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Assessments at Technical Safety BC
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Assessments: Electrical

Are you in our jurisdiction?

Technical Safety BC completes inspections and issues electrical permits throughout most of British Columbia, however, select municipalities offer their own inspections and issue their own electrical permits. Refer to our jurisdiction page before making a new request.

Electrical assessments at Technical Safety BC

Technical Safety BC performs routine remote and physical inspections on electrical work and electrical equipment in commercial, industrial, or residential premises.

Field Safety Representatives are primarily responsible for performing inspections on work completed by licensed contractors. If a safety officer has identified an aspect of your work that doesn’t comply with regulations, you must fix it and notify the safety officer with a declaration for assessment.

To request an assessment, complete our Electrical Contractor Authorization and Declaration Form. Once we receive your form, our safety officers will review the information and determine the appropriate next step, which can be one of the following options:

  • Waive the inspection: we accept the permit holder’s declaration of compliance and do not perform a remote or physical inspection. This means no inspection will be performed and no certificate of inspection will be issued.
  • Schedule a physical inspection: if a high hazard has been identified or is suspected, a safety officer will arrange to physically attend the site to perform the inspection. A certificate of inspection will be issued to the permit holder upon completion of the physical inspection.
  • Schedule a remote inspection:  a safety officer performs the inspection without physically attending the site. To carry out a remote inspection, they will request evidence of one or more of the information types listed below. Alternatively, you can contact your local safety officer to arrange a time to walk through the installation via live video conferencing tools. A certificate of inspection will be issued to the permit holder upon completion of the remote inspection.

To support the remote inspection process, you will be asked to provide specific evidence that clearly demonstrates the scope of the regulated work or product.

Types of evidence that may be requested include, but are not limited to:

  • Photo or videos logs (time-stamped when necessary)
  • Documentation (PDFs, Word, etc.)
  • Live video conferencing

Since every permit and assessment has its own unique considerations, we cannot advise exactly what evidence will be required prior to receiving a request for inspection (declaration form). However, there are certain things you might be able to expect. Refer to Remote Assessments - Electrical Guideline for more information on what to expect. 

Remember to record your installations through photo and/or video logs and to retain copies of relevant documentation stored on site, so that these are available if requested by your local safety officer.

Any questions? Email us with the subject line “Remote assessments”.

Homeowners doing electrical work under the homeowner’s permit must request an inspection before any wiring is concealed or connected to a supply. The completed electrical work must also pass the final inspection by a safety officer. To request an inspection, complete and submit the Electrical Homeowner Inspection Request Form.

Inspection Fees

Inspection fees vary based on the day of the week, and the duration of the inspection.

View current fee schedules.

When you should submit a declaration for assessment

Many projects are complex and may experience safety hazards at different stages of work. Technical Safety BC works with permit holders every step of the way to help ensure the work being done is safe and compliant with regulations. You should declare each stage of work mentioned below, if applicable to you.

You must not do any of the following unless the regulated work has been inspected or the inspection has been waived:

  • Conceal any portion of the rough wiring
  • Connect power to the electrical supply system
  • Work on the next phase of the electrical work if an inspection is required before proceeding

Rough wiring declaration

Partial rough wire: when partial rough wiring is complete. Partial rough wire is when a portion of a limited area of the work for a specific phase under the scope of work is finished (e.g., single floor of a multi-floor building, a unit of row housing or the outside walls of a dwelling). 

Complete rough wire: when no further wiring is to be installed and all areas are ready for cover-up. A complete rough wire declaration is required in addition to a previously submitted partial rough wire declaration. Submit the declaration to Technical Safety BC and post a copy at the job site. The date shown for concealing must be no sooner than the start of the second business day after the online entry is made. A business day is defined as 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday except statutory holidays.

Service connection declaration

New Service: when new electrical service(s) are installed for new construction.

Service Upgrade or Relocation: when the existing electrical service is upgraded, modified, or when the main service panel is relocated to meet current code requirements.

Temporary Construction Service: when a temporary operating permit is required for service installations that are temporary in nature and will be disconnected once the construction or demolition phase of work is complete. The temporary operating permit is valid for 12 months from the date it is obtained. This permit is not renewable.

Contractor other: when a service requires repair due to external damage (e.g., storm damage).

Work in progress declaration

When work is ongoing, but no specific work is ready for concealment, connection,  and is not final. Notify your local safety officer with a work status update (e.g., local utility work-with), then use the “Work in Progress” category on the declaration to request an inspection. The inspection will be for the purposes of submitting the declaration to the utility, prior to the work being completed. Once the work is completed, the FSR or owner can submit another declaration for a connection request.

180 Days Safety Check declaration 

The owner or FSR is required to physically examine the installation at least once every 180 day period, and submit an inspection request as well as a declaration. This declaration is where no additional work has been completed.

