Customer Service
1.877.ESA.SAFE / 1.877.372.7233

Frequently Asked Questions

 Select a category below to view the most frequently asked questions on that topic.

 

 


 

Permits and Inspections 

What is a permit and how do I get one?

Most electrical work requires a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority.  An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) needs to be taken out before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts.

Permits must be taken out by the party who is doing the work. If you’re doing the electrical work, you need to take out the permit. If you hire, it’s the law in Ontario that they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor and they must take out the permit (see more in What You Need to Know - Take out a Permit). Do not take out a permit on behalf of a contractor or anyone else.

Electrical permits are not the same as a building permit. If you have a building permit, it doesn’t mean you have an electrical permit. The fee for an electrical permit varies according to the type of work being done. To confirm permit requirements and to get your permit, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).

There are two ways to apply for a permit:

  1. Go to the Inspection Forms page and download the applicable form. Send the completed form along with payment to the Customer Service Centre by email esa.Cambridge@electricalsafety.on.ca, fax 800-667-4278 or post/courier to: 400 Sheldon Dr, Unit 1, Cambridge, ON N1T 2H9.
  2. Contact our Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) to speak with a Customer Service Representative.

Residential applications are valid for 12 months. The application expires if no inspections have been performed during the first year. The inspection fees will be credited back less a refund processing fee. When resubmitted, full inspection fees will apply to the new application.

 

When is an inspection required?

The Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA’s) inspection/review process varies depending on the project. Before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts, make sure the required permit is taken out (most electrical work requires a permit from ESA). An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) creates a permanent record of the work that has been done in your home and it triggers the review process by ESA. An ESA Inspector will review the permit and the electrical work being done to confirm the inspection requirements.  

 

When do I book my inspection and how many inspections will I need?

Your first priority will be getting a “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection), which should be done before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts. ESA’s inspection/review process varies depending on the project. If electrical work is complicated, for example, ESA’s Inspectors may need to review at multiple stages. Learn more about the different types of inspections.

To book your inspection date, call the Customer Service Centre directly at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).

 

How do I request an inspection?

To schedule an inspection for an existing permit, complete the Request for Inspection form and send it to the Customer Service Centre by email esa.Cambridge@electricalsafety.on.ca, fax 800-667-4278 or mail to 400 Sheldon Dr, Unit 1, Cambridge, ON N1T 2H9. However, to avoid waiting for a call back to book your inspection date, you can call the Customer Service Centre directly at 1-877-ESA-SAFE.

 

I'm a homeowner, what type of inspection do I need?

  • New Residential – involves the installation of a wiring system in a building or structure that did not previously have a wiring system.
  • Renovation Residential – any change to the original wiring including repair and replacement of the devices; however, if you are the property owner residing in your owner-occupied single family dwelling can legally complete electrical work in the dwelling  and are replacing certain light fixtures and switches, a permit may not be required. Contact the Customer Service Centre if you’re not sure if this applies to your project.

Note: A Residential Unit is a residential premise with or without a basement. This category includes detached, semi-detached, row housing, duplexes, triplexes, quadruplexes, farm houses, modular or prefabricated.

 

What are the different types of Residential Inspections?

  • Trench – An inspection of underground wiring.
  • Service/connection – An inspection of wiring to meter, inspection of main disconnect means (e.g. fuses or breakers) and inspection of grounding to service. See more in What is a service inspection?
  • Rough-in – Takes place when all branch circuit wiring and outlet boxes are installed and prior to any wiring being concealed by insulation, vapour barrier, drywall, etc. See more in What is a rough-in inspection?
  • Final – The final inspection shall be requested as soon as possible after completion of the electrical installation. See more in What is a final inspection?

 

What is a rough-in inspection?

A rough-in inspection takes place when all branch circuit wiring and outlet boxes are installed and prior to any wiring being concealed by insulation, vapour barrier, drywall, etc. As a minimum for the rough-in inspection the following shall be completed:

  • All cables shall be installed, strapped and supported as required.
  • All required outlet boxes shall be installed and securely fastened.
  •  All cables shall have their outer jacket removed and be terminated in outlet boxes where an outlet box will be required for the wiring device, luminaire, or equipment.
  •  All bonding connections shall be completed at all outlet boxes including provision of a bonding conductor for final connection where required to a wiring device, luminaire, or equipment.
  •  Any joints or splices in the wiring at outlet boxes shall be completed.
  •  Protection plates against nails/screws to be installed where required.
  •  No wiring shall be concealed by installation of insulation or floor, wall, and ceiling materials until authorized by an inspector.

Usually for new installations the service inspection and the rough-in inspection are completed at the same time, or additional inspection fees may be applied.

 

What is a service inspection and when does it take place?

A service inspection may be done after all customer owned service equipment and related wiring is installed and ready for inspection. Upon successful completion of the inspection, a connection authorization will be issued by ESA to the supply authority (electric utility).

Depending on the installation the service inspection may include any or all of the following: meter base, panel board, ground electrode, trenching, underground conductors, pole(s), overhead conductors, etc. At least one outlet and associated wiring shall also be completed prior to the inspection. To determine what will be supplied and installed by the supply authority and what will be required from the customer it is necessary that a service layout be completed prior to installing any electrical service equipment. A service layout is obtained by contacting the supply authority. Upon successful completion of the service inspection, ESA will issue a connection authorization to the supply authority permitting energization of the customer service. No part of the installation shall be concealed prior to inspection (e.g. backfilling of trench or overtop of ground electrodes, etc). For new installations, the service inspection and rough-in inspection are completed at the same time, or additional inspection fees may be applied.

Note: where a connection authorization has been issued by ESA to the supply authority, it is valid for the connection of a service for a period of up to six months from the date of issue.

 

What is a final inspection and when does it take place?

A final inspection is done after the electrical installation is complete. This means that all receptacles, switches, cover plates, lighting fixtures and permanently connected appliances are in place and the panel directory has been completed. All unused openings in panel boards or junction and outlet boxes shall be filled with suitable fillers.

