Energy Storage

Ep006 - Electrical Safety Code Changes

Nansy Hanna: What really stands out for me this time around is that the Code, although it's a technical document, it's not disconnected from the environment and what's happening around us. It really reflects the changes that we are seeing.

Josie Erzetic: We will all see a new Ontario Electrical Safety Code published in May of this year with updates to address current technology advancements and climate change. In this episode, we'll highlight key Code changes you need to watch out for.

Grounded in Ontario is a podcast for you, the province's licensed electrical contractors, master and certified electricians, safety tips, tech, and best practices. Now let's get grounded.

Hello and welcome to another episode of Grounded in Ontario. I'm Josie Erzetic and I work for the Electrical Safety Authority. Today we have a special episode for you dedicated 100% to changes in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code that are coming your way May 5th. With me today is Nansy Hanna, who's going to talk us through those new Code changes. Nansy, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Nansy: I'm great. Thank you, Josie.

Josie: I'm just so delighted to have Nansy with us today. She just brings so much experience to this topic. Nansy, why don't you tell our listeners a bit about yourself?

Nansy: I have a background in consulting engineers and I've been in the industry for more than 20 years now. I'm the senior director for Engineering & Regulations and I do get involved with the Code development and the processes for Code development at the national level and at the provincial level as well.

Josie: How many years have you been doing this type of Code work, Nansy? How many Code cycles have you been involved in?

Nansy: This is actually my fifth Code cycle. I've been doing that for the last 10 to 12 years. So I've been through a number of them and each one is being a different perspective and it's really excited to be involved with these Code cycles.

Josie: Amazing. So before we get into the details of the latest Code changes, can you take us through a little bit of the history of the Code? Not a lot of people know about that and just maybe talk to us a bit about why we have it and how do we get to where we are today?

Nansy: So not a lot of people know that the first edition of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code is actually older than the Canadian one. So the Code was first developed in Ontario in 1913, and then it became a national standard in 1927. As to why it was developed, it's because safety is paramount. The people who use electricity, they flip a switch and the light turns on and they take it for granted that it's safe, but the people who are doing the installation knew the LECs and us who are involved with inspection and Code development, we do not take it for granted and we work very diligently to make sure that at the end of the day, all installations are safe. And that's why Ontario Electrical Code is a law in Ontario and everyone doing an installation is required to follow it.

Josie: On that note, I know there are quite a few changes in the Code this year, but maybe just at a high level to start with, you can take us through some of the more significant changes.

Nansy: There are a lot of changes that are coming. Most of them are clarification and giving you more clear requirements of what you're expected to follow. The top themes of the major changes are related to energy storage systems from buildings housing livestock and making sure that you are staying safe in home and outside near power line. So there are some changes related to power line safety and worker safety.

Josie: Yeah, all very, very important areas. And some of those areas in fact, we've highlighted in previous podcasts, the energy storage systems being one example. So maybe we'll take each of those areas in turn Nansy, and if you can talk to us first about changes that impact areas outside of the home.

Nansy: So for the changes that's coming related to outside environment, there is a new rule requiring all outdoor receptacles located within 2.5 meters to be protected by GFCI, which is ground fault circuit interrupters. So this is a significant change because currently it's only acquired a residential type of occupancies, but now this requirement will be acquired for all buildings. So that will include outdoor recreational parks, it will include commercial buildings and in addition to that, the exception for vehicle heaters has been removed. So now this receptacle will also be acquired to be protected by GFCI.

Josie: And how does all of that impact workers safety, Nansy?

Nansy: So the main function of a GFCI is to prevent from a shock hazard from faulty equipment that get plugged in, especially in a wet or an outdoor environment. So with this new requirement, if someone is twinkling lights for holidays, if you are plugging in inflatables, if you are using tools outside, this new requirement will ensure safety for the worker and the people interacting with these installations.

