What to do if an Electrical Product Appears Not to Meet Canadian Safety Standards
Occasionally an organization or private individual becomes aware of a consumer or commercial product that appears to be unsafe, or does not appear to be a legitimate product properly certified for its intended purpose. For example, an indicator may be the labeling has spelling mistakes, the marks or logos on the product don’t appear to be correct, or some other feature that appears to be abnormal. All electrical products for example, must be tested and certified by a Standards Council of Canada (SCC) accredited Certification Body (CB) against a recognized Canadian product standard. The product can then be safely installed according to the rules of the relevant jurisdictional adopted CSA Canadian Electrical Code.
When you suspect there may be a potential safety concern with an electrical product, it should be reported. There are several organizations that should be informed:
- Certifying Bodies,
- Provincial Authorities,
- Standards Council of Canada, and
- Health Canada for consumer products.
The following are examples of what should be reported:
- Fire, shock or other personal injury or property damage allegedly caused by a certified product
- Misuse, misrepresentation or unauthorized use of a certification Mark
- Noncompliance with Canadian safety standard for that product
- Inappropriate or unauthorized reference(s) to product certification on packaging, web sites, brochures or ads
For any of these examples, the Certification Body whose Mark appears on or is associated with a suspect product, should be notified. A directory of all Canadian Accredited Product, Process and Service CBs and Inspection Bodies can be found on the SCC website:
The three most commonly used CBs in the electrical market are as follows:
- CSA – Market Surveillance Report Form
- Additional information: Certification Marks and Labels – Anti-Counterfeiting
Products Testing, Inspection & Certification: +1 800 967 5352
What does the Certification Body do with the Market Surveillance reports?
The relevant CB opens product incident reports to investigate concerns about the certified product sent to them by consumers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). When a product incident report is opened, the CB verifies the concern, works to determine the root cause and takes appropriate action to resolve the concern.
Those reporting a product incident will receive an acknowledgment that the CB has received their submission. Investigations can take a few days to several months to complete, depending upon their complexity. Unfortunately, when their investigation is complete, they may not be able to share their conclusions with you, particularly where they do have a contracted confidential agreement with the manufacturer or importer. Should the product in question be found unsafe, the CB will work with the manufacturer/importer to establish a product recall.
- A copy of your complaint letter should also be directed to the relevant regulatory authority where that product was found. All the relevant Canadian authorities can be found on the Regulatory Authority Advisory Bodies (RAAB) SCC page. Each CB is obligated under their accreditation to report field incidents annually to their RAAB.
Regulatory Authority Advisory Bodies
For our sector, the Canadian Advisory Council on Electrical Safety (CACES):
Normand Breton, CACES Executive Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Another copy of your complaint letter should be sent to SCC. The contact person there is: Chantal Guay, Vice-President, Accreditation Services email@example.com SCC also verifies the CB’s reported incident follow-up record during the accreditation regular audits.
- In addition, should the suspect product also be a consumer product, it should be reported to Health Canada – Consumer Product Safety Incident Reporting: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/advisories-avis/incident/index-eng.php
For additional information, please contact:
Bill Bryans | VP, Technical Services – Electrical | Electro-Federation Canada