Where an appliance that is to be permanently connected is not yet on site, the cable shall be terminated in a junction box complete with a blank cover and the ends of the conductors shall be insulated with wire connectors or tape. Where permanent light fixtures are not yet on site, install temporary light fixtures or a blank cover on lighting outlet boxes.

Request the final inspection as soon as possible after completion of the electrical installation.

Once the inspection is complete, whoever took out the permit receives an ESA Certificate of Inspection to confirm the electrical work is in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. If your contractor took out the permit, request a copy of the certificate for your records. You can also call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) for a copy.

 

How do I apply for an inspection and what application form(s) do I need?

An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) needs to be taken out before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts. Whoever is doing the electrical work must apply for the permit. You cannot apply for a permit on behalf of your contractor. The permit holder should contact ESA to arrange a date for inspection or send in the completed the Request for Inspection form.

There are two ways to arrange for an inspection:

  1. Go to the Inspection Forms page and download the applicable form. Send the completed form along with payment to the Customer Service Centre by email esa.Cambridge@electricalsafety.on.ca, fax 800-667-4278 or mail/courier to 400 Sheldon Dr, Unit 1, Cambridge, ON N1T 2H9.
  2. Call the Customer Service Centre directly at 1-877-ESA-SAFE.

Electrical inspections are performed during normal working hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays).

  • Request for Inspection – to schedule an inspection for an existing permit, complete the Request for Information form and send it to the Customer Service Centre by email esa.Cambridge@electricalsafety.on.ca, fax 800-667-4278 or mail to 400 Sheldon Dr, Unit 1, Cambridge, ON N1T 2H9. However, to avoid waiting for a call back to book your inspection date, you can call the Customer Service Centre directly at 1-877-ESA-SAFE.
  • New Residential – involves the installation of a wiring system in a building or structure that did not previously have a wiring system.
  • Renovation Residential – any change to the original wiring including repair and replacement of the devices; however, if you are the property owner residing in your owner-occupied single family dwelling can legally complete electrical work in the dwelling  and are replacing certain light fixtures and switches, a permit may not be required. Contact the Customer Service Centre if you’re not sure if this applies to your project.

If you still have questions about what type of inspection application form is needed, contact the Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).

 

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Fees

What is the cost for an ESA inspection?

Inspection fees vary depending on the type of work done. The minimum fee for an Application for Inspection of any wiring installation is $79. For a detailed breakdown please refer to the Electrical Inspection Fee Guide or more specifically, the Residential Reference Guide on the ESA Fees page.

ESA fees are due and payable when an Application for Inspection (also referred to as a permit) is submitted.

If you still have questions about fees, contact the Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).

 

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Doing electrical work

Who can do electrical work at my property?

Electrical work can be done in a home by the homeowner, occupant or LEC.

Homeowners and occupants* of a home in Ontario can do their own electrical work. However, that comes with responsibilities and risks.  If you choose to do the work yourself, ensure it is done according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. This includes taking out all required permits.  

*An occupant is: 1) someone living in a residence or using premises, as a tenant or owner. 2) a person who takes possession of property which has no known owner, intending to gain ownership.

Electrical work is complicated and mistakes can be serious. ESA highly recommends you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Licensed Electrical Contractors are trained in and understand the safety requirements associated with electrical installations.

If you are hiring someone to do electrical work in your home, by law in Ontario they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor (*see exceptions below). General handymen and other service providers cannot do electrical work in residences unless they hold an electrical contractor’s licence. If you hire a general contractor, confirm that the electrical work will be done by a licensed subcontractor. A Licensed Electrical Contractor is required to display their ECRA/ESA licence number. Ask to see it. You can find an LEC or confirm that your contractor holds a valid licence by visiting esasafe.com.

*The exceptions are: maintenance, service and repair work on equipment when done by an employer or agent of the manufacturer of that equipment; work done on a farm by an owner, operator or employee;  work on refrigeration and air conditioning units by qualified Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic; work done on elevators and escalators by a person authorized by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority; work done on electrical equipment that plugs into an electrical source if the work being done is maintenance, service or repair of the equipment that does not include extending or altering the equipment or installing, extending, altering or repairing any electrical wiring connected to the equipment.

 

 

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Hiring an Electrician or Contractor

What is a Licensed Electrical Contractor and why should I hire one?

Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) are the only businesses in Ontario legally authorized to do electrical work in your home or facility.

Always ask for an ECRA/ESA licence number to make sure you’re choosing the right electrical contractor. And if you’re using a general contractor or other trade professional who subcontracts the electrical, the work always needs to be completed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Ask your general contractor, check the status of the person working in your home or find a Licensed Electrical Contractor here.

All Licensed Electrical Contractors:

  • are fully insured
  • are required to obtain permits
  • are qualified to perform electrical work according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code
  • can offer a Certificate of Inspection if required
  • should be able to provide references

 

Where can I find a Licensed Electrical Contractor?

ESA has a convenient search tool to help find one in your area.

 

How does ESA know if someone is doing electrical work without a licence?

ESA finds out about work being done outside the system in a few ways:

  • Anyone can contact ESA’s Customer Service Centre (and they can do so confidentially) if they suspect electrical work being done without a licence. ESA looks into every such complaint/report we receive. 
  • ESA works with a team of Investigators and staff dedicated to addressing the underground economy. Efforts also include a review and analysis of online classifieds sites such as Kijiji to identify unlicensed contractors advertising for electrical work.
  • ESA receives complaints from sources such as customers, contractors, inspectors and other ESA staff.

Electrical safety is a partnership and it’s up to all of us to help identify those working outside the system, to help keep Ontario safe from electrical harm.

 

If I see someone doing electrical work and I’m not sure they have a licence, how can I find out if they are licensed?

