Let's sue Underwriter Labs

This is a followup to a previous post - maybe it will catch UL's attention before some infant gets electrocuted!! These lamps should be recalled immediately.
<I bought a portable lamp from Fred Meyers that is UL listed. It has <parallel metal rods extending up to the lamp from a base that contains a 120 <volt to 12 volt transformer that is not a listed Class 2 power supply. I <accidentally mashed the rods together and the lamp went out. I found an <open five ampere fuse in the base. I thought the wires went up inside the <small tubular bars but lo and behold, no! The bright metal parallel rods <are the conductors. I replaced the fuse and now this lamp sits on my desk <with exposed bright metal rods with 12 volts between them..
Here are the 2002 NEC Section being violated: 410.3 Live Parts.
Luminaires (fixtures), lampholders, and lamps shall have no live parts normally exposed to contact. Exposed accessible terminals in lampholders and switches shall not be installed in metal luminaire (fixture) canopies or in open bases of portable table or floor lamps.
Exception: Cleat-type lampholders located at least 2.5 m (8 ft) above the floor shall be permitted to have exposed terminals.
410.24 Conductor Insulation.
Luminaires (fixtures) shall be wired with conductors having insulation suitable for the environmental conditions, current, voltage, and temperature to which the conductors will be subjected.
FPN: For ampacity of luminaire (fixture) wire, maximum operating temperature, voltage limitations, minimum wire size, and so forth, see Article 402.
(30 volts or less)
411.5 Secondary Circuits.
(C) Bare Conductors. Exposed bare conductors and current-carrying parts shall be permitted. Bare conductors shall not be installed less than 2.1 m (7 ft) above the finished floor, unless specifically LISTED for a lower installation height.
There is no instructions on my lamp that says it can be less than 7 feet from the floor.
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One of the TV stations in Phoenix did a report on lead in glasses and pottery. The amount of product that was found was amazing. Mostly hand painted stuff and from south of the border. Imagine using plates where the paint on them contained lead. Gee we have known about that for years. My grandmother even told me never to eat off hand painted plates...
This is just another situation of buyer beware. You bought the item because it was ______ (insert reason). If you say price,,, well you get what you pay for, most of the time.
Real issue is with Fred Meyers, and the local authorities. Does the box contain a UL label? Call the TV stations and your attorney general.
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This is way off topic, but when I was a child, under 5 yrs, I had some dangerous forms of entertainment. I think the worst, was going around the house, and sticking my finger(s) in an available, open light socket! I enjoyed the "buzzing" feeling that traveled up my little arm. Thank God somebody, probably my Mother, forbade me to do it, because it is not a habit that's carried over into adulthood. To this day, I shudder when I think about it. Had I been grounded, in some way, I wouldn't be writing this reminiscent.
-Dennis

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Your assumption that this is a violation is a bit "iffy". While I don,t have the code books available (I,m a retired building inspector), I believe your references are for "structural" lightning (permanent) and not portable (lamp). The building codes also overlap. There may be another section of code for "residential" lightning that may contradict the code you just quoted.
It is up to the approving agency to decide what "chapter(s)" of codes will applicable to a particular design. For example, there are codes for buildings over 3 stories, codes for places of public assembly, and codes for open expanses... A large church may be allowed to ignore certain aspects of all three code parts.
Some other interesting points. 1) UL products are often counterfeited... 2) UL products are often sold not as presented at the time of certification. Companies are allowed to certify "parts" separately. For example, the power supply may have been certified but the installation never did. The UL sticker could be just on the power supply. 3) Legitimate companies can always get exemptions from any organization or government agency. (I personally do not see a hazard for bare 12v conduits...)
In the installation that you make mention, 12v is certainly safe and UL may have been happy to certify the installation if the power supply had some current limiting safety feature such as the transformer windings being a safe current limiter. If a direct short to the 120v AC side was made no substantial hazard exists. Typical, these types of scenarios ARE APPROVED.
I am also a A&P (airframe & powerplant mechanic). It may come as a surprise to you to learn that on some aircraft 400hz ac power is fed directly to fuel tank sensors without any insulation at the end (incidentally, the connections are IN THE FUEL - but that is another story...
JZ

