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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Counterfeit Electrical Products

Counterfeit electrical products, such as circuit breakers and electrical panels, can cause a building to go up in flames. Hear how to spot the counterfeits.

Not just consumer products. There are fake electrical products now at the very heart of electrical safety in building construction. Wiring, infrastructure and switches—which detect a fault condition and interrupt current flow—are all being counterfeited and sold at hard-to-believe prices.

In this podcast, Dan Clark explores the danger of counterfeits, and how to spot them.


intro music and effects

Dan Clark: When you buy a fake watch or bootleg DVD, your business doesn’t burn down. But, if you buy counterfeit electrical products, it can.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Many electrical products are counterfeited, fooling the experts. And I don’t mean just consumer products. I’m talking serious safety equipment at the center of any building’s operations.

SquareD circuit breaker examples from The Consumer Product Safety Commission

• Circuit breakers
• 3-phase electrical panels
• Lighting
• Wiring
• Power strips


• Counterfeit electrical products are usually of lower quality. They don’t go through the rigorous testing. Sometimes they don’t go through ANY testing.

• They can overheat and cause short-circuits.

• They can cause shocks, fires and explosions, posing a real risk of damage to property and people.

• On occasion, these electrical products are discovered before they’re installed, but often they’re caught after the fact when the problem arises.


Contractors say distributors should catch the fakes, but distributors say contractors are better equipped to do so. At least, that’s according to a survey by ESFI, the Electrical Safety Foundation International. While the debate rages, one thing is for sure: We aren’t doing a very good job of catching these fakes.

NOW WHAT? Employers and workers, you should:

• Avoid any product with no logo or brand affiliation, but beware of faked logos. Some labeling is so authentic experts are fooled.

• Avoid any product with typos or grammatical errors in the packaging.

• Avoid any product without contact information for the manufacturer on the package.

• Watch out for recalls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission gives information about recalls.

So, counterfeit electrical products are a no-win for anyone. They pose a risk for the workers who install them, maintenance workers, anyone who might perform other work in the building, and even the general public. So keep an eye peeled for the counterfeits.

That’s it for this episode on Counterfeit Electrical Products. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% on your entire order at with coupon code SAFETYBRIEF.


Counterfeit warning video from ESFI:

Counterfeits Can Kill video from ESFI

“counterfeit electrical” image © ℗ 2007-2012 Voltimum UK (counterfeit-kills)

SquareD circuit breaker image from The Consumer Product Safety Commission

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