Tobolski Watkins Engineering

Recent OSHPD Changes Can Help You!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

With OSHPD’s adoption of the 2016 California Building Code, a new round of changes has ushered in. However, change isn’t always bad, even with OSHPD. There are two new changes that reduce the number of test units required for manufacturers: 1. Materials of construction are no longer considered active, and 2. Electrical controllers, switches, transformers, circuit breakers, and fuses up to 10 lbs. or 10 amps are exempt from seismic certification requirements.

In the past, manufacturers were required to test a minimum of two units per material of active components (fan wheels, transformers, coils, etc.). Now, manufacturers can simply test the largest unit of each material. Construction needs to be virtually identical between the two materials (i.e. welded steel wheel and welded aluminum wheel, not welded steel wheel and bolted aluminum wheel). Lastly, the minimum of two test units requirement still applies to active components of only a single material. In that case, manufacturers are still required to test the largest and a smaller unit. All in all, this change is sure to reduce testing costs for manufacturers by reducing the number of test units.

The requirements for small electrical components have been somewhat of a roller coaster ride over the last few years. Initially, there wasn’t much consideration of these small parts in certification programs. More recently, all electrical components were required to be listed by model number and treated like any other active component (a minimum of two test units per manufacturer, mounting, material, and construction). Now, all electrical controllers, switches, transformers, circuit breakers and fuses under 10 lbs. or 10 amps are exempt from special seismic certification and listing in the documents. However, this does not mean that manufacturers can forego testing these components. Representative units must be tested to allow for functional testing and validation of the component mounting. The main benefit of this exemption is that although a certain manufacturer and/or model line has been tested and certified, similar components from different manufacturers or model lines can be substituted without additional testing, as long as the mounting and location of the component are equivalent to the test unit. For example, a control system manufacturer tests a 9 lb. Schneider Electric circuit breaker that is mounted with 4 screws to the back of a control box. The manufacturer can then substitute a similar GE circuit breaker that also mounts with 4 screws to the back of the control box.

We believe both of these changes are positive steps forward in the evolution of special seismic certification requirements. They reduce testing and test unit costs while still meeting the intent of the code, which is to ensure essential facilities can continue operate after an earthquake.