There are several ways to verify if a contractor is licensed:

  1. Check ESA’s contractor look-up tool
  2. Call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) and choose option 3 for Contractor Licensing
  3. Check the correspondence from the contractor, such as a quote/estimate or business card.  If they are licensed, you should be able to find their licence number on any and all of their correspondence and even their vehicle.  For example, the number would look like this: ECRA/ESA 7999999.
  4. Visit Identifying an Unlicensed Electrical Contractor to learn more.

 

How can I file a complaint against a licensed or unlicensed contractor?

Please refer to the complaints process.

 

Do you have a database for contractors that have been found working without a permit?

Yes. We have an extensive database that we review on a regular basis. ESA tracks warnings and notices issued to maintain a history on contractors. We refer to this database when we have any upcoming investigations and/or prosecutions for additional information.

View convictions of unlicensed contractors and Licensed Electrical Contractors

 

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Electrical Safety Concerns/Reporting an Electrical Incident

How do I report suspected product safety concerns?

Anyone who discovers an unapproved electrical product or a product suspected of being unsafe should return it and inform the retailer of the potential risk associated with the product. Consumers can also alert ESA at 1-877-ESA-SAFE or through the ESA website if they discover unapproved or suspect unsafe electrical products for sale.

Online Reporting Form

 

What types of product safety issues have ESA dealt with?

ESA has responded to various types of product safety issues, including:

  • the way in which some compact florescent lights were failing
  • unapproved generators
  • unsafe household extension cords
  • unsafe heat recovery systems that posed serious fire hazards

More information about product safety can be found here.

 

How do I report a serious electrical incident?

When an electrical incident occurs, first seek the necessary medical attention and ensure the health care provider is informed that the injury involved electricity. With regard to reporting the incident, an owner, contractor or operator of a facility shall report any serious electrical incident. Reporting of serious electrical incident is required within 48 hours under Rule 2-007 of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (O. Reg. 10/02).

You must you report:

  • Any electrical contact that causes death
  • Any electrical incidents that causes critical injury, such as an injury that places life in jeopardy, major
  • loss of blood, loss of limb, produces unconsciousness, fracture or amputation of arm or leg, but not fingers or toes, burns to major part of body, loss of an eye
  • Any fire or explosion or any condition suspected of being electrical in origin which might have caused
  • a fire, explosion, loss of life, critical injury to a person, or damage to property
  • Any electrical contact with electrical equipment operating at over 750 volts
  • Any explosion or fire of electrical equipment operating at over 750 volts

Call the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) at 1-877-372-7233 or 1-877-ESA-SAFE and if it is a workplace injury, then you must also call the Ministry of Labour.

Review Reporting Guidelines

 

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Records & Information Requests

I need some historical information about my property. How do I get that?

You need to request a Record Search. A Record Search tells you whether there are any open or outstanding ESA notifications for a particular address. A request can be made using the Record Search form (a fee is applicable). 

 

What is a Request for Information and how do I submit one?

A Request for Information is a general request whereas a Record Search is about whether there are any open or outstanding ESA notifications for a particular address. Requests must be made through a Request for Information form (a fee is applicable). 

Information and records are released in accordance with ESA’s Access and Privacy Code and federal and provincial privacy legislation. Every person has a right of access to a record in the custody and under the control of ESA unless all or part of the information qualifies for an exemption.

 

Learn more about Records & Information Searches

 

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Electrical Product Safety

What is ESA’s role involving product safety?

ESA is responsible for electrical product safety related to Regulation 438/07 which addresses approval of electrical products before they are used, sold, offered, advertised or put on display. ESA also responds to unsafe industrial and commercial products in the marketplace. The Regulation was made under the Electricity Act, 1998, and prescribes the process for electrical product approval and the way in which electrical product safety is handled in Ontario.

 

What is the intent of the Product Safety Regulation?

The regulation is intended to:

  • provide up-to-date rules to protect consumers, users, operators and the public from the use of unapproved or unsafe electrical products
  • promote safe market practices for the distribution of electrical products
  • create a responsive and efficient legal framework to respond to unapproved electrical products or unsafe commercial and industrial electrical products when discovered
  • deter non-compliance and strengthen enforcement
  • create transparent regulatory requirements for manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers and certification bodies and field evaluation agencies of electrical products

 

What products are affected by the Product Safety Regulation?

ESA is responsible for pre-market approval requirements for all electrical equipment and products (including consumer electrical products), covered under the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC), offered for sale in the Ontario marketplace, and for post-market safety oversight of commercial and industrial products.

 

What are the benefits of the Product Safety Regulation?

The passage of Bill 152 and the Product Safety Regulation (O. Reg. 438/07) has enshrined ESA’s role and responsibility for electrical product safety. The broad scope of this regulation enhances ESA’s tools to address and respond more quickly to product safety incidents.

The Product Safety Regulation authorizes the ESA to:

  • Respond to reports regarding unsafe commercial and industrial products;
  • Remove unsafe commercial and industrial electrical products and unapproved products from the marketplace
  • Require public notification, and
  • Implement prevention-based and proactive detection and enforcement activities.

 

How does ESA currently respond to product safety issues?

ESA’s focus is on responding to complaints about electrical products, responding to reports of unsafe electrical products, conducting investigations, issuing safety alerts and recall notices, and providing information as required. ESA works in conjunction with other electrical safety partners that include the federal government, other provincial electrical safety regulators, certification bodies, and the electrical product supply chain (e.g., manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers).

 

Are the provisions for mandatory reporting on serious electrical incidents, accidents or defects still in effect under the regulation?

On June 26, 2013, the Ontario government amended Regulation 438/07, removing obligations for mandatory reporting to ESA. ESA continues to accept and investigate voluntary reports of unapproved electrical products and incidents and accidents involving commercial and industrial products. The regulation has also been amended to include a consumer electrical product definition (consistent with the definition under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act), and to eliminate ESA’s authority to order notification to the public and require corrective action respecting consumer electrical products. 

ESA will continue to play an important role in managing the safety of electrical products.  ESA will retain responsibility for pre-market approval requirements for all electrical equipment and products (including consumer electrical products) covered under the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC), offered for sale in the Ontario marketplace, and will also retain responsibility for post-market safety oversight of commercial and industrial products.

