Let’s face it: regulations and industry standards can take a long time to read and understand. But as long-winded as they are, they don’t provide details about every possible workplace safety or environmental scenario. While compliance with regulations and standards should always be your intent, there is often room for interpretation. That’s why some regulations and industry standards specifically state that the “authority having jurisdiction” (AHJ) has the final say about the solutions that you already use or intend to use.
The tricky part is that the AHJ isn’t just one person or office — it can vary. For example, for a fire safety issue, the AHJ may be a fire marshal. For a structural issue, the AHJ may be a building code inspector. For a health or public safety issue, it may be an emergency management agency director or health department. Other possible AHJs include utility companies, equipment inspectors and zoning departments.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines AHJ as “An organization, office or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation or a procedure.” In this regard, the AHJ is likely to be a county or local governing office that provides specifications for projects or approves design drawings, issues permits, performs final inspections and/or enforces code compliance.
Because the appropriate AHJ varies with the situation, no single resource lists all possible AHJs. But you’ll narrow your search by first placing your situation into one of the following categories:
- Building Structural
- Natural Gas
- Building Accessibility
- Food Service
- Public Health and Welfare
- Emergency Situations
- Environmental Harm
If your community still has a published telephone directory, the blue pages will list the contact information for local government agencies (such as fire marshals and code inspectors) that you can match to your scenario to determine the AHJ. Most county agencies also have online information as well. If neither of these options suffice, try contacting your county commissioner’s office. Because county commissioners work with practically all of the local governing bodies, they should be able to point you in the right direction.