as well as provide assistance with concerns over any video or picture.
These steps are taken both to protect the residents of those facilities, as well as ESA staff from exposure.