Electrical Testing
Tip of the Week: What can you learn from the NEC’s Annex H? — Part 7

Tip of the Week: What can you learn from the NEC’s Annex H? — Part 7

Section 80.23 of the annex explains how contractors are notified of violations and penalties.

Section 80.23 provides the requirements for how you, as the contractor, are to be notified of violations and penalties. The idea is to give you some due process rights. An inspector can’t just tell you verbally, “I don’t like the way this raceway is run” and then go back to his office to crank out the penalty notices.

The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) must provide a written notice of the violations [80.23(A)(1)]. If you’ve been cooperating with the AHJ, you will already have been informed verbally. And in that spirit of cooperation, you should already be working to remedy the situation. That makes the notice pro forma, and the paperwork will end up showing that you took corrective action to comply.

There are penalties, however, for failing to comply with the Code or violating any condition attached to a permit, approval, or certificate.

Abatement notices and compliance notices have time limits. You need to comply within that limit; if you don’t, then for each day a given violation continues after the limit, it’s a new and separate offense [80.23(B)(2). This gets to be expensive and can lead to legal repercussions such as a misdemeanor conviction [80.23(B)(3)].

An inspector might not understand that correcting a given violation will require more time. Or you might not realize this. As soon as you receive a notice, determine the time required to correct the deficiencies. If the notice doesn’t provide enough time, explain to the AHJ what the problems are and see what accommodation can be made.

For example, an AHJ may be very understanding and extend the compliance time while waiving the penalty. This probably isn’t going to be a freebie; the AHJ may leave other stipulations in place. For example, the original notice requires you to cease operations because of the hazards involved, so the accommodation will still require that. You’re just getting the penalties removed because of the circumstances.

Of course, if you’ve been difficult and shown an uncooperative attitude, an AHJ is not going to waive the penalties regardless of the circumstances.

An electrical inspector in Massachusetts had given a verbal notice to a builder about the lack of a ground wire being pulled with the other circuit conductors in the raceway. The inspector said he’d come back in a week and if everything was fine, he would not even write a notice. He came back, and sure enough there were green wires in the raceways he checked.

He pulled on one wire and it came out; it was only about four inches long inside the raceway. Same thing, several times. Do you think this contractor got any leeway from this inspector? An extreme case, but it shows the kind of attitude that you don’t want to take.

You do have due process protections, but they aren’t there to give you more time to ignore the requirements. They are there to give you time to comply with the requirements.

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