Georgia Officials Oppose Child Electric Safety Standards

Georgia Officials Oppose Child Electric Safety Standards

After building and legislative officials in nearly 20 states have embraced the 2008 National Electrical Code® (NEC) and its tamper-resistant receptacle requirement, some Georgia officials are turning their backs on better child electrical safety. In a baffling move during a July 24 public hearing, the Georgia State Codes Advisory Committee (SCAC) recommended to exclude Article 406.11, which requires all 125-volt, 15- and 20-ampere electrical receptacles in residential construction to be tamper-resistant, from the state’s NEC adoption. The SCAC rejected this important safety measure in an 11 to 6 vote, citing issues of cost, product availability and usability by older individuals.

It baffles me to think that a technical advisory group like the SCAC made such claims despite multiple testimonials to disprove them at the meeting. This isn’t a cost issue, unless one considers an estimated increase of less than $70 in the cost of a new home’s electrical installation to be unreasonable. This isn’t an availability issue, since tamper-resistant devices have been around for decades and can be found in any hardware store or distributorship. This isn’t a usability issue, since the NFPA and NEMA have conducted thorough testing and research to ensure no major difference in the way tamper-resistant receptacles operate. The NFPA incorporates new requirements into the NEC after extensive research and testing indicate the need for the minimum safety standard to be enhanced. Therefore, any governing body that adopts the Code with amendments is disputing the need to recognize the minimum standard for its constituents.

Seeing the SCAC reject the Code after nearly 20 states have acknowledged its value and necessity shows a complete disregard for better electrical safety. Based on the comments presented at the public hearing and the overwhelming support for the tamper-resistant Code, it’s apparent that the SCAC put its self interests before the safety of Georgia citizens. Now we must do our part to convince the Department of Community Affairs Board of the advisory committee’s shortsightedness, and we won’t need to look far. The proof is right in the “peach state,” with reports of at least two counties (Brunswick and Glynn) pushing to overrule the SCAC recommendation and adopt the NEC with the tamper-resistant requirement by Sept. 1, 2008. I commend these officials for standing their ground and recognizing the importance of maintaining the same level of electrical safety standards that residents in other states will enjoy. Hopefully the DCA will take note of these Code supporters and follow their example.

Anyone concerned with the safety and security of Georgia residents should plan to attend the DCA review hearing, tentatively scheduled for September 24, and the DCA Board meeting scheduled for November 5 in Atlanta. And don’t forget to spread the word to other supporters! Andrei Moldoveanu, technical director, NEMA

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