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Work from home rears its ugly head – time to comment to UL almost up / Time to sign up for private meeting at ISC
March 1, 2024
Work from home rears its ugly head – time to comment to UL almost up 
          Every UL Standard that enters its review period is open for comment by the general public and specifically now for the 827 Central Station Standard which includes the "Work From Home" provisions for operators.
          So I want to make sure you are aware that there is a statement on UL's Collaborative Standards Development System (CSDS) site relevant to monitoring centers. The statement is focused on questioning the Permanent Work from Home aspects of UL 827. The statement is titled: "UL 827 Ed. 9 - Preliminary Review - Remove Permanent Work From Home."
          UL accepts comments from the public. If this is a topic of interest to your business, please feel free to submit your comment at <>.
          Anyone can create an account. Once you are in the system, click on "Work Areas" on the left-hand side menu, and then click on "Add view comments." Once on the next screen, you can read the currents and add yours by clicking on the top right hand, "Add a comment."
          The deadline for comments has been extended to midnight, March 4, 2024.
Bart A. Didden, President
U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp.
Port Chester, NY
Milford, CT
St. Paul, MN
          UL sets standards for the industry.  Many of these standards end up being the law in jurisdictions that adopt the UL standard.  Even if not enacted as law the UL standards go a long way influencing if not establishing “industry standard, custom and practice”.
          Central station operators working from home is a bad idea; it’s an idea that cannot possibly, in my opinion, have any benefit to the end user; and isn’t that who the industry is protecting and serving?  K&K has hosted webinars by the leading central stations. The only benefit I heard was helping the central station’s employee issue.  I heard no benefit to the end user; I heard no benefit to the alarm dealer.  Central stations are supposedly able to find operators more readily, so, the central station contents, means more operators watching the monitors.  I think this is highly suspect.
          Has any dealer received a call from the central station offering to reduce pricing because the central station’s costs have dropped?
          On the flip side I haven’t heard of operator failure from a work at home operator.  Have you?
          This is less a legal issue than business optics.  Until reliable statistics start developing showing increased operator error, or communication failure, attributed to remote operators, this is not likely to be an increase in liability issue.  We already know that some alarm customers suffer losses that they believe was caused by or contributed to by alarm equipment or alarm service failure.  A good percentage of these losses and claims point to the central station’s failure, usually because of operator error.  Sure communication failure is also a major contributor to alarm customer dissatisfaction, but blame cannot be laid at the central station’s door for that.  Adding points to the communication pathway, by adding operator homes, seems like an unnecessary added risk to me.  But, that is nothing by speculation and conjecture on my part; I’m not aware of statistics.
          I am aware of these undeniable statistics:
  *  there are far more dealers than central stations
  *  invariably dealers are required to indemnify their central station, including the central station’s negligence
  *  work from home benefits the central station more than the dealer or the end user
  *  in fact, dealer’s don’t seem to be experiencing any benefit for the work from home operators
          I haven’t read the UL standard for work from home.  I don’t have to; I’m not an alarm dealer or central station.  When there is a loss and the Plaintiff in the lawsuit claims the work from home operator messed up, then I’ll read the UL standard on the issue.
          What I end up reading depends on you.  You’ve got an opportunity to comment.  Unless UL is corrupt or irresponsible it will be preserving the comments, no matter how it decides.  Rest assured the Plaintiffs’ lawyers will be picking those comments apart, asking, “What right did you have to increase the risk to the Plaintiff, especially when you didn’t even tell the Plaintiff that operators where working from home instead of the fancy and secure central station you boasted about when selling the alarm system and service?”
          Let UL know what you think.  It’s not too late to create a record and influence the outcome.
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301