To ensure ESA has the appropriate tools to address identified issues with pre-market approval requirements and post-market industrial and commercial products, the requirement for industry, certification bodies and inspection bodies to assist ESA in an investigation remains unchanged. ESA maintains the authority to order unapproved or hazardous electrical products offered for sale, to be retained. 

 

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Contractor Licensing/Master Electricians

Can I take out an application for inspection (also referred to as a permit) if I don’t hold a current electrical contractor’s licence?

If you are doing work on your own the property or if you are an occupant in a residential dwelling you are permitted to take out an application for inspection for that property only.

If you are operating as an electrical contracting business you must hold an electrical contractor’s licence from ECRA/ESA to take out an application for inspection.

 

Am I permitted to quote on electrical work if I don’t have an ECRA/ESA contractor’s licence?

No. You must have a valid electrical contractor licence to bid on electrical work.

 

I am a licensed Master Electrician. Can I quote, advertise, or perform electrical work without an Electrical Contractor’s licence?

No. Although an individual may hold a Master Electrician’s licence from ESA, this does not authorize the individual to engage in or propose to engage in the carrying out of electrical contracting work. Unless exempted by the Licensing Regulation, every electrical contracting business is required to hold a valid electrical contractor licence issued by ESA. 

 

Can a licensed contractor sub-contract electrical work?

Yes, but only to another ECRA/ESA Licensed Electrical Contractor.

 

Is a separate licence required in each municipality?

No, the ECRA/ESA licence permits electrical work to be done throughout Ontario.

 

Do HVAC Contractors need an electrical contractor licence?

It depends on the scope of the work they are doing and the qualifications of the individuals doing the work. Exemptions include:

  • Refrigeration and air conditioning systems mechanics or residential air conditioning systems mechanics if the work is being done by a person authorized under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.
  • Work done on electrical components of appliances by a person authorized to do such work under Ontario Regulation 210/01 (Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems), Ontario Regulation 211/01 (Propane Storage and Handling) and Ontario Regulation 215/01 (Fuel Industry Certificates) – made under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000.

Anyone engaged in this type of work should contact OCOT and TSSA to confirm their limitations. If an HVAC contractor is doing electrical work outside of the scope of theses qualifications then they would require an electrical contractor licence.

 

Why can a homeowner take out permits?

Under Ontario law, homeowners are allowed to do electrical work in their own home, but they must meet the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. That includes taking out all required permits.

The licensing regulation addresses the licensing of electrical contracting businesses. Those not operating as a Licensed Electrical Contractor are only able to take out a permit (also referred to as an application for inspection) if they are doing work on their own home or if they are an occupant in a residential dwelling. In those cases, they are permitted to take out an application for inspection for that property only. Almost all electrical work requires a permit from ESA.

 

Are contractors from outside the province required to have a ECRA/ESA licence?

Yes they are required to obtain an ECRA/ESA Electrical Contractor licence. See the Requirements for an Electrical Contractor Licence.

Contractors coming from outside Ontario must meet the same requirements as contractors working in Ontario. Learn more about Out of Province Contractors.

There are some licensing exemptions depending on the type of work that is being done. See the exemptions near the bottom of this page.

 

I’m from another province or country. Do my qualifications meet the requirements to obtain a licence?

Individuals who carry the Interprovincial certificate of qualification or out of country electricians must contact the Ontario College of Trades before working in Ontario.  In general, work experience in Canada with the proper qualifications will be recognized towards a Master Electrician licence and work done in another country is not. There are some licensing exemptions depending on the type of work that is being done.  See the exemptions near the bottom of this page.

Please refer to Ontario Regulation 570/05 for the specific requirements.

 

I’m a contractor from Quebec and I was told there was an agreement related to the qualifications that are accepted for electricians to work in Ontario. Is this true?

Individuals from Quebec who hold a valid “Certificat de compétence- compagnon” are allowed to work as electricians under a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Ontario, and they are eligible to become a Master Electrician with ECRA/ESA without registering with the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). The Maitre Electicien is not recognized in Ontario.

 

If I have my Master Electrician’s licence in another province, is it transferrable in Ontario?

No, the Master Electrician’s licence from any other country or province is not accepted in Ontario.  An individual who would like to get their Master Electrician’s licence in Ontario must meet the requirement which includes passing the Master Electrician exam administered by the Electrical Safety Authority.

 

What is five-year licensing and how does it work?

ESA updated its licensing renewal process in 2016 based on feedback from licensees through its advisory councils and a public consultation process. The update reduced the administrative effort it takes to renew an Electrical Contractor or Master Electrician licence for contractors and ESA. Rather than submitting full licensing documentation every year, licensees are now only required to send these documents every five years. In the other years, licensees self-declare that licensing requirements are in place and up-to-date. This change will also allow ESA staff to focus more effort on licensing enforcement for those who work outside the system and more on audits and discipline for licensees who do not meet requirements.

See Renew Your Licence for more information.

 

How do I verify that my application has been completed in full before I submit it to ECRA/ESA?

There are checklists provided on the second page of the application forms. Please make sure that you have included all the required information/documentation from the checklist before submitting your application to ECRA/ESA or you risk having it sent back as incomplete.

Go to Contractor Licensing Forms

 

The disclaimer on your forms reads: by submitting personal information to the Electrical Safety Authority, or its agents and service providers, you agree that ESA may collect, use and disclose such personal information in accordance with its privacy policy, applicable laws or pursuant to our administrative agreement with the province of Ontario. Does this mean that ESA provides information to other organizations as a "calling list" or so that others can use the information at their disposal?

No, ESA does not provide information to third parties for the purpose of soliciting. The information gathered is only used in accordance with the Access and Privacy Policy. The fundamental premise behind the Access and Privacy Code is that ESA is bound to disclose information.

As a regulator and administrative authority of the government, ESA must follow a consistent process for information release no matter the source of the request.

