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COMMENTARY ARCHVES
   

APRIL COMMENTARY
by Share Brandt

“Safe Electrical Wiring”

We believe that electricians practicing their trade in the state of Wisconsin should be required to obtain a license by earning master electrician credentials and taking continuing education classes to stay up-to-date on building and electrical codes. This would at least ensure that an electrician hired for new construction, a remodel, or on-farm wiring is required to know electrical safety code.

Our intent is to improve safety for people and livestock. Electrical work is particularly difficult to visually inspect, especially after construction is completed. Wiring faults account for one-third of all electrical fires. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that hazardous wiring is associated with over 40,000 home fires each year, claiming 350 lives, injuring over a thousand, and causing 20–30 electrocutions plus millions in property damage.

Safety Across the Border

Over 40 other states have some kind of licensing requirements, including Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Electricians from these neighboring states can perform work in Wisconsin; however Wisconsin electricians cannot work in one of these states without obtaining that state’s license.

Contractors don’t like licensing because a licensed worker can demand a slightly higher wage than an unschooled worker. But shouldn’t members of the public have some certainly that the new houses they purchase have electric wiring that meet electric and building code requirements? Aren’t all Wisconsin citizens deserving of certainty in knowing their homes and milking parlors are safe from faulty electrical wiring accidents or nuisance?

In 2007 the Wisconsin Legislature passed into law Act 63, the Wisconsin Electric Code and Electrician Licensing, with bipartisan support. Governor Doyle signed the act in 2008, setting an effective date for statewide implementation in April 2013. The legislation required licensure for anyone doing electrical wiring unless explicitly exempted in the law.

The five-year delay in implementation was to allow current workers time to receive their credentials. With input from the Electric Code Advisory Council and public hearings, the new rules were adopted in 2010. The licenses were to be valid statewide in April 2013 and the state could then negotiate reciprocity agreements with neighboring states.

Dangerous Delays

Unfortunately, a new bill would delay implementation of these new rules. When passed, the electrician licensing rules provided exemptions for homeowners working on their own property, workers maintaining facilities, low-voltage equipment and monitoring devices, manufacturing equipment, and utility related work. These exemptions cover most of the concerns being raised today.

It is time to implement Act 63 as intended in April 2013 to better ensure the electrical safety of Wisconsin citizens. Don’t let untrained workers cause unsafe conditions in our homes, businesses, and the buildings where our livestock reside.

 

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