Understanding Safety Risks: Emerging Risks
Emerging risks are evaluated by Technical Safety BC through our Emerging Risk Tracker. In 2020, noteworthy emerging risks included potential safety risks associated with electric vehicle charging, sales of uncertified equipment, and work done by unlicensed individuals.
1. Electrical Vehicle Energy Management Systems (EVEMS)
As electric passenger vehicles become increasingly popular in British Columbia, there is concern over whether buildings that offer charging stations are properly equipped to handle a situation in which all charging stations are in use at the same time. In BC, many municipalities have set requirements for new buildings to be “electric vehicle ready.” However, with an EVEMS installed, they are not required to calculate electrical load based on 100% capacity. EVEMS technologies are designed to reduce demand on the electric grid by intelligently distributing power to multiple vehicles over the course of the day, rather than all at once.
Technical Safety BC is in the process of reviewing installation permits related to EVEMS and tracking non-compliance issues to help prevent risks to people or property caused by overloading charging stations. We have also initiated discussions with other electrical regulators in the province to ensure consistency in regulation application.
2. Uncertified equipment
Sales of equipment unapproved for use in Canada pose a significant risk to British Columbians’ safety, with online sales in particular failing regulation standards. British Columbians should only purchase electrical and gas equipment if they bear an approved certification mark to indicate they are safe for use.
In 2020, one fatality and one critical injury occurred in Ruby Lake, BC because of propane appliances that were not installed properly and not certified for use in Canada. Other reports included carbon monoxide alarms not certified for use in Canada, and electrical equipment not certified for use which have resulted in an electrical fire in at least one recent case (no fatalities or major injuries).
Technical Safety BC continues to push for greater awareness around certified products through campaigns and initiatives.
Read more about approved certification marks for electrical products.
3. Work by unlicensed individuals
Licensed contractors perform regulated work and make sure equipment is installed properly. While there are no numbers on how much regulated work is performed annually by unlicensed individuals, the danger this presents is significant.
In the summer of 2020, Technical Safety BC released investigation reports on two fatal carbon monoxide incidents at Ruby Lake and Tulameen. These investigations found that improperly installed gas equipment, including the aforementioned propane appliance in Ruby Lake, led to three fatalities and one critical injury. In the case of Tulameen, an on-demand propane tankless water heater had been installed in a hazardous manner inconsistent with Canadian code and certification standards.
These fatal incidents demonstrate the most extreme hazards associated with some do-it-yourself (DIY) work and the challenges with regulating activity in this space, but they are not the only examples.
Almost half of 2020’s electrical incidents occurred in detached homes, townhomes, and apartment buildings, indicating a need for greater public awareness of electrical safety at home and the importance of hiring a licensed contractor to perform regulated electrical and gas work.