ESA’s Access and Privacy Code defines what information will not be disclosed even if it is requested. For example, information ESA will not disclose includes “personal information, disclosure of which violates an individual’s right to privacy, unless that individual consents to the disclosure” and “records containing commercial, proprietary, technical or financial information.”  These definitions are established in law. 

ESA regularly denies all or portions of Requests for Information that violate the terms of the Code. At the same time, information that does not fall under these exemptions must be disclosed if requested.

 

How long will it take to receive my ECRA/ESA licence?

Every effort will be made to process all completed applications within four weeks from the date they are received by ECRA/ESA’s customer service centre.

 

Can I take out a permit immediately after I send you my application?

No. You will only be able to take out permits once you have received your Electrical Contractor licence in the mail.

  

Why does ESA need a government tax number and what is this for?

The business registration number that is asked for on the Electrical Contractor licence application is needed to verify that the business is a registered business in Ontario, as required by the provincial government.

 

What is WSIB?

WSIB stands for Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. It is a service that companies must register with if they have employees. The registration confirms that the company has insurance coverage for their employees should a work-related injury occur. Contact WSIB to arrange for coverage if applicable.

 

How do I obtain $2 million liability insurance?

The ESA does not associate directly with insurance companies regarding liability coverage for contractor licensing.  You will have to inquire with an insurance company directly.

 

Where does my ECRA/ESA licence need to be displayed?

An electrical contractor shall prominently display their ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence number (i.e.7999999) in all correspondence, contracts, advertisements, on business vehicles and, generally, in all situations where they are communicating with the public. This also includes yellow page ads and websites.

See Requirements to Display Your Licence for more information

 

Do I have to place my ECRA/ESA licence number on my vehicles? What is the standard size, location, etc.?

Yes, Ontario Regulation 570/05 requires that an electrical contractor shall prominently display the Licence number in all correspondence, contracts, advertisements, yellow pages, website, on business vehicles and, generally, in all situations where they are communicating with the public within 90 days of the date of issuance of their licence.

Review the guidelines and obtain copies of the ECRA/ESA logo

 

Do I have to display my ECRA/ESA Master Electrician licence number?

No, you do not need to display your ECRA/ESA Master Electrician licence number. Only a Licensed Electrical Contractor shall prominently display the ECRA/ESA licence number (i.e. 7999999) in all correspondence, contracts, advertisements, on business vehicles and, generally, in all situations where they are communicating with the public. This also includes yellow page ads and websites.

 

If I contract out any electrical work, can I put in my company’s advertisements that we do/offer electrical work?

No, only Licensed Electrical Contractors can advertise to conduct electrical work. If your company is a “general contractor” your advertisements must say that you only use ECRA/ESA Licensed Electrical Contractors to perform the electrical work.

 

Why do I have two licence numbers?

If you have a licence issued under a seven digit number that begins with a 6 (i.e. 6999999), this is your Master Electrician licence number.  The Master Electrician (ME) licence is issued to individuals who have met the ME requirements.  The ME licence is a requirement for an individual who wants to be the designated ME for an electrical contracting company licensed by ECRA/ESA.

If you have a licence issued under a seven digit number that begins with a 7 (i.e. 7999999), this is your electrical contractor licence number.  The electrical contractor licence is issued to a company that is permitted to engage in performing electrical contracting work in Ontario.

 

How can I file a complaint against a licensed or unlicensed contractor?

Please see ESA’s complaints process.

 

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Master Electrician Exam

How can I find out where and when the Pre-Master Electrician courses and Master Electrician exams are taking place?

The Master Electrician Exam and Training Schedules are available via the links below:

Master Electrician Exam Schedule

Training Schedule

 

Can I write my Master Electrician’s exam before I have met the three year (C of Q, PENG, CET or CTECH) requirement?

No. You cannot write the Master Electrician exam until you have fulfilled the three year experience requirement under the appropriate Certificate of Qualification, Professional Engineer’s licence or as a Certified Engineering Technologist or Engineering Technician.  The three years experience is calculated from the date of issuance of your licence or certification (apprenticeship does not count) and should be with a Licensed Electrical Contractor.

 

Can I bring an interpreter to the exam?

The Language Interpreter Services (LIS) program of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration is the only approved provider of interpreters for the Master Electrician Exam. Please contact the Licensing department at 905-712-5385 to set up an exam date, and then contact LIS to organize an interpreter. For a listing of the office in your area, please see the LIS interpreter contact list on the second page of the Master Electrician Exam Notice of Interpreter Attendance document.

If an individual requires an interpreter during the Master Electrician exam, he or she must fax the Master Electrician Exam Notice of Interpreter Attendance form 10 business days prior to the exam date for approval. Scheduling and fees associated in organizing an interpreter are at the expense of the requesting individual.

 

Can I receive my Master Electrician exam results by telephone?

No, to maintain privacy, exam results will not be provided over the telephone. Exam results are sent via mail/email and can take up to 15 business days after the exam is received by the Licensing department.  If you are taking the exam electronically, you will receive your results the following day.

 

Can I make notes in my Code book?

It is permitted to make notes in the codebook that expand on concepts or words which may not be understood. It is not permitted to add notes that are not relevant to the material covered in the codebook. The material you bring into an exam session will be reviewed before you enter and leave to check for unapproved notes.

 

I have a learning disability and require assistance. Can someone help me?

Yes, in the event that that an individual requires assistance due to a learning disability, assistance can be provided.  You must provide proof of the disability (i.e. doctor’s note).  Please contact the Licensing department at 905-712-5385 or masters.exam@electricalsafety.on.ca to make accommodations.

 

Is the Pre-Master electrician course a prerequisite for the Master Electrician exam?

No, however, applicants who fail the Master Electrician examination two times will be subject to review, and may not be permitted to write again unless the applicant has participated in a Pre-Master Electrician Course or other related course.

 

What can I bring to the exam?

