Regulating Bodies, Responsibilities and Approval
Why is this information important to you?
As a Sign Service/ Installation technician it is important to know all aspects of your job. From installing CSA approved signs to site built signs, repairing and converting signs it is important to follow safe work practices and legally install the sign.
When you have completed this module you will be able to:
Understand who the following regulating bodies that made the Sign Service/Installation Technician certification are and their roles.
Understand the difference between a company certified by an organization (for example CSA, ULC) and one that it not and how their signs are to be approved for installation.
This instructional workbook was developed by the Alberta Sign Association with the goal of providing safety education and technical training for the electrical certification of a Sign Service/Installation Technician. It is intended that an individual could obtain accreditation from the Alberta Sign Association when they have successfully completed the approved technical training. Part of this accreditation requires an one year on-the-job training period under the supervision of an authorized employer.
Several provincial organizations were consulted and involved in the process of establishing the scope of qualifications necessary for the electrical certification of a Sign Service/Installation Technician. A list of these regulating bodies, complete with their respective jurisdictions as applied to the installation of electrical sign equipment, are listed below.
The Apprenticeship and Industry Training Division of Alberta Learning is responsible for policy and program development for Alberta’s apprenticeship system and the administration of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act. Program development activities include development, revision and maintenance of trade programs, examinations, record books and regulations for both compulsory and optional trades designated in Alberta.
As an example, the Electrician trade is designated as a compulsory certification trade in Alberta. This means that to perform tasks, activities or functions that fall within the scope of the Electrician trade you must be a Certified Electrician, registered apprentice or have obtained an Authorization to Work from the Executive Director of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Division.
Some of the tasks and activities that a Sign Service/Installation Technician is involved in overlap those of a Certified Electrician. The executive director, under Section 23 of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act, has given authorization to work so that a Sign Service/Installation Technician can perform restricted activities associated with electrical installations that would normally be done by a Certified Electrician.
Safety Codes Council
The purpose of the Safety Codes Council is to administer the Safety Codes Act. Under the authority of the Safety Codes Act of Alberta, the Safety Codes Electrical Technical Council was set up to ensure the safe use of electricity in the province. The Safety Codes Act has authority over all electrical wiring and equipment. The only exception to this general rule, in Alberta, is the wiring contained within mines. The Alberta Government has adopted the Canadian Electrical Code and any further standards as regulations in Alberta.
Safety Codes Officers under the authority of the Safety Codes Act perform inspections of electrical installations.
Alberta Employment and Immigration – Occupational Health and Safety
All employers and workers in the Province of Alberta are regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. With regard to health and safety at the work site, the Act defines: the responsibilities that the employer has for the employees of the company; the responsibilities that the employee has for the employer; and the responsibilities that both employer and employee have for other workers at the site. The applicable portion of the Act, Chapter 0-2 of the Revised Statutes of Alberta May 24, 2006 is given below.
2 (1) Every employer shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so, (a) the health and safety of (i) workers engaged in work of that employer, and (ii) those workers not engaged in the work of that employer but present at the work site at which that work is being carried out, and (b) that the workers engaged in the work of that employer are aware of their responsibilities and duties under this Act and the regulations and the adopted code.
(2) Every worker shall, while engaged in an occupation, (a) take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of the worker and of other workers present while he is working, and (b) co-operate with worker’s employer for the purposes of protecting the health and safety of (i) the worker. (ii) other workers engaged in the work of the employer, and (iii) other workers not engaged in the work of that employer by but present at the work site at which that work is being carried out.
(3) Every supplier shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable for the supplier to do so, that any tool, appliance or equipment that the supplier supplies is in safe operating condition.
(4) Every supplier shall ensure that any tool, appliance, equipment, designated substance or hazardous material that the supplier supplies complies with the Act , the regulations and the adopted code..
(5) Every contractor who directs the activities of an employer involved in work at the worksite shall ensure, as far as it is reasonably practical to do so, that the employer complies with this act, the regulations and the adopted code in respect of that worksite.
Information is available from Occupational Health and Safety regarding regulations on work site health and safety as well as other regulations pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Check the Government of Alberta web pages for more information.
Alberta Sign Association
The Alberta Sign Association has accepted the responsibility to maintain a training program and to have it delivered by technical training institutes and colleges throughout the province.
The program will contain a technical training component of approximately 18 hours in school and an on-the-job component of 1 year.
The successful candidate would obtain a document issued by the Sign Association indicating that the individual has successfully received on-the-job training under the supervision of an authorized employer and successfully completed the technical training as required by the conditions of the Authorization to Work. This person will now have the electrical certification of a Sign Service/Installation Technician (SSIT).
Scope of the Authorization to Work
There are limitations to the scope of electrically related activities in which an SSIT can participate. As discussed earlier, only people with a valid Electrician trade certificate or an Authorization to Work are allowed to work on electrical installations which include new construction and alteration or repair to existing installations. The scope of the Authorization to Work granted to the Sign Service/Installation Technician by the Executive Director of Apprenticeship is limited to:
* Disconnection and reconnection of an existing sign installation for the purpose of maintenance, but does not include initial connection of a new installation.
* Routine and regular maintenance on existing sign installations following appropriate safety procedures.
Responsibilities of a SSIT
A Sign Service/Installation Technician as an authorized person has legal and moral responsibility to carry out their work in a professional manner. The public safety is important and legal implications could arise where accidents involving injury or death occur.