Josie: Okay. And also when I'm thinking about outside environments, I know you mentioned farm buildings earlier, so it does make me think of agricultural settings, farm settings. Can you tell us a bit about the changes in the new Code in relation to those settings?

Nansy: These upcoming changes would be very important for farm buildings housing livestock. When there is a bonfire, it's always a tragic event for farmers and the loss of livestock. So it's really a good change in the Code that's coming for this industry. So there is a new series of faults, 20C2800 that would apply for farm building housing livestock. So the main reason for that change is to ensure that when you are designing a farm building, you are designing for a wet and corrosive environment.

So this change would say that all building housing livestock are to be category one and a category two, which is wet and corrosive so all the electric equipment needs to be suitable for this harsh environment. The important thing to point out is that the Code is not retroactive. So these changes will raise awareness and enhance safety installations in new installations and in renovations. One of the things that I've been hearing when we did that change is when we looked at the statistics, we learned that there were 80 reported files each year that involve building housing livestock. So it's really important to look at the reasons for these files and to ensure that the electrical devices that's used in the environment are able to withstand this harsh corrosive environment.

Josie: So if I'm understanding you correctly, previous restrictions within the Code did not take into account those harsh and wet and corrosive environment. So what you've done is made those more restrictive and as a result, basically able to save lives and also able to save lives of livestock that could be lost in fires.

Nansy: There are some requirements now, but they are not as clear and they are not as definitive that any building housing livestock is considered a category one and a category two. So it's wet and corrosive. So this requirement will be more emphasized.

Josie: Okay. So in that regard, I'm thinking about residential dwellings as well, Nansy. Can we just turn to that? Inside the home, are there any changes in the new Code that specifically relate now to residential buildings?

Nansy: The main change... It is not really a change, it's actually maintaining what we had about reduced conductor size for services and feeders. What happened is that the Canadian Electrical Code at the national level, that moved this relaxation on reduced conductor size of services and feeders, but what we didn't Ontario is we modified it a bit, but maintained it because based on historical data and historical practice, there was no evidence of a safety hazard. So this is a good thing for businesses and contractors in Ontario that this requirement is maintained for homes.

Josie: Okay. So if I'm understanding you correctly Nansy, you're saying that in Ontario, you're allowing for smaller conductor sizes as well as the larger conductor sizes?

Nansy: Correct.

Josie: Got it. Okay. So maybe if I can shift gears just a little bit Nansy, wanted to talk about power line safety. That's obviously something that we're very concerned about at the ESA. We do see power line contacts. Can you tell us about what changes have been implemented in this new Code relating to power line safety?

Nansy: There is one very important change and that it deals with existing power lines. So there was a requirement in the Code if you put new power lines, you have to maintain a certain clearance from structures and buildings but the opposite if those existing power lines, there was no requirement to stop someone from putting a structure underneath them.

Unfortunately, we've seen two fatalities in Ontario. One in 2013 were five members of a crew were setting an outdoor event tent and while they were doing that, they came so close to the power line and one of the tent poles touched the line and there was one victim who succumbed to the injuries. And another fertility that happened in 2019 where a young worker, 19-year old worker was tasked to replace flags and these flags were very close to power lines. So while he was replacing them again, he came in contact with one of the primary lines and resulted in a fatality. So it was very sad incidents, but it realized that there was a gap that there is no rules to stop putting structures underneath power lines. So this change will prohibit that and will raise awareness about these issues.

Josie: Yeah. And that's something that we've talked about on the show previously, the need to maintain clearances from power lines. So now what you've done is in the Code itself, ensured that it's very clear how far these types of structures need to be from a power line. Do I have that right?

Nansy: Correct.

Josie: Okay. That's great. Any other changes that you'd like to talk to us about Nansy, in relation to worker safety?