The following items are permitted at the Master Electrician exam:

  1. Ontario Electrical Safety Code 26th Edition / 2015 (no photocopies)
  2. Relevant Legislation as it relates to electrical contracting (this can include printed e-laws, the Master Electrician Examination reference book, Guideline to the Duties and Responsibilities of LECs and DMEs etc.) Workbooks are not permitted.
  3. Calculator
  4. Pencil

 

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Contractors – Administration & Compliance

Do I have to place my Electrical Contractor number on my vehicles? What is the standard size, location, etc.?

Yes, Ontario Regulation 570/05 requires that an electrical contractor shall prominently display the Licence number in all correspondence, contracts , advertisements, yellow pages, website, on business vehicles and, generally, in all situations where they are communicating with the public within 90 days of the date of issuance of their licence.

Review the guidelines and obtain copies of the ECRA/ESA logo

 

Where does my ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence need to be displayed?

An electrical contractor shall prominently display the ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence number (i.e. 7999999) in all correspondence, contracts and advertisements, on business vehicles and, generally, in all situations where they are communicating with the public. This also includes yellow page ads and websites.

 

What is ESA doing about unlicensed contractors who are still doing electrical work?

The underground economy is a big concern of ours and one we share with stakeholders. ESA uses our full range of enforcement powers to address unlicensed electrical work, including pursuing prosecutions, fines and jail time through the courts. Our record of convictions delivers a strong, clear message that unlawful behaviour that puts public safety at risk has serious consequences. 

We share information about our convictions publicly to educate consumers and contractors about the legal requirement to hire only Licensed Electrical Contractors and the consequences to breaking the law. We have programs in place to help identify suspected underground commercial renovation work being done without an electrical permit and have developed an approach to intercept illegal advertising online.

Our public awareness campaigns have been proven to increase awareness of the requirement to hire a licensed electrical contractor.  In fact, our research finds that people who see our ads are almost twice as likely to hire a licensed electrical contractor.

 

Why don’t you go after every unlicensed contractor?

While everything in the underground economy has the potential for a safety hazard, enforcement efforts take up considerable resources.

We need to prioritize our efforts and pursue action through the courts where we have a solid case, a strong likelihood of conviction, and can make the greatest impact on safety.

This includes raising awareness among the public on how to protect themselves from unlicensed operators.

 

Why do our licensing dollars get spent on enforcement?

The underground economy is a big concern of ours and one we share with stakeholders. We enforce regulations to help create a fair, competitive marketplace, one where everyone is playing by the same rules.  The underground economy not only poses a safety risk but it can also take jobs away from LECs. 

We aggressively pursue those doing unlicensed work and use our full range of enforcement powers including prosecutions, fines and jail time. Our record of convictions delivers a strong, clear message that unlawful behaviour that puts public safety at risk has serious consequences. 

Our public awareness campaigns have been proven to increase awareness of the requirement to hire a licensed electrical contractor.  In fact, our research finds that people who see our ads are almost twice as likely to hire a licensed electrical contractor.

 

Why aren’t fines higher than they are?

The court-ordered fines have been steadily increasing and are significantly higher than they used to be. They now average in multiple of thousands of dollars. In addition, we have successfully secured jail time convictions.

Note that fines are set and collected by the Ontario courts. ESA does not receive any of the funds.

 

Do you have a database for LECs that have been found working without a permit?

Yes, we have an extensive database that we review on a regular basis. ESA tracks warnings and notices issued to maintain a history on contractors.  We refer to this database when we have any upcoming investigations and/or prosecutions for additional information.

Convictions of unlicensed contractors and Licensed Electrical Contractors are posted online on ESA’s website.

 

What is the process you follow when you find an unlicensed contractor doing illegal work?

Once it has been identified that illegal work has been performed, ESA issues a Notice of Violation to the unlicensed contractor.  This Notice clearly states that the contractor did not follow the requirements in the Electricity Act and must stop all electrical work immediately.

A licensing enforcement process considers a number of factors in order to determine whether to initiate an investigation with the intent to prosecute. For example, if there are prior occurrences with the contractor, this is an important factor in determining the course of action. Prior occurrences would prove in this case that the contractor knew the law and refused to abide by it.  When in court, repeat offenders may receive a larger fine as a deterrent to performing additional electrical work without a licence.  This is why we track all occurrences and maintain a history of all complaints.

 

Does the Designated Master Electrician have to be on the site?

No, the Designated Master Electrician (DME) does not have to be on site but they do need to ensure that electrical work being done meets the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

DMEs are responsible for direct supervision and personal planning. The Guideline to the Duties and Responsibilities of Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) and Designated Master Electricians (DMEs) document provides examples of what both of these could include. LECs must have a minimum of one DME, but that doesn’t mean that there has to be only one. We can’t tell you how or who to appoint as your DME, but if this is a challenge for you, you may need to re-consider how direct oversight is achieved within your company.

 

What does direct supervision mean?

Direct supervision is one of the requirements of a Designated Master Electrician. Direct supervision involves monitoring the execution of activities to ensure work is being carried out in a way that keeps consumers and workers safe. It must be adhered to as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements.

 

Can a Designated Master Electrician be responsible for several sites at the same time?

Yes, a Designated Master Electrician (DME) can be responsible for a number of work sites at one time. It is the responsibility of the DME to ensure that all work that is taking place at their sites is Code compliant and that safe work practices are being followed. ESA cannot tell you how or who to appoint as your DME, or how many DMEs are appropriate for your company, but if direct oversight is a challenge for you, you may need to re-consider how it is achieved within your company, because it is a requirement.

 

What are the different reasons that an account may be blocked?

There are four different reasons that ESA may block a contractor’s account. These include:

  1. Defect Block - A defect block is recommended when a contractor historically continues to ignore defect correction timelines or includes multiple sites. The block is ordered at the discretion of the Inspector. For Life and or Property defects the Inspector will take action more quickly.
  2. Credit Block - A credit block will take place when there has been a non payment on an account and it has moved into collection and/or company has declared bankruptcy.
  3. Licensing Block - A licensing block will occur when there has been a failure to submit declaration forms, failure to pay licence fees, or a failure to submit full licensing package (once every five years).
  4. Credit Limit Increase Block - A Contractor may not be able to take out permits temporarily if over credit limit.