If no inspection request has been submitted within a 180 day period, the holder of the permit must have the permit amended to allow for the extra time before performing any regulated work.

Final declaration

Submit your final declaration when all work under the scope of the permit is complete.

Frequently asked questions

Electrical contractor inspections

Why do Electrical Contractors need to know about de-energization?

The BC Electrical Code requires that electrical equipment must be deenergized before work is performed on them. This is also a requirement of WorkSafeBC’s OHS Regulation section 19.10 and 19.6.

Directive No. DEL 201602 interprets Rule 2304 of the BC Electrical Code as meaning that electrical work may only be carried out in a deenergized state unless it can be demonstrated that the task being performed is not possible in a deenergized state. Documentation must be made available to support this.

Examples of circumstances where a person may be able to demonstrate that complete disconnection is not feasible may include:

  • Installations where equipment design prohibits complete disconnection
  • Work such as troubleshooting control circuits
  • Testing and diagnostics where complete disconnection is not possible due to operational limitations
  • Conditions in which deenergizing the equipment introduces additional or increased hazards

Inconvenience or additional costs are not considered acceptable grounds for removing or bypassing the protective safety provisions of electrical equipment. It should be noted that removal of covers or barriers to expose bare energized conductors or circuit parts is considered energized electrical work.

Additional information can be found in information bulletin IB-EL 2013-01 Section 2, requirements to de-energize electrical equipment.
 
What are the hazards from exposed energized electrical systems or equipment?

The two primary electrical hazards associated with energized electrical equipment are shock and arc flash.

Electrical shock is the unwanted flow of current through the human body and can cause serious injury or death. Many people have been seriously injured or killed after receiving an electrical shock at 120 volts (normal household voltage). The amount of damage or injury is determined mainly by the amount of current (measured in amperes) that passes through the body. Electrical shock can often cause internal damage that may not be immediately apparent. Even less than 50 milliamperes can be fatal.

Arc flash is an unwanted flow of current in an abnormal electrical arc between two energized conductors or an energized conductor and a conductive material. An arc flash incident is usually initiated because of human interaction with electrical equipment in a manner that can cause an arc, exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts, or a mechanical failure of insulation, isolation, or guarding.

An arc flash can release high thermal energy, which may create plasma and a spray of molten material. The thermal energy can cause external burns to exposed skin and cause clothing to ignite. A person may also receive internal burns if they inhale molten metal or hot gases during the incident. Other injuries that may occur include loss of sight, lacerations, hearing loss from arc blast noise energy and physical trauma from arc blast pressure that may be released during an abnormal arcing fault and arc flash occurring. 

 
How do I request an inspection when there is energized electrical equipment?

When a Field Safety Representative (FSR) submits their inspection request and there is energized electrical equipment, there are two additional boxes that need to be selected as part of the inspection declaration. The selection of these boxes help the contractor and Technical Safety BC meet WorkSafeBC requirements.

  • I declare that energized electrical systems are in normal operation, are in a normal equipment condition and all barriers (e.g. panel covers) are in place.

The first box indicates the FSR has confirmed that energized electrical equipment is in normal operation, in a normal equipment condition, and safe to operate. Equipment that is not in normal operation or a normal equipment condition must be listed in the inspection request notes.

  • I understand the requirements for electrical equipment to be de-energized when an inspection is performed.

The second box indicates the FSR understands that electrical equipment must be de-energized and put into an electrically safe work condition when a safety officer performs an assessment inside electrical equipment. The FSR will notify others on site that equipment may be de-energized and be prepared to verify absence of voltage when requested by a safety officer.

These boxes are found in the online inspection requests and in section D of the Electrical Contractor Authorization and Declaration Inspection Request PDF.
 
What is normal operation for energized electrical equipment?
Normal operation is to cause electrical equipment to function within the manufacturer’s and engineered system’s specified design and operational parameters.  
What is a normal equipment condition for energized electrical equipment?

Normal equipment condition is when the electrical equipment is:

  • Properly installed
  • Properly maintained
  • Used in accordance with instruction included in the applicable Canadian Electrical Code, Part II standard
  • Used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Secured by closed doors and/or covers
  • Free from any evidence of impending failure 
 
What is an electrically safe work condition?

An electrically safe work condition is a state in which an electrical conductor or circuit part has been disconnected from energized parts (breaker or switch in the disconnected “off” position or conductor physically disconnected), locked out in accordance with established standards, tested to verify the absence of voltage, and if necessary, temporarily grounded for personnel protection (required for high voltage work).

 
What is an absence of voltage test?

Turning off a breaker does not mean that the circuit being worked on is de-energized. This is because of the potential for mechanical failure or human error. It is recommended that the ‘absence of voltage test’ be used to verify a de-energized condition and ensure that the power has been turned off before performing work on an electrical system. When an ‘absence of voltage test’ is performed, the test instrument is verified on a known voltage source before and after the voltage test is performed on the de-energized circuit. This is sometimes referred to as a “live-dead-live test” or a “3 point test.”

Technical Safety BC encourages the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, insulated tools, multimeter with fused leads, CSA certified footwear, and arc rated equipment when testing circuits.

 
What if an electrically safe work condition cannot be verified for the safety officer?

A safety officer may request the contractor de-energize the equipment and test for absence of voltage under the Safety Standards Act.

Under section 18(1)(e) of the Safety Standards Act, a safety officer may require any regulated product that is being inspected to be started, turned on, put in motion, tested, used, operated, stopped or turned off for the purpose of inspection.

If an electrically safe work condition cannot be verified, the safety officer may not be able to perform the inspection and a re-inspection may be required.

 
Where can I find additional information about an electrical safety program?

The BC Electrical Code, Appendix B, Rule 2-304 and WorkSafeBC Guidelines G19.10(2)(a) each reference the CSA Standard Z462 – Workplace Electrical Safety as a guideline for determining severity of potential exposure, planning safe work practices, and selecting personal protective equipment to protect against shock and arc flash hazards when developing an electrical safety program.

 

 

Electrical homeowner inspections

Why does an owner performing electrical work under a homeowner permit need to know about de-energization?

Homeowners are not allowed to work on exposed energized systems or equipment. When a homeowner is performing electrical work, they must understand the hazards of electricity, the requirements to de-energize electrical equipment, and the requirement to create an electrical safe work condition for themselves and the safety officer performing an inspection.

If a safety officer identifies energized work being performed by the owner or the owner cannot demonstrate a safe working condition, the inspection may be stopped. Depending on the circumstances, the homeowner permit may be suspended or revoked, and the owner may have to hire a licenced electrical contractor to take out a permit to complete the work.

Refer to the terms and conditions on the electrical homeowner permit or go to our Electrical Assessments Page for additional information.

 
What are the hazards from exposed energized electrical systems or equipment?

The two primary electrical hazards associated with energized electrical equipment are shock and arc flash. Both hazards involve unwanted flow of electrical current and can cause serious injury and death.

Electrical shock is the unwanted flow of current through the human body and can cause death. Many people have been seriously injured or killed after receiving an electrical shock at 120 volts (normal household voltage). The amount of damage or injury is determined mainly by the amount of current (measured in amperes) that passes through the body. Electrical shock can often cause internal damage that may not be immediately apparent. Less than 50 milliamperes can be fatal. That is approximately the same electrical current required to power a single 6-watt light bulb.

Arc flash is an unwanted flow of current in an abnormal electrical arc between two energized conductors or an energized conductor and a conductive material. An arc flash incident is usually initiated because of human interaction with electrical equipment in a manner that can cause an arc, exposed energized electrical conductors or circuit parts, or a mechanical failure of insulation, isolation, or guarding.

An arc flash can release high thermal energy, which may create plasma and a spray of molten material. The thermal energy can cause external burns to exposed skin and cause clothing to ignite. A person may also receive internal burns if they inhale molten metal or hot gases during the incident. Other injuries that may occur include loss of sight, lacerations, hearing loss from arc blast noise energy and physical trauma from arc blast pressure that may be released during an abnormal arcing fault and arc flash occurring.

 
What is an electrically safe work condition?

Electrically safe work condition is a state in which an electrical conductor or circuit part has been disconnected from energized parts (breaker or switch in the disconnected “off” position or conductor physically disconnected), locked out in accordance with established standards, and tested to verify the absence of voltage, and if necessary, temporarily grounded for personnel protection.

 

How do I request an inspection when there is energized electrical equipment?

When an owner submits their inspection request and there is energized electrical equipment, there are two additional boxes that need to be selected as part of the declaration.

  • I declare that energized electrical systems are in normal operation, are in a normal equipment condition and all barriers (e.g. panel covers) are in place.

The first box indicates the owner has confirmed that energized electrical equipment is in normal operation, in normal equipment condition, and safe to operate. Equipment that is not in normal operation or normal equipment condition must be listed in the inspection request notes.

  • I understand the requirements for electrical equipment to be de-energized when an inspection is performed.

The second box indicates that the owner understands that electrical equipment must be de-energized and put into an electrically safe working condition when a safety officer performs an assessment inside electrical equipment.

These boxes are found in the online inspection requests and in section B of the Electrical Homeowner Inspection Request PDF.
 
What is an absence of voltage test for a branch circuit?

Turning off a breaker does not mean that the circuit being worked on is de-energized. This is because of the potential for mechanical failure or human error. It is recommended that the ‘absence of voltage test’ be used to verify a de-energized condition and ensure that the power has been turned off before performing work on an electrical system. When an ‘absence of voltage test’ is performed, the test instrument is verified on a known voltage source before and after the voltage test is performed on the de-energized circuit. This is sometimes referred to as a “live-dead-live test” or a “3 point test.”

 

Technical Safety BC encourages the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, insulated tools, multimeter with fused leads, CSA certified footwear, and arc rated equipment when testing circuits. The steps for conducting an ‘absence of voltage test’ include:

  1. Identifying the circuit breaker that will be de-energized and an outlet that is on the circuit.
  2. Verifying the testing instrument is working by testing voltage on a known, energized source such as an outlet that in not on the same circuit as the circuit being de-energized.
  3. Placing the identified breaker in the disconnected (Off) position and verify with the testing instrument at the outlet that there is no voltage, and the circuit is de-energized.
Re-testing the known, energized source for voltage with the testing instrument to ensure the instrument is functioning correctly.
 
When can an owner energize electrical equipment installed under a homeowner permit?

A homeowner must have written approval from a safety officer before energizing any circuits. This is usually a certificate of inspection after an inspection is performed by a safety officer. The homeowner is responsible for:

  1. Creating an electrically safe work condition.
  2. Ensuring that the work being inspected is complete.
  3. Requesting the correct inspection type for the safety officer to perform the inspection.

The safety officer may ask the homeowner to demonstrate the equipment is de-energized when they perform the inspection. Some of the requirements for more common inspection types are:

Rough-wiring inspection:

This inspection is required before any part of the electrical installation is covered or concealed. If only a portion of the installation was going to be covered at a certain time, a rough-wire partial may be requested. The homeowner must ensure the following for a rough-wire complete inspection:

  • All electrical wiring (including boxes, cables and raceways) is exposed for inspection. This includes underground raceways and cables unless covered under a partial inspection.
  • All branch circuit wiring is completed. All boxes, cables, raceways and fittings are properly installed and supported.
  • All splices are complete and conductors are properly terminated.
  • All bonding conductors are terminated to the appropriate lug or screw in outlet or junction boxes.
  • Devices such as receptacles, switches and light fixtures are not installed at this stage.
  • Branch circuit wiring has been entered into the panel using approved connectors.
  • Bonding and neutral conductors have been terminated to their respective busses within the panelboard.
  • Branch circuit wiring is not connected to circuit breakers.

Note: If entering branch circuits in an existing panel, the panel must be de-energized before removing the cover. Panel cover must be re-installed before re-energizing the existing panel.  You must have written approval from a safety officer before energizing any of the new circuits. To avoid the risk of electrical shock, branch circuit wiring should not be connected to a circuit breaker until the circuit has been completed and all devices and covers have been installed.

Service Inspection:

This inspection is required before an electrical service connection. The homeowner must ensure the following for a service inspection:

  • The installation of all electrical service equipment has been completed.
  • Work involving consumer’s service cables and/or raceways and fittings, meter base, main service box, and grounding and bonding systems are completed.
  • Branch circuit wiring has been entered into the panel, using approved connectors.
  • Bonding and neutral conductors have been terminated to their respective busses within the panelboard.
  • Branch circuit wiring is not connected to circuit breakers.
  • At least one circuit is completed with devices, covers, and circuit breaker installed. This is normally a circuit that provides power during construction and could simply be a single receptacle installed below the electrical panel. The safety officer may authorize this receptacle for connection after the inspection is passed.

Note: Once the panel has been energized by the supply utility, the panel cover should not be removed unless the panel has been de-energized. Under no situation should the barrier that covers the main breaker be removed unless the utility has disconnected the supply to the dwelling.

Final inspection: (all work complete)

For the final inspection, all electrical work must be completed. The homeowner must ensure the following for a final inspection:

  • Devices such as receptacles, switches, and light fixtures are installed.
  • All cover plates are installed.
  • Panel cover is installed, and the panel directory is completed and accurate.
  • The branch circuits are connected to the circuit breakers, with the circuit breakers left in the disconnected “off” position unless an electrical safety officer has previously provided written authorization allowing the circuits to be energized.
Note: The homeowner may obtain approval from the electrical safety officer prior to temporarily energizing circuits for testing purposes. The electrical safety officer will authorize the circuits to be permanently energized after the installation has passed the final inspection.
 

What if I do not feel confident about performing the electrical work?

If the job appears too large or if you feel unsure of your ability to do the work properly, contact a licensed electrical contractor.

It is important to make sure that the contractor you hire is licensed with Technical Safety BC to perform regulated electrical work. All regulated electrical work identified in the Safety Standards General Regulation and the Electrical Safety Regulation must be performed under a permit. Use Technical Safety BC’s contractor registry to find licensed electrical contractors in BC.