(Canadian OH&S News) — For the first time, an Ontario court has handed down a jail sentence to a contractor who performed illegal electrical work and violated several Ontario College of Trades (OCT) requirements.
According to an Oct. 7 statement from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) in Mississauga, the contractor was sentenced in a Hamilton court on Oct. 2 to 30 days in jail and $6,250 in fines. He was also placed on two years’ probation.
The ESA reported that Richard Hazel, operating as Voltcom Electrical Services, was found guilty of eight charges: four counts of working without an electrical contractor’s licence, one count of failing to obtain the required inspections, two counts of producing a false certificate of qualification and one count of leaving behind unsafe electrical conditions in four homes in Hamilton and Burlington. (The business’ operating name is similar to that of Burlington, Ont.-based Voltcom Inc., a residential/commercial and industrial electrical contractor.)
This was not the first time that Hazel had been convicted of unsafe electrical work, the ESA noted. In 2012, he was fined $23,750 after being convicted on 19 counts of violating electrical safety regulations at seven sites in the Windsor area. In addition to the ESA charges, he pleaded guilty to five related charges laid by the OCT and was fined another $7,400 plus one year of probation for those offences.
In the most recent case, an ESA inspector identified a renovation in a Hamilton home that had been completed without a permit and determined, upon further investigation, that repeat offender Hazel had completed the work. That finding, in October of 2013, led to the discovery of numerous electrical hazards and that Hazel had falsely produced an OCT certificate of qualification in order to gain employment with two licensed electrical contractors.
Normand Breton, the general manager, registrar and director of contractor licensing and powerline safety with the ESA, said that the court delivered a “strong, clear message” with the sentence. “We are very pleased to see that the court has taken this next important step, which we hope will deter others in the underground economy who are working outside the law.”
The ESA reminded consumers in the statement to follow the “three C’s” when hiring somebody to perform electrical work: check to ensure the contractor holds a valid Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA)/ESA electrical contractor licence (a searchable database is available at www.esasafe.com); confirm that the person is arranging the appropriate inspections from ESA; and call ESA at 1-877-372-7233 if someone appears to be misrepresenting himself or herself.
“Don’t settle the final bill until you have the ESA Certificate of Inspection in hand,” Breton advised, adding that hiring an ECRA/ESA licensed electrical contractor ensures that the hired company is fully insured, uses qualified electricians to perform work, will arrange for permits with the ESA and can deliver an ESA Certificate of Inspection.