 

What is the process for blocking a Contractor’s account?

Depending on the reason for the block there are different methods of notifying the contractor that there has been a block placed on the account. In each case there are multiple notifications to the contractor that include written and verbal attempts to advise the contractor that the account has been blocked. This is not a process that ESA takes lightly. This is the last resort that ESA takes when all other efforts to resolve the issue have been taken. ESA makes every attempt to provide Contractors with advance notice that their account has been blocked.

More information on Account Blocks

 

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Electrical Plan Review

What is a plan review? When do plans have to be submitted to Plan Review?

Plan review is a general review and audit of a set of plans for a proposed installation for compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. The plan review is not intended to approve or be a substitution of the work of a Professional Engineer. Plans are submitted for review as per the requirements of Rule 2-010 of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. Plan Review is also the name of the department at ESA that performs the review. 

Electrical work on any electrical installation shall not start until plans have been submitted and examined by the Plan Review department where the electrical installation involves:

  • a three phase consumer service or stand by generation, equal to or in excess of 400 amp circuit capacity;
  • a single-phase consumer service or standby generation equal to or in excess of 600 amp;
  • a feeder greater than 1000 amp;
  • any installations involving consumer owned electric power generating equipment, with a rating in excess of 10 kW (Micro Size) as defined by the OEB, and operating in parallel with a supply authority system; or
  • any installation operating in excess of 750 volts, excluding:
    • installations of pole lines exclusively within the scope of Section 75; or
    • that portion of an underground installation between a supply authority owned transformer and the related supply authority owned switch; or
    • equipment replacement as described in Rule 2-010(4)

 

How long does it take to get a plan review?

Our goal is to complete a plan review within 10 to 20 business days for low voltage submittals and 20 to 30 days for submittals that include customer owned high voltage equipment.

 

Do you accept sketches?

Yes as long as the sketches are legible and contain all of the required information.

 

Why do I have to use the submittal form?

The submittal form has been designed to aid you in your submission and to help ensure a smooth submission process so that ESA can meet the intended turnaround times. Specific information required for the review is contained in the submittal form.

 

What happens if information is missing?

If information is missing the submittal will not be registered. You will receive an email, fax and/or a phone call asking about the information. If the information is not provided within 10 business days, the submission will be discarded and you will be required to resubmit the entire package with all of the information.

 

I don't know the information required for my plan review. What should I do?

If you do not have all of the information at the time of submittal then you should not submit. Any incomplete submission will not be registered, and after 10 business days it will be discarded. You will then be required to resubmit. For this reason it is better to wait until all information is available before submitting.

 

Can I submit my plan review online?

No, currently you cannot submit your plan review online. However, you can find a copy of all of the required forms on the Submitting a Plan Review page. In addition to the forms, the Plan Review section can provide the contact information for the office, detailed instructions on how to submit, acceptable methods of submission, sample drawings and a copy of the latest Plan Review Bulletin.

 

Can I submit my plan review electronically?

Yes, you may submit your plan review electronically. Please check the Methods of Submittal in the Submitting a Plan Review page for detailed information/restrictions.

 

Can I get a rush plan review?

Yes. We do accept rush plan reviews. Each rush request is viewed by the Plan Review Manager who will determine the validity of the request. In addition to the minimum two hour fee plus review time, there is a three hour administrative charge for a rush plan review.

 

Do I need to contact the Plan Review department when I make changes based on the comments I receive?

Once the plan review is complete, up until the time the project is underway, you may still contact the Plan Review department for clarification on issues regarding the project. Once the project is underway, you are required to contact the local field inspector as they have the authority to accept or reject your changes.

 

When do I need to re-submit?

Should there be a major change in the scope of the project, you would be required to resubmit. For example, a major change would include: changing the service size, changing the main feeder size and quantity or changing from tamper resistant equipment to non tamper resistant equipment. The only other time you would be required to resubmit would be at the direction of the field inspector.

 

Does my plan review ever expire?

As long as your submittal was reviewed to the current or last edition of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, with no major changes, the report is still valid.

 

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Ontario Electrical Safety Code

What is the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (Code)?

The Code is an Ontario regulation that establishes safety standards for the installation and maintenance of electrical equipment. It is primarily a technical document, prescriptive in approach. Revisions to the Code are made through a broad consultative process at both the provincial and national level, and through the collaboration of the Electrical Safety Authority and its safety partners.

 

Why is there a new Code?

The Ontario Electrical Safety Code includes changes to the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC), Part 1, and Ontario-specific amendments. Major changes made to the 2015 CEC warranted an update of the Ontario Code. ESA collaborated with its safety partners to produce this new edition of the Code to reflect changes in technology and the marketplace, feedback from stakeholders, technical reviews and new safety insights.

 

I have already purchased the CEC; do I still need a 2015 Code?

The law requires that all electrical installations in Ontario meet the requirements of the Code. It is recommended that anyone permitted to perform electrical work in Ontario have a current copy of the 2015 Code. The 2015 Code contains the complete version of the CEC and the Ontario-specific amendments.

 

What is the difference between the CEC and the Ontario Electrical Safety Code?

In addition to very specific Ontario administrative requirements, there are also technical differences from the CEC identified in the Code with the symbol below.

 

How can I tell the difference between the Ontario amendments of the new Code and the CEC rules?

The Ontario amendments are identified by a Black Trillium symbol (below) and the Ontario text is in italics. A list of the Ontario amendments is also provided in the Code section of the ESA website.

 

What is the price of the 2015 Code?

This year, ESA has partnered with CSA Group to offer the Code book and all ESA bulletins – which provide important updates and interpretations – together for one price and at a significantly reduced rate from prior years. Bulletins were previously offered separately.

