ESA’s General Manager of Operations, Planning and Support, Will Barrett, breaks down the benefits of Risk-based Oversight (RBO) and how Licensed Electrical Contractors can streamline their inspection process.
The Electrical Safety Authority wants Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) to be able to spend less time with inspections and more time focusing on their business. That’s why it developed Risk-Based Oversight, or RBO, more than two years ago to streamline the inspection process for contractors.
Will Barrett, General Manager of Operations, Planning and Support, said the program is meant to reduce the burden for contractors by prioritizing and assessing each job’s risk.
“RBO allows ESA to shift our efforts to higher risk installations and safety activities, including compliance, enforcement, and to address the underground economy,” he said.
In this episode, Barrett sits down with host Karen Ras to help answer contractors’ questions about RBO. He’ll break down the basics of the RBO program, the benefits that contractors can take advantage of and what contractors can do to improve their defect ratio.
What is Risk-Based Oversight
Each job a licensed electrical contractor takes on bears a different risk. Risk-based Oversight assesses the risk of each work notification to determine how much oversight is needed.
That means the riskier the job, the more likely an inspector will need to visit the work site.
“Safety risk means the likelihood an event will occur, and if it does, how much harm will it cause?” Barrett explained.
Each wiring notification submitted to the ESA is rated by the risk assessment system, which takes in many factors to determine whether the job is low, medium, or high risk. Every job is evaluated based on who is doing the work, what the work is, and where it’s being done.
That risk rating then determines an inspector visit ratio. For low risk, inspectors will come to one of every five work notifications. For medium risk, LECs can expect an inspection every other notification. And, for the ones rated high risk, an inspection will be required for each job.
“It reduces the burden on contractor time and workflow by making it easier to comply with electrical safety regulations,” Barrett said.
But, just because a job is rated at a low risk, doesn’t mean that LECs are unable to request an inspection. LECs are able to request a site visit, regardless of the risk rating. If it’s something your client wants, the ESA encourages reaching out to the Customer Service Centre.
“Often homeowners ask contractors this question all the time: ‘I've paid for notification fees, will I see an inspector?’,” he said. “Or, maybe, they have a bit of anxiety about the job and they want the inspector to come and make a physical visit.”
Contractors should also keep in mind that an inspector can choose to make a visit at any time, regardless of site visit recommendations.
Improving your defect ratio
An LEC’s defect ratio is just one component that goes into evaluating a job’s risk. It’s not a reflection of how good a contractor is, but rather shows how code compliant they’ve been based on their notification volume in the course of a year.
“Higher defect ratio could increase the likelihood that electrical work is deemed medium or high risk, and ESA could visit you more often.”
Defect ratios are determined by dividing the number of sites with reported work defects by the total number of work notifications. The lower your ratio is, the less time you have to accommodate for inspections.
“A low defect ratio means that ESA could visit you less often, so contractors can spend more time running their businesses and less time waiting for ESA to visit their site on low risk installations,” Barrett said.
In addition to more time for your work, a low defect ratio also comes with added benefits – including eligibility for selective inspection and pre-authorized service connections. If LECs want to take advantage of these services, they need to review the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
“The best way to improve the defect ratio is by ensuring you do code compliant work,” he said.
Communicating with inspectors
The ESA has also developed a new tool to ensure you can communicate with inspectors effectively. The inspector mapping tool was introduced in 2021 to help keep contractors up to date on scheduling changes and arrival times.
“The inspector mapping tool enables ESA inspectors to plan their day and allows for easier management of emergencies or changes in schedule to help ensure electrical inspections take place in a timely fashion,” he said.
LECs should make sure they are communicating schedule requests, site details and health and safety risks as promptly as possible. The more detailed, the more efficient the visit will be.
“Providing ESA with scheduling requests in advance helps the inspector evaluate the work and in turn provide advanced notice to the contractor.”
More information on Risk-Based Oversight is available on the website. Listen to the full episode to hear even more of Barrett's tips for streamlining inspections.
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