In addition to the responsibilities associated with workmanship, it is the responsibility of anyone and everyone associated with the electrical industry to ensure that only approved materials are used in an electrical installation. All electrical equipment installed or sold in the province must be approved by a certification organization (such as CSA, ULC, or Warnock-Hersey etc.). The installation of approved electrical equipment is the responsibility of all of the following:
1. the designing engineer;
2. the sign contractor;
3. the safety codes officer; and
4. the installing Sign Service/Installation Technician.
An approved sign is one that bears evidence of approval, authorized by a certification organization. The components of the sign, (ballasts, wires, lamps, LED etc.) must bear evidence of approval and the sign itself (the combination of these individual components) must bear evidence of approval. This evidence of approval should be on or near the sign nameplate. Signs can fall under two categories: shop built signs that do not require any electrical assembly on site (except the connection to the building electrical system), and sign that require electrical components to be interconnected on site.
Approval of signs
A shop built sign is any lit sign built a shop using approved materials this sign can be lit with LED, neon, fluorescent, metal-halide, mercury-vapor or incandescent light bulbs. The following are two examples of how someone would get approval for a sign to be installed on a site.
1. Company A applies to a certification organization (such as CSA) for permission to apply CSA labels to their signs. The certification organization requires that Company A follow their standards when manufacturing the signs and periodically audits the company to see if the standards are being adhered. Company A builds a sign and wires it in their shop, tests the sign then applies a label to bear evidence of approval and ships it to the site of installation. When the sign is installed a master electrician must take out a permit for the electrical connection to the building electrical system and only this connection needs to be inspected. The sign has already been approved. This situation is no different than installing any approved piece of electrical equipment.
2. Company B is not licensed by a certification organization to apply labels to show evidence of approval. Company B manufactures a sign in their shop and has it sent to the site of installation. Since the sign does not bear evidence of approval, a certification organization must approve the sign before it can be connected to the building electrical system. A certification organization can do a special inspection or the local inspection authority may use their authority to pass the sign. Once the sign is approved a label bearing evidence of this approval is applied near or on the sign nameplate. A master electrician must apply for a permit regarding the connection of the sign to the building electrical system. The connection to the building electrical system can only be done to an approved piece of equipment.
The following three examples of methods for approval of site built signs. These signs need to built on site due to engineering requirements, size or location and may need to be wired to completion on the job site.
1. A company is contracted to install a through-wall neon sign. This company has the choice of going to the site of installation and measuring the required length of leads from each transformer, measuring where holes need to be drilled, and making a complete template of what the sign requires. Then the company can manufacturer the sign in their shop, put it together, test it, then disconnect wires and label them, and send installation instructions with the sign. They can then apply evidence of approval from a certification organization. When the sign arrives at the site a permit may be required for the reconnection of the wires. This is usually not done because of the time involved.
2. Another way this company can install the sign is by applying for a permit to interconnect approved components at the site. A sign service/installation technician or a master electrician applies for a permit before the wiring of the sign begins in the field and then wires the sign at the site. The person wiring the sign can best determine the length of transformer leads at the time the sign is being installed. This field wiring, which is under a permit, is subject to the requirements of the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) Part 1.
Any electrical connections and wiring done in the field (even ones inside a neon channel letter) must be inspected under the permit. The wiring of the sign must be done with approved equipment. All splices must be done in approved electrical enclosures and must be accessible so the inspector can verify that the connections comply with the code. If there is a direct connection made to the neon electrode inside a channel letter then that letter becomes the enclosure for that connection: the letter must bear evidence of approval as an electrical enclosure from a certification organization. If there is not a label on the letter then the direct connection should be covered with an insulating boot. A master electrician must take out another permit for the electrical connection to the building electrical system.
3. In the third situation a company builds a large sign in their shop, tests it to make sure it works and applies a certification organization’s label to the sign. When shipping the sign, it is found that the sign is too large to ship in one piece. The company disconnects some electrical wiring in order to ship the sign in three pieces. The wires are marked and installation instructions are sent with the sign. The final approval of this sign must be done by the local inspection authority. A permit may be required. If it is the permit can be taken out by a sign service/installation technician or a master electrician before commencing work on the reconnections of the wiring. When the sign is installed at the site, the reconnection of the wiring must be approved by the local inspection authority. A permit must be taken out by a master electrician to connect the sign to the building electrical system. This connection must also be approved by the local inspection authority.
Every sign installed must bear evidence that it has been approved before it can be connected to the building electrical system. This evidence can be a label from a certification organization for a sign manufactured in a shop or on site, or an acceptance from the local inspection authority indicating that the wiring of the sign on site, done under a permit has passed the requirements of the Canadian Electrical Code Part 1.
Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act: (Alberta 2009).
Cable for luminous-tube signs and for oil- and gas-burner ignition equipment:
CSA Standard C22.2 No. 17.
Canadian Electrical Code Part 1: Twenty- first addition C22.1-09.
Electrician Apprenticeship Instructional Packages: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Occupational Health and Safety Act: Revised Statutes of Alberta 2006, Chapter 0-2.
Portable and stationary electric signs and displays: CSA Standard C22.2 No. 207
Sign Electrician’s Workbook based on the 1990 NEC: James G. Stallcup.
Transformers for luminous-tube signs, oil- or gas-burner ignition equipment, cold-cathode interior lighting:
CSA Standard C22.2 No. 13.