Contractors: You could be liable for non-compliant cable installation

This is the third in a series of posts about counterfeit and substandard cable.

Earlier this year, the CCCA (Communications Cable and Connectivity Association) commissioned a white paper after it tested cables from offshore manufacturers and found that many failed to comply with fire safety specifications. It found that many of the cables are made from low-fire performing materials making them highly combustible. This means trouble for contractors.

The paper was commissioned from the law firm of Crowell Moring to look at potential liability for contractors who install communications cables that do not comply with NEC (National Electrical Code) requirements.

In the white paper, Crowell Moring studied the laws in Connecticut, Virginia, and Florida.  Because each state incorporates NEC into its building codes, a violation of those codes is a state violation. Crowell Moring explains, “Any installed cable that fails to meet the NEC standards, whether known, apparent, or not, opens a contractor up to penalties for those failures.”

The paper concludes that contractors who install CMR or CMP cable may face liability based on violations of building codes. If a contractor installs non-compliant cable that causes damage, such as a fire, the contractor can also be held liable in civil lawsuits.

The paper states that “A contractor need not have actual knowledge that the cable is non-compliant to be found negligent. If a contractor knew it installed non-compliant cable, but said it was compliant, the contractor can be charged with fraud. And lastly, if a contractor installs non-compliant cable, either knowingly or unknowingly, the contractor is liable for breach of contract and warranty claims.”

As a contractor you may face exposure to legal liability. The white paper says you can avoid this liability by carefully, “selecting, purchasing, and installing cable that complies with NEC standards.”  In addition to the white paper, information on non-compliant cables and best practices for purchasing compliant cables can be found at the CCCA website.

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