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To calculate the probability of ventricular fibrillation perform the following: To determine the 5-s current flow (in mA) necessary to cause a 0.5% probability of ventricular-fibrillation, multiply a person's weight (in lb) by 0.49. To determine the 5-s current flow (in mA) necessary to cause a 99.5% probability of ventricular fibrillation, multiply a person's weight (in lb) by 1.47. (Reference: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of California.)
For an 8 pound infant, 1.47 x 8 = 11 ma
For 12 volts:
E = I x R
12 volts = .011 a x R
R = 12/.011
R = 1090 ohms
What is the resistance between the right and left hand for an 8 pound infant? This would put the current right across the heart.
From data in http://www.llnl.gov/es_and_h/hsm/doc_16.01/doc16-01.html#23appb the infant would likely die!

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Well, Gerald,
The manual that you referenced is simply wrong and is not supported by current electrical industry standards - I believe you may have helped write the manual referenced, am I correct?.
For example, the table purposes that 70ma of current is apt to result in death. May I suggest you go hold a 150ma "D" sized flash light battery between your two fingers to discover the preposterous nature of these claims?
Now, if you want to see what kind of electrical shock IS needed, I suggest you look at a heart defibulator - it uses mega joules of energy!
While your suing UL, why don't you also take on the audio industry for having bare terminals behind audio speaker cabinets. Some of them are puting out several amps at 1-2V and according to your table referenced earlier, we should be seeing children dropping like flies from touching them while mommy vacuums.
I'm guessing, but perhaps you are a government worker who has helped write a perposterious electrical safety manual with little merit and are now trying to defend the copious amounts of practical applications that are contrary to the publication; am I wrong?
JZ

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May I suggest that you obtain the original Charles Dalziel papers published in the early 1940's in the AEEI journals and study them for yourself. I did about 10 years ago and still have copies. I think he probably did more work in this area than you or I will ever do.

Did you know that could take just a few microamperes to electrocute an infant or a person on an operating table? My claim is these lamps are dangerous to infants, not adults. These lamps may be used by mothers that bathe their babies in Kitchen sinks. When Charles Dalziel did his original work he used animals for electrocution and young adults for let go current. We have little data on infants. Dalziel used pigs, dogs, goats, horses and cows to experiment with. But no one that I know of has done experiments with infants for obvious reasons.

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I am not a government worker, but have been doing electrical work since 1963. I was, however, a State Inspector for 8 years.
UL has on many occasions listed equipment that violates the NEC. UL needs to do a NEC Code review of products before listing them. They also need to police their UL stickers. While inspecting the $500 million Red Dog Mine 70 miles north of Kotzebue, Alaska in 1989 most of the equipment was not listed. This included switchgear and motor control centers. On the next trip, all the equipment was listed without UL knowing about it. The contractor had gotten UL labels and glued them to the equipment. When I told UL about it they asked me to investigate. It was their problem and they did nothing about it. The State would not pay for another trip because it cost about $2,000 to go there.
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And that same baby can droned in the kitchen sink! Lets sue the plumber that installed the sink! The manufacture of that sink! And charge the mother for murder who put that baby in that sink!

write
May I suggest that you obtain the original Charles Dalziel papers published in the early 1940's in the AEEI journals and study them for yourself. I did about 10 years ago and still have copies. I think he probably did more work in this area than you or I will ever do.

Did you know that could take just a few microamperes to electrocute an infant or a person on an operating table? My claim is these lamps are dangerous to infants, not adults. These lamps may be used by mothers that bathe their babies in Kitchen sinks. When Charles Dalziel did his original work he used animals for electrocution and young adults for let go current. We have little data on infants. Dalziel used pigs, dogs, goats, horses and cows to experiment with. But no one that I know of has done experiments with infants for obvious reasons.

