Online Safety Guide for Electrical Products
Product certification = a trusted stamp for safety
Most electrical products that are advertised, displayed and sold online must be approved by an accredited certification body. These certification bodies evaluate and certify a broad range of products, including electrical, plumbing, personal protective equipment and others. Once evaluated to safety standards, a trusted certification mark is affixed to the product to provide consumers with confidence in knowing the product is safe for use.
Before you add to cart…check for the certification mark!
Online shopping is as simple as ‘click and order’, but before you add products to your cart and check-out, be smart and be safe. While shopping online, if you come across an unmarked, uncertified electrical product, contact the retailer or seller for information about the product’s certification to Canadian safety standards. You can also reach out to the electrical safety regulator in your province or territory for next steps and guidance [see sidebar]. In addition, if you encounter a safety incident while using an electrical product, you are encouraged to report the incident to Health Canada [see sidebar].
It is important to always think about where you are purchasing products from and if the products are approved and meet Canadian safety certifications. This is especially true for electrical products, which have powerful applications but can be harmful if purchased, installed and used without checking certification marks first.
What do the certification marks look like?
There are a variety of certification bodies that are accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. These bodies each have different certification marks and country identifiers, but all are recognized as ‘safety stamps of approval’ in Canada.
Click here to explore the approved certification marks for electrical products that you should be on the lookout for when purchasing electrical goods.
These certification marks help protect you and your family, so be on the lookout, stay safe and report any unmarked, uncertified electrical products to your provincial safety regulator.
Which electrical products require certification?
There is an exception to certification requirements: most electrical products require a certification mark, but not all. Here’s a general rule to keep in mind: Canadian safety standards and certifications are required for:
a) products that plug into a power outlet to operate or are connected to the electrical supply (e.g. LED light fixtures and LED lamps, power tools, power bars/extension cords, lighting controls and sensors, USB phone and tablet chargers, and other such products that run on electricity).
b) components that are part of an electrical system (e.g. circuit breakers, receptacles, wire and cable; these products are not be directly plugged into an outlet, but are core components of electrical systems).
Online Safety Guide for Electrical Product Purchases
Before you add an electrical product to your cart, be mindful of these important safety measures to protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Purchase from a trusted source.Reputable retailers and electrical distributors stand by the products that they advertise and sell. They safeguard your purchase by providing product guarantees, warranties and fair return/exchange policies. Look out for these coverage factors when shopping online. Product descriptions should also include the name of the manufacturer and/or the product’s country of origin.
Also, look out for products sold through third-party sellers or “marketplace” sellers; the products are not directly offered by the online retailer, and therefore, may not abide by the same consumer policies that retailers are subject to.
- Check for the certification mark
Always check online product descriptions and specifications for certification marks. Be careful of words such as “meets” or “passes”, as the products may not be certified. Avoid electrical products that do not have a certification mark from an SCC-recognized certification organization. View the certification marks that you should be on the lookout for when purchasing electrical goods. [link to SCC’s webpage]
- Stay alert: product pricing, photos & reviews
Be weary of pricing that is “too good to be true”. While online retailers and distributors typically offer sales and other special promotions, products generally keep their fair market value. Use your judgement when you see a product listed for far below market value. Buyer beware: the item could be used, refurbished or even a knock-off. It is also important to carefully examine available photos and product specifications to check for authenticity – and read product reviews (if available) to further validate the product and the seller/retailer.
In addition, products offered for sale online may be subject to a recall. You can check whether a consumer product is subject to a recall by accessing the Health Canada Recalls and Safety alerts webpage [see sidebar].
- The day has arrived: check your shipped purchase before you install or use it
Once you receive your order, inspect the product to look for appropriate certification markings. The authenticity of the marks can be confirmed by contacting the relevant certification body. You’ll also want to be on the lookout for spelling or grammatical errors, misprints on certification marks. If the product or packaging does not look right, trust your instincts and report it to the certification body listed on the label as well as to Health Canada.
Download this checklist to keep on-hand before you place your next online order of electrical products. [to create]