Find the Fakes

May 2019 Cover

It has been more than a decade since ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR partnered with tED magazine to run a special campaign raising awareness of counterfeit electrical products. Dangerous fakes are still being manufactured and purchased. The counterfeiters have gotten craftier, and now, consumers looking for a bargain are buying online.

This issue is an update, of sorts, on the counterfeits problem, and it starts with Chuck Ross explaining that electrical products, themselves, might not be fakes. Instead, they might be genuine products that have been fraudulently labeled or packaged. This can be a major problem for ECs, if a circuit breaker bears a label for a higher voltage rating than it can actually handle.

In his Fire Focus, Wayne D. Moore reminds contractors that you are seen as the expert, and you’re responsible if something goes wrong in a fire alarm system that you installed. You know you have to be very careful about the products you use, but Wayne also provides some tips for identifying a counterfeit electrical product. Did you know all of that?

Identifying counterfeits was the impetus for our cover design this month (above). Suggested by our publisher’s husband, Jared Stern, the idea landed with our designer, Paul Philpott, who ran with it. Then we asked him to crank it up to 11.

Did you spot all the indications of counterfeiting? Did you notice the misspellings, the inconsistencies, the damage that indicates poor packaging and handling, cover price (we’re worth way more than that, you know)? It was a neat idea that offered the opportunity for us to play a meta-game. Compare the image of the fake to the actual product above.

Of course, spotting counterfeits in the real world isn’t nearly this easy or fun.

In “Detecting Electrical Skullduggery," Mark Ode reminds us that homeowners generally don’t have an EC’s expertise, so the EC needs to ensure the products they are installing are legitimate and safe. As Jim Romeo writes in his Technology column, the upshot is electrical contractors can’t afford to risk purchasing any product that is fake or counterfeit, which makes it a perfect topic to cover during National Electrical Safety Month.

Oh, did you think we forgot about that? Never!

On the topic of safety, Susan Bloom talked to several contractors that are making safety a priority. Read “Safe Bet” to measure how your company’s safety program is doing and perhaps get a few tips. In “Smart Safety,” Claire Swedberg reminds ECs that safety management is a great source of recurring revenue.

Mike Johnston and Wes Wheeler provide a brief history of OSHA, from its founding in 1970 until the present. While many standards are the same, much has changed due to technology and OSHA’s growing influence.

Jeff Gavin introduces us to something new: LEDs as a disinfectant technology in “Sanitizing Light.” Experts think this lighting could be everywhere in the future. That sounds like opportunity for electrical contractors to us.

With the advent of summer, Bill Atkinson writes about strategies for avoiding heat-related illnesses. Read “Staying Cool” for more on that.

Between the counterfeits coverage and the safety features, this is a really good issue. We hope you find something in here that helps keep someone on the job or occupying a building safe.

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