It will be available in print for $219 or a searchable, digital format for $195 – accessible on smart phones, tablets and desktops and compatible with Windows and iOS.

 

Is the 2015 Code available in French?

Ontario-specific amendments, based on the 2015 Code, are available in French on ESA’s website. The national version of the Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1, is available in French and English, and can be purchased through CSA Group.

 

What is the size of the printed version of the Code book?

The Code book is 8 ½ x 11 inches, spiral-bound, same as in 2012. The Pocket Reference guide is 4 x 6 ¼ inches.

 

What is the process to have a defective Code book replaced (i.e. page missing, etc)?

In the case of a defective Code book, contact the CSA Group at 800-463-6727 and arrange for a replacement. CSA Group will ship the replacement book at no charge to the customer.

 

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Technical/Code Questions – “Ask ESA”

I have a technical question - what do I do?

The Frequently Asked Questions knowledgebase is intended to provide information on the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and its application. It does not constitute advice on how to do electrical work and should not be used as a substitute for the services of a qualified electrician or electrical contractor. When using the knowledgebase be aware that the information may not apply to your specific situation.

Go to the Frequently Asked Questions knowledgebase

 

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Appeals Process

What can be appealed?

Orders issued by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) under section 113. 11 of the Electricity Act, 1998, the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the Electrical Distribution Safety Regulation (O. Reg 22/04), or the Electrical Product Safety Regulation (O. Reg 438/07) which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Defect notices
  • Disconnection orders
  • Orders related to unapproved products
  • Non-compliance Orders with the Electricity Distribution Safety Regulation
  • Non-compliance Orders with the Product Safety Regulation
  • Refusals to grant a connection authorization
  • Findings on plans
  • Refusals to approve plans
  • Orders to Comply issued under the Electricity Act, 1998

Notices of Proposal and Notices made on licenses or licensing applications, issued under Part VIII of the Electricity Act, 1998, and specifically O.Reg 570/05 for the Licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Notices of proposal refusing to grant a licence
  • Notices of proposal refusing to renew a licence
  • Notices of proposal suspending a licence
  • Notices of proposal revoking a licence
  • Notices of proposal to grant a licence subject to restrictions, limitations or conditions
  • Notices of proposal for renewing a licence subject to restrictions, limitations or conditions
  • Notices of provisional refusal to renew a licence (due to immediate threat to public safety or the safety of any person)
  • Notices of provisional suspension of a licence (due to immediate threat to public safety or the safety of any person)

Decisions

  • The decision a Director renders after a hearing in Step 1 of the appeals process
  • The decision the Review Panel renders after a hearing in Step 2 of the appeals process

You cannot appeal the following as they are not Orders, Notices of Proposal or Director/Review Panel Decisions:

  • Any matter regarding a formal expression of dissatisfaction regarding the standard of service, action or lack of action by or on behalf of ESA, where action is required by ESA- these are complaints
  • Postponements
  • Deviations
  • Continuous Safety Services contract
  • Authorized Contract Program suspensions
  • Refusal to write a licensing examination
  • Fees associated with inspections

 

Who can file an appeal?

Any person named in:

  • A Notice, Notice of Proposal issued by the Director of Licensing; or
  • An Order issued by ESA

 

How can an appeal be filed?

A person who wishes to file a Notice of Appeal before the Director or a Notice of Appeal before the Review Panel should file the required documents with ESA’s Director of Appeals at the following address:

Electrical Safety Authority
Director of Appeals
155A Matheson Blvd West
Mississauga, ON L5R 3L5

To help schedule your Step 2 Appeal before the Review Panel as soon as possible, please provide a daytime telephone number, your current full address and if available, an email address or a fax number where you can receive documents from the Director of Appeals or the Review Panel.

 

What are the fees associated with an appeal?

There is no filing fee to submit a Notice of Appeal before a Director. In Step 2 of the appeals process, there is a non-refundable filing fee of $113 (includes HST) to request an Appeal before the Review Panel. This fee can be paid by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or a certified cheque or money order made payable to the Electrical Safety Authority.

The Appellant is also responsible for their own costs in presenting their case. These costs may include legal, expert or witness fees, travel costs etc.

 

What are the steps in the appeal process?

ESA has a 3-Step Appeals Process. Each step must be completed before proceeding to the next step.

  • Step 1 – Appeal before the Director
  • Step 2 – Appeal before the Review Panel
  • Step 3 – Appeal to Divisional Court

 

Prior to filing an application for appeal, the parties should make every effort amongst themselves to attempt to resolve any issues bringing them to the appeals process.

Parties may request to convene a Pre-Hearing Conference once an application for appeal before the Review Panel only has been submitted.  The Pre-Hearing Conference is intended to give the parties an opportunity to discuss the scope of the hearing prior to the hearing taking place.  This step is helpful in planning the hearing itself so that it can be run as efficiently as possible.

A form is completed and submitted to ESA for each step of the appeals process.  If you choose to appeal, it is recommended that you provide any and all correspondence you have had with ESA to try to resolve the matter, a timeline of events and a list of reasons that support why you are appealing the defect.  You may also have legal counsel represent you through the appeals process. Learn more about the Appeals Regulation and process.

Get more information on the Appeals Process, including a Step by Step Guide and required forms/documentation.

 

How do I request a time extension?

The party named in an ESA Order or Notice of Proposal may request an extension of time, in writing, to the Director of Appeals, Director of Licensing or Review Panel. The extension may be granted if the Director or Review Panel is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for applying for the extension and that there are apparent grounds for granting the extension.  They may also give some directions as appropriate.  The request for time extension should be detailed so as to explain to the Director or Review Panel the clear reason for the request.

Time extensions can be requested for:

  • Filing a Notice of Appeal before a Director
  • Filing a Notice of Appeal before the Review Panel

 

 

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Have more questions?

If you are unable to find the answer to your question on esasafe.com, you can contact us at 1 (877) ESA-SAFE (372-7233) or you can submit your question online through our general inquiries page.

 

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