Posted on Sep 22, 2008
John M Grau
I received a letter today from an old colleague who now serves as chief staff executive of the Paris-based International Federation for Safety of Electricity Users, also known as FISUEL. The letter was about counterfeit electrical products.
My friend pointed out that counterfeit electrical products (defined as products non-compliant with standards) now account for 10% of world production, up from 7% in 2002. He noted that counterfeit goods can result in hazards to people and property, liability to contractors, distributors and inspection authorities, and unfair competition to legitimate manufacturers.
FISUEL is taking a leadership role in combating these threats on a global basis. In 2006 NECA, along with ten other electrical organizations worldwide, signed a FISUEL-developed agreement stating that we would work cooperatively to stamp out counterfeiting of electrical products.
I’m sure most NECA contractors aren’t that concerned about this issue. While they don’t condone counterfeiting, electrical contractors also don’t think this problem applies to them. After all, they buy materials and equipment through reputable distributors or direct from manufacturers. Even if the distributor sells them counterfeit goods, what can a legitimate electrical contractor do about it? Isn’t it someone else’s concern?
Well, we’re finding out that counterfeit goods are finding their way into the normal supply chain. And electrical contractors could be open to liability, even if they unknowingly install non-compliant products. So maybe it isn’t such a remote problem after all.
NECA’s role is to educate our members and other electrical contractors about the threat inherent in the purchase and installation of counterfeit products. We also will coordinate with other organizations in bringing this problem to the public’s attention.
To that end, the NECA Board of Governors is being asked to adopt a resolution at their meeting next month establishing our policies regarding counterfeit electrical products. In addition, we are sponsoring a special workshop during the convention addressing this problem and the issue of contractor liability.
It might all sound like motherhood and apple pie, but when you consider the implications, it’s a serious issue that deserves serious attention. Counterfeiting and piracy of all kinds cost the U.S. economy more than $200 billion per year. We need to do our part to put a stop to it.