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I am not a government worker, but have been doing electrical work since 1963. I was, however, a State Inspector for 8 years.
UL has on many occasions listed equipment that violates the NEC. UL needs to do a NEC Code review of products before listing them. They also need to police their UL stickers. While inspecting the $500 million Red Dog Mine 70 miles north of Kotzebue, Alaska in 1989 most of the equipment was not listed. This included switchgear and motor control centers. On the next trip, all the equipment was listed without UL knowing about it. The contractor had gotten UL labels and glued them to the equipment. When I told UL about it they asked me to investigate. It was their problem and they did nothing about it. The State would not pay for another trip because it cost about $2,000 to go there.
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<snip>

Yes, perhaps so. But so is an opened bottle of aspirin. There are many things that are not particularly dangerous for adults that are dangerous for children. Are you suggesting that UL should only approve things that are safe for infants as well as adults?? How would they ever list a power saw??

Surely then it would be plugged into a GFCI protected circuit :-) Yes, parents sometimes do stupid things and put their children at risk. Unfortunately, children don't come with an owners/operators manual. Isn't this a bit like using a UL listed device such as an ordinary vacumn cleaner outdoors in thunderstorm? UL can't protect people from that kind of misapplication any more than using a portable lamp next to a kitchen sink.

electrocution
So your calculations for fibrillation of 8 lb infants is an extrapolation of data for adults that *may* be right, or it *may* be completely wrong. You don't know?
daestrom
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<snip>

<snip>
One problem....a 1.5volt (DC by the way) batter will not develop 150ma when you touch it. Your resistance is too high. Milliamps can cause death. Now, I have not checked his table, but his claims are not preposterous as you claim. I checked several sources (online and in references that I have) and all put the limit for ventricular fibrillation at between 50 and 100 milliamps.
Charles Perry P.E.
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All the electronics text that I have seen put "100ma can be fatal IF APPLIED DIRECTLY ACROSS THE HEART". I have yet to find a product user that is concerned with lighting a room while he is having open heart surgery.
This discussion was started by an Alaska State Inspector who failed to use common sense. I was an Alaska Municipal Safety Inspector for 21 years and was never surprised to see folks duck and run after running into a gentlemen such as Mr. Newton after misapplied code enforcement.
I believe Mr. Newton's supervisor came to his senses when Mr. Newton suggested spending another $2000 worth of precious taxpayer resources on UL sticker enforcement - whew! I sure am glad the supervisor denied his trip.
The fact is that mouse's ears connected with alligator clips across a 12v car battery is not going to harm anything other than the animal rights groups! Now the same mouse connected with the clips on each side of its heart is going to have bigger problems than the electric shock (like whether it OD's on morpheme - you are going to sedate it?).
I do not expect the government to protect me from products on the assumption that I have big gaping holes in my chest; I really doubt I would live through a glass of water poured into a chest wound - but I still drink the tap water :-)
In summary, Mr. Newton trolled for an example to his own personally written document as support of his claim and both are POPPYCOCK!
Apparently Mr. Newton has any qualms in his Government Agency requiring adherence to a private organization (UL) with an unfettered monopoly that has no criteria for code enforcement other self anointment. By the way, there are Federal laws that prohibit a Govt. Agency supporting a monopoly so perhaps Mr. Newton should write himself a violation for attempting a business to submit to private regulator...
Good luck on the law suit!
JZ

