A field evaluation for electrical safety can save your business
And save you a ton of money in lost sales.
In a perfect world, a business would have all their equipment pre-certified for safety compliance before delivery, allowing them to begin operations right away. However, it isn't always that simple. For companies that use equipment not listed by a Nationally Recognized Test Lab (NRTL), separate accommodations are necessary. The same goes for any manufacturer that creates or uses unique equipment or relocates that equipment to a new facility. These businesses have to take an extra step to ensure compliance.
Fortunately, that extra step doesn't have to be a big one. Nationally Recognized Testing Labs like TÜV SÜD make it a top priority to perform field evaluations for exactly this purpose - to allow companies with atypical devices to stay online, energized and productive. If you think your company might be due for field evaluation, ask yourself a few questions. If you're a North American company that answers 'yes' to any of the following, it would be wise to contact TÜV SÜD's dedicated inspections team.
1. Have any of your devices been red-flagged by an electrical inspector?
An electrical inspector may red-flag a piece of equipment that is installed in a business, preventing that business from obtaining its Occupancy License which is required to become operational. Obviously, a red flag during inspection can be the result of various issues with the device but in most cases equipment is tagged by an electrical inspector simply because it does not display a necessary safety certification mark from an OSHA recognized NRTL. In many cases equipment may have been purchased from an overseas manufacturer and was not properly evaluated for electrical safety before installation. A field label from an NRTL can provide acceptance on an item-by-item basis and get your business back on-line quickly.
2. Did you purchase or manufacturer custom, one-of-a-kind equipment?
Often, unique equipment has not been evaluated for electrical safety by an NRTL. The design and functionality may promote a safe atmosphere for the user, but electrical inspectors can’t rely on the intentions of the design. This is another great example of the need for a field evaluation by an NRTL where a single device is reviewed at its installation and when found compliant labeled on the spot. The entire process may take one day or less for a single piece of equipment. Electrical inspectors are familiar with the various NRTLs approved under OSHA guidelines therefore seeing a field evaluation sticker from an organization such as TÜV SÜD is accepted as evidence of compliance to the National Electrical Code (NEC). Even if the equipment is not necessarily custom-made, but is just created on a non-repetitive basis or sold in limited quantities, a particular installation may still require a field evaluation.
3. Have you modified or relocated previously approved equipment?
Whenever you alter equipment in some way, it should be re-inspected, even if that modification simply came in the form of moving it to a new facility. New conditions, new components, new evaluation. It's important to stay on top of these situations, especially in the case of relocating equipment – a new city, county or state may also have different regulations or standards to comply with. Local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may have unique requirements beyond the national electrical code. A field inspection from a NRTL will be able to get your equipment back in the good graces of regulatory authorities, both local and national.
4. Do you use or manufacture equipment as a complete system or as a subassembly?
In other words, is the equipment in question made up of multiple independent parts? Or is it one single part that will be used in a more complex arrangement? The idea here is to ensure that whatever is manufactured falls in-line with the electrical standards in place, both as a single component and as a system of different items. Just because one works by itself doesn't mean it can operate safely when attached to other machinery or subassemblies.
5. Is any of your equipment installed and ready to go, but pending approval from the regulatory authorities?
In that case, NRTLs may be able to help. TÜV SÜD can affix an individualized field evaluation label which ensures and hastens acceptance of the equipment by the local electrical inspector. While many NRTLs exist and can offer assistance, it is important to be clear about the timeline for the evaluation. If the NRTL you contact can’t get someone to your location quickly, lost business may be the result of that delay. It is worth the effort to contact more than one provider so that you get the best service possible.
Manufacturers use much of the same equipment and create similar products in some instances, but no two are completely the same. Many use assemblies that may fall into multiple electrical safety test standards for the US or Canadian markets. Reaching out to more than one electrical safety compliance provider with a presence in the US and Canada as well as proper recognition by both OSHA and the Standards Council of Canada is a worthwhile effort. Time is money, so don’t take a chance with a non-qualified vendor – reach out to an NRTL that is clearly recognized by OSHA as evidenced by the list of NRTLs on the OSHA website.