OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.

Jun 28 1988

 

MEMORANDUM FOR: JAMES W. LAKE
  REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR

 

THROUGH: LEO CAREY, DIRECTOR OFFICE OF FIELD PROGRAMS

FROM: THOMAS J. SHEPICH, DIRECTOR DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS

SUBJECT: National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Warning Alert Regarding Imported Circuit Breaker Panels

In response to your memorandum dated April 18, 1988, regarding the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) warning regarding imported circuit breaker panels, the following information is forwarded.

The OSHA standards require the following: 1910.303(a) Approval. The conditions and equipment required or permitted by this subpart shall be acceptable only if approved. 1910.303(b)(2) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be used or installed in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

The difficulty in determining whether a circuit breaker has been installed in a loadcenter or panel board for which it has not been specifically listed or labeled, and hence not acceptable to the Assistant Secretary, is one which is not readily discernible to the OSHA compliance officer. The primary responsibility rests with the installer and the local electrical building inspector's enforcement of the NEC.

The time involved in researching the basic problem of whether a UL listed device has been improperly installed in concealed portions of permanent wiring is not consistent with the anticipated hazard. In fact, no specific hazards are mentioned by NEMA, therefore OSHA should consider this a de minimus violation which has no direct bearing on safety or health.

Attachment

WARNING TO INSTALLERS AND INSPECTORS OF CIRCUIT BREAKER PANELS

Circuit breakers are being brought into the U.S. by a number of importers. Some of these importers are advertising, promoting, and selling these circuit breakers as substitutes for circuit breakers furnished by a number of other manufacturers. Some imported circuit breakers carry the U/L mark and are indeed U/L Listed, but they are listed by U/L for installation only in loadcenters manufactured by the same manufacturer as the circuit breakers, unless they have been specifically classified by U/L for use in designated loadcenters and panelboards manufactured by others. Thus, the U/L mark alone does not indicate that circuit breakers bearing the mark may be safely substituted in loadcenters and panelboards manufactured by others, even though the loadcenters and panelboards will physically accept those imported circuit breakers.

A violation of NEC 110-3(b) occurs whenever a circuit breaker is installed in a loadcenter or panelboard for which it has not been specifically listed or labeled.

Failure to follow written installation instructions and/or violation of the National Electrical Code may result in liability to those involved.

Installers and electrical inspectors need to be alert to misleading claims regarding the suitability of products for use in loadcenters and panelboards.

NEMA Panelboard and Distribution Board Section Molded Case Breaker Section National Electrical Manufacturers Association 2101 L Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037

NEMA authorizes this public service message to be reproduced only in its entirety.