Nansy: So there is one change related to worker safety for eHouses. And eHouses are manufactured structures, they could be temporary or permanent, that house electrical equipment in one place. So for these eHouses that contain transfer equipment, they are required to have one receptacle supplied from an alternate power supply. So this will ensure that there's worker that when I plug in tools, there is a receptacle available for them. There was an incident where young apprentice defeated the transfer equipment to be able to get power for his stewards and that was a unfortunate fatality. So now there's a requirement to have this one receptacle connected to alternate supplies for eHouses that contain transfer equipment.

Josie: Very important, new safety addition. One of the things that intrigues me about this new Code is that some of the sections specifically address climate change. Can you talk to us a little bit about what those sections are and how specifically they deal with aspects of the environment that are now changing?

Nansy: You're right, Josie. Everyone have been noticing the impact of climate change, and there was a taskforce set up under CSA to look at that and to view all standards and out of the work for the taskforce, there was several changes. One of them is adding definitions into the Canadian Electrical Code for flood hazard zone and flood elevation and there was new rules based on that.

Very important that if you have installation in a flood hazard zone, that if it's below the flood elevation, that it'd be protected by ground fault circuit interrupters and the other important change is if you have a sump pump, you want to make sure that the receptacle for the sump pump is above the flood elevation. So the sump pump could continue working and if someone needs to plug it in, they have access to the receptacle that feed the sump pump. So these are changes that are listed in level 26-52 and 26-712 and these are on our website.

Josie: Yeah, good point, Nansy, it's all on our website. If people just go to, so you can get any of the Code rules Nansy is referencing throughout the podcast. So I know another thing you mentioned earlier on Nansy was energy storage systems. We actually devoted an entire podcast to talking about those. If you could please give our listeners some information about the new Code sections that deal with those systems.

Nansy: Yes, Josie. As you mentioned, in the other podcast, we're seeing an increased number of installations for energy storage systems. The previous Code version had some basic requirements, but in the 2021 version, there is a subsection devoted all to energy storage systems. There is new requirement regarding marketing requirement, disconnecting means, where ESS could be located and how much it needs to be separated from structures and so on. We actually were meeting this morning with some stakeholders that have some questions on the new requirements and we are working on a bulletin with our stakeholders to ensure that the questions are answered, safety is maintained, but at the same time this new technology is being installed in a safe manner.

Josie: Excellent. And I'm particularly intrigued by the meetings with stakeholders. Can you talk to us a little bit about how ESA does collaborate with stakeholders as you're considering amendments to the Code or as you're creating bulletins?

Nansy: The whole process for development of the Code have stakeholders front and center. So at the national level, there are committees with different sectors of the stakeholder represented there, at the provincial level we have the Ontario Provincial Code Committee where we work with them through Ontario amendments. And any Ontario amendment we put forward goes for public consultation for 45 days and we go through any comments we get and make sure that they are addressed.

One of the exciting changes that we worked with was the farm building housing livestocks and we worked with our stakeholders at [inaudible 00:16:43]. We worked with the agricultural association, and that was a very good example of how we all had the same goal of improving the safety level of installation in these buildings and it was a very collaborative approach to how the changes were made into the Code.

Josie: Really, really good example, Nansy. So if people listening or anyone in the LEC communities in any of our licensed communities have any feedback or questions about the Code, what's the best way for them to get in touch with us?

Nansy: We welcome all questions and feedback. The best way to connect with us is to contact us on For technical questions you can always submit a question or send us a comment and we go through all of these.

Josie: Excellent. I know a question likely on the minds of a lot of our listeners is what if they have already taken out a notification or have made a plan submission prior to the date of the new Code? So what Code rules are applicable to those applications? Are they the new Code rules or will they be the existing Code rules?

Nansy: So if you submitted a notification or a plan review prior to May 5th, you comply with this current version of the Code. You do not need to comply with the 2021 edition. If you have a plan review submission prior to May 5th, but have the notification after that, you still comply with the current Code edition and not the new one, because you had your plan view submitted before May 5th. It is worth noting though that if a contractor elects to comply with the new edition, although his notification or plan of review was submitted before May 5th, they do need to comply with the complete Code, they cannot pick and choose sections of the Code to comply with.