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Let me repeat this very slowly... THE CODE REFERENCES YOU ARE USING ARE FOR PERMANENT INSTALLATIONS - NOT PRODUCT DESIGN... Again, you make reference to hospital setting which is not pertinent to a residential user. This is why reason (hospital vs. consumer) hospital equipment is required to have physical isolation to the supply. This is usually accomplished by opto isolators.
The hospital setting assumes patients that can not move away from danger, may be around explosive gases such as O2, and have large amounts of fluids - i.e. ringers lactate (salt) or body waste.
So far as I know, UBC, NFPA, and NEC (the codes I enforced) have never applied to product design. The one thing that you and I agree on is the need for government regulation of product design - at least in theory. The problem with actually carrying it out would be that lobbyist would water any agency down to the point of being useless. After all, if we allow tobacco companies to sell their products, what are a few electrocutions in the scheme of things?
Perhaps however, I misunderstood your motives to be argumentative. If you really are interested in the electronic aspects of this, and the current laws I would be happy to call you by telephone or have you call me (Seattle-360-240-9965).
I am very concerned that folks on this list may be left with an unfavorable impression that Safety Inspectors go by the letter of the law and not introduce some "benefit vs. safety" reasoning with enforcement.
As one of the other gentlemen commented, life is full of hazards. NOTHING IS SAFE!The FAA got so far out of hand that Congress passed a law in about 1985 that requires them to do a public cost analysis before enforcing safety regulations - and for good reason. People have died from eating peanuts on airplanes, but is the hazard so high as to outweigh the benefits? Apparently the FAA saw the light and feels that a few people choking to death on peanuts is worth the convenience.
On the same note, probably somewhere someone has died from a 6v lantern battery. But does taking it off the market out weigh the benefit? Apparently not!
What I have always thought to be the best answer is for product manufactures to print hazard information. For example, drinking a can of beer causes adverse reaction in 1:xxxx people, death in 1:xxxx people; then let people decide if the hazard is worth it. The US then should set criteria for products. XXXXX (insert product), would be illegal if 1:xxxxx people died. Of course this would set a reasonable value to life and bring accountability so many lawyers would be out of work.
Lets choose home appliances (lamps?). A product could not go to market if 1:25,000 people annually where injured by it, or 1:100,000 died. Naturally drugs and other products (Mc Donald's?) would have their numbers set as appropriate. The, Fire, Police, and Hospitals already keep this data so enforcement would be a no brainier. But wait; the lawyers would have less cases and so I guess this is a bad idea after all! Marijuana would probably be considered "safe" and cigarettes outlawed - opps that won't work!
JZ

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*IF* these sections of the code applied to appliances instead of just permanent wiring, then Lionel, Tyco and all the other 'Electric Toy' manufacturers are in for it. Surely you've seen the bare terminal studs from a toy train transformer and the bare rails of a toy train track. These sometimes go has high as 15VDC. That's 125% of your light!!!! Uh oh... more dead babies (despite the warnings now required on the boxes about age appropriateness and parental supervision) And who in their right mind would put toy train tracks 7ft above the floor?
BTW, my old Lionel toy train transformer (circa 1950's) as well as my son's (circa 1990's) are both UL listed.
Further proof that anyone can read a book, but not everyone can apply the knowledge found therein. People like yourself are the reason the regulations have to get bigger and bigger, to clarify what the panel thought was clear. But then someone like you came along and showed everyone how to interpret things so badly that the need for more language is required.
daestrom
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On Sun, 04 Apr 2004 08:15:05 GMT snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
| The manual that you referenced is simply wrong and is not supported by | current electrical industry standards - I believe you may have helped write | the manual referenced, am I correct?. | | For example, the table purposes that 70ma of current is apt to result in | death. May I suggest you go hold a 150ma "D" sized flash light battery | between your two fingers to discover the preposterous nature of these | claims?
Let me suggest that you do the following for your "Death by D cell":
Weld large solid copper conductors to each end of the D cell. The other end of each conductor is welded to all copper cylinders with one side closed and the other side open. The cylinders are large enough to contain your arms and the open side lets you insert your arms. Fill the containers with very salty water. Now insert your arms and grab the insides of the containers for even better contact.
| Now, if you want to see what kind of electrical shock IS needed, I suggest | you look at a heart defibulator - it uses mega joules of energy!
For a very very short pulse of time so that it sets up a counter reaction in the heart's "electronics".
--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Phil Howard KA9WGN | http://linuxhomepage.com/ http://ham.org/ |
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

<snip>
It is your rebuttal that is preposterous, not the claim. It fails, on at least 2 counts: 1) A D cell has 12000 mAh capacity. It can easily source several amps, and it is preposterous to call it 'a 150ma "D" sized' battery. See http://www.techlib.com/reference/batteries.html
2) Holding such a battery between two fingers will draw no where near 150 mA. Even if we use the low value of an infants skin resistance suggested in this thread - about 1000 ohms - the current drawn would be 1.5 mA, NOT 150 mA.
Try again.
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And I suppose that a 8lb infant can reach up and touch said fixture?!?

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