Sparks Electrical News May 2019
E L E C T R I C A L N E W S www.sparkselectricalnewsmagazine.co.za
REGULARS: CONTRACTORS’ CORNER | BUYERS' GUIDE : ENERGY EFFICIENCY | FEATURES : DB'S, SWITCHES, SOCKETS AND PROTECTION | ENERGY EFFICIENCY | LIGHTING | INDUSTRY 4.0
IS THE NRCS LIVING UP TO ITS MANDATE?
T he rumblings of discontent surrounding the role of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) in the electri- cal industry continue to grow. Established on 1 September 2008, under the auspices of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifi- cations Act (NRCS Act), Act 5 of 2008, the industry body emerged as an independent organisation from the original Regulatory Division of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). The mandate of the NRCS is to regulate the adherence to compulsory specifications and technical regulations in South Africa. This regulatory function address- es flaws in the market system whereby businesses may produce, im- port or sell products or services that may harm the consumer and/ or the environment or may fall short of what is promised in terms of quantity or safety. But is the NRCS living up to its mandate to administer and maintain compulsory specifications, and carry out market surveillance through inspection in order to monitor compliance with compulsory specifications? A quick Google search will lead you to numerous complaints regarding the NRCS on HelloPeter, an online customer service site. “Reports that the NRCS destroys substandard goods are nonsense. In our business we have to check the competition regularly. All substandard goods are still for sale and they do nothing but ruin small and medium – very responsible companies – this is a totally useless organisation,” notes one entry, “Who is adding to unemployment? The NRCS – we had to lay off four employees, all breadwinners, because of them,” says another. Complaints range from lack of communication and the LOA application process to incompetence. Yet it is not just the electrical industry that is up in arms regarding the role of the NRCS. According to Forestry South Africa, wood treaters are asking a host of questions about the role of the NRCS. Bruce Breedt, the Executive Director of the South African Wood Preservers Association, notes that NRCS inspectors have the right to enter and search any premises where items are being produced, sold, used, imported/exported. “But as stated by the NRCS themselves, product inspection and testing is not their main focus.” An article on Daily Maverick, from back in 2011, highlighted that, despite its mandate to enforce specifications and ensure public safety, the NRCS says it has no grounds to take action against dangerous electrical products on sale almost everywhere in South Africa. As commonly used electricity distribution devices, portable socket- outlets and multi-plug adapters are regulated and must comply with VC 8008, 2010, the compulsory specification for plugs, socket-outlets
and socket-outlet adapters administered by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications. This requires mandatory compliance with the South African National Standard SANS IEC 60884-1, 2006: Plugs and socket-outlets for household and similar purposes: General requirements; and in particular with Clause 10: Protection against electric shock. However, operating on a tip-off, a number of non- conforming products were purchased from a number of major retail outlets and tested. A cursory inspection and some basic tests using a
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