Thousands of accidents and injuries occur every year due to improper handling of electrical equipment. This is why it's necessary to use insulated tools when working on electrical systems; they're designed to protect you from electric shock, burns, and other hazards.
In this guide, we'll explore insulated tools, discussing their benefits, how they work, and why they should be a staple in every electrician's toolbox.
Understanding Insulated Tools:
When it comes to working with electricity, safety should always be the priority. Insulated tools are covered in a special insulating material designed to protect you from electric hazards and arc flashes that could cause severe injury or even death.
There are various insulated tools available, each designed for specific tasks. For example, lineman's pliers are great for cutting, bending, and gripping wires, while diagonal cutters are perfect for cutting wires. Needle-nose pliers are great for bending, re-positioning, and snipping wires. Tongue-and-groove pliers have a slip joint design that allows them to grip larger objects. Wire strippers are essential for stripping the insulation from electric wires, and you'll also need a variety of slotted and Phillips screwdrivers for driving or removing screws.
It's vital to note that insulated tools are not regular tools with extra rubber on the handles or a generic coating on the tool end. They're designed to protect workers from electrical shock up to 1000 V AC and 1500 V DC, so you're always safe while working on any electrical equipment.
How Insulated Tools Work:
For many insulated tools, insulation starts at the tip of the shaft and continues to the back of the handle, providing protection in case of accidental contact with any charge. According to the ASTM standards, these tools must be completely dielectric up to 1000 V AC, meaning that no part of the insulation will conduct electricity if it comes into contact with voltage up to that level.
The materials used to make insulated tools are carefully chosen for their ability to resist electricity and provide a safe barrier between the user and the electrical current. The most common materials include porcelain, mica, paper, teflon, plastic, rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ceramic, and glass. The choice of material depends on the specific tool and its intended use.
Choosing the Right Insulated Tools:
When considering buying insulated tools, there are several important factors to keep in mind:
- Opt for a reliable tool manufacturer: Choose a reputable manufacturer to ensure your tools meet the necessary standards.
- Prioritize a secure grip: It's essential to choose an insulated tool that provides a solid and secure grip to prevent any accidents or mishaps while in use.
- Compare warranties: Be sure to compare warranties and how they are handled before making a final decision.
- Understand the insulation process: Insulated tools are typically more expensive than their counterparts due to the complex and time-consuming process each tool undergoes to provide complete user protection against electrical shock.
- Certification standards: To be certified as insulated tools, they must undergo rigorous testing by third-party labs to prove that the protection works and the tools can withstand hard use, extreme temperatures, and even live flame.
Proper Care and Maintenance of Insulated Tools:
Taking proper care of your insulated tools can help prolong their lifespan and ensure they work safely and effectively. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid exposing your tools to moisture.
- Steer clear of solvents and cleaners that could damage the insulating layers.
- Store your insulated tools properly.
- Inspect your tools before each use.
- Keep your tools clean, dry, and free from contaminants.
To avoid common mistakes, make sure to:
- Never touch any un-insulated part of the tool.
- Keep insulated tools away from sharp objects like utility knives.
- Regularly clean and maintain your insulated tools.
- Don't use a tool with cracked, cut, perforated, or damaged insulation.
Working with electricity requires prioritising safety. Insulated tools are crucial for protecting against electric shock