Electrical contractors must ensure their field safety representatives (FSRs) request inspections at least once in every 180 day period, for each installation permit issued to the contractor. If no inspection is requested within the 180 day period, the permit status changes to “expired”.
It is the responsibility of each permit holder to monitor their own permits. Even though BC Safety Authority (BCSA) provides reminders to permit holders, notifying them when their permits are about to expire, contractors should not rely on this as their sole method for tracking whether their FSRs are carrying out their responsibilities to request inspections.
Historically, many electrical contractors have allowed their permits to expire. When permits expire, BCSA safety officers need to follow up with the permit holders to remind them about their duty to have their FSRs perform safety checks at these sites, and submit inspection requests. If the contractor does not respond to these requests, safety officers must follow up with progressive enforcement actions. Reminders, follow up actions, and progressive enforcement actions use up valuable safety officer resources, which could be applied to higher value activities such as site inspections, identification of electrical hazards, and identification of unqualified workers and unpermitted electrical work.
An average of approximately 6,000 electrical installation permits, issued to electrical contractors, are allowed to expire annually. This represents a substantial commitment of safety officer resources, which is not covered under permit fees. Historically, contractors who regularly maintain their permits in good standing have shared the burden of those contractors who do not regularly monitor the status of their permits, through permit fees and decreased access to safety officers who are busy following up on expired permits. To address this inequity, BCSA plans to make some changes in 2015.
In 2015, BCSA plans to begin charging hourly fees for all activities related to permits that have been allowed to expire. This will include charging hourly fees for all follow up actions, including phone calls, letters, and inspections for expired permits. These fees can be easily avoided as long as contractors ensure their FSRs make regular inspection requests to avoid expiry of permits.
Contractors are also able to re-activate their expired permits by having them amended along with a request for inspection, and return them to active status. Permit holders may obtain a list of their expired permits or re-activate their permits online using ‘My Connection’ or by contacting BCSA’s Contact Centre at 1-866-566-7233, or www.safetyauthority.ca/contact.
It is recommended that all electrical contractors conduct a review of permits issued to them, prior to 2015, and ensure their permits are not expired. Contractors should ensure that they have a process implemented prior to 2015, which ensures that all permits are regularly monitored for their status and that inspection requests are submitted within each 180 day period.