Josie: What happens if I'm an LEC and my notification or my plan review submission has expired?

Nansy: So if a notification or a plan review expires, you have to reapply and then based on the date you're reapplying, the new your Code would apply to you. A notification expires for residential notification, it expires within 12 months. If you do not have any rough in inspection or any inspection done on this notification for 12 months, it will expire and then you have to reapply and at that time, if it's after May 5th, the new Code would apply to you for plan review though, they do not expire as long as your submittal was reviewed based on the current version or the last edition of the Code with no major changes. If you're making major changes to your plans, it's considered like a new submission and then you have to comply with the new requirements.

Josie: All right. And if anyone is confused about any of this, they can certainly find all of this information on our website, correct?

Nansy: Correct. We actually have an FAQ document that's very well lays all these requirements. So go to this FAQ document about the new Code edition.

Josie: Nansy, now I know earlier you mentioned that you have been through at least five Code cycles with ESA. Now, compared to previous years, how extensive are the changes this time round?

Nansy: So the amount of changes and the impact are really comparable with last cycles and from one cycle to the other. What really stands out for me this time around is that the Code although it's a technical document, it's not disconnected from the environment and what's happening around us. It really reflects the changes that we are seeing. So for example, we talked about climate change, so we're seeing that reflected in the Code. We've seen a push towards green energy and renewable. So a couple of cycles ago, there was a section dedicated for renewable energy. Now we are realizing the importance of energy storage to support to renewable energy. So now you see this new requirement for energy storage systems. So this really stands out to me that the Code is not disconnected from what's happening around us.

Josie: For people that are keen to get their copy of the Code, where can they get it?

Nansy: Okay. So for another year we are partnering with CSA again, so you can get your Code copy through the CSA shop. It is accessible in print, like a hard copy. You could have it as a PDF, or you could have it as a e-reader book, which is really my favorite because it's searchable and you can search the bulletins with the Code. You can search a specific section or a specific Code, and it's accessible on your smart phone or your computer. But anyhow, you can get whatever version of the Code that you prefer. You can go to our website and there is where to put to use the Code, you can go to you can call the 800 numbers. And again, all this information is on our website.

Josie: Right. And the 1-800 number just so people can hear it here is 1-800 463 6727, and that's how you order a copy. That would be through CSA, correct, Nansy?

Nansy: Correct.

Josie: For those people who aren't going to instantly zip through all the hundreds of pages of the Code to find all of these changes, is there a summary of any kind that's anywhere that's easily accessible for our listeners?

Nansy: Yes. We have information on and there are several articles that were published in plugged in that goes through the main changes and explains them in more details.

Josie: That's perfect, Nansy. And what about opportunities for training? Can LECs find training anywhere that will take them through these changes as well as other parts of the Code?

Nansy: Yes. LECs and MEs, and anyone who rely on the Code should be attending training sessions to formalize themselves with the new requirements. There are a number of companies that offer training on the Code. ESA is also offering a variety of training. So beginning in April, we're going to be offering in person, virtual instructor led and self-directed e-learning type of courses. I think the window for registration will be opening in mid-February and you can go to our website to find how to register.

Josie: Nansy, we really appreciate all of this information that you've given us about changes to the Code, new parts of the Code. Thank you so much for that. And meanwhile, for our listeners, we encourage you to please familiarize yourself with the new parts of the Code. You can do that by ordering a copy of the new Code, you can review the summaries that exist on our website, and you can also attend a training session provided by ESA or provided by other providers in the marketplace.

So just a reminder also, please check out our previous podcast. You can find those on our website at Thanks for listening. I'm Josie Erzetic.

If you have any questions on this topic or any other electrical safety topic, we want to hear from you. Email us at We plan to answer some frequently asked questions in future episodes. Make sure you subscribe to this podcast so that you'll get notified whenever we have new episodes. So until next time be safe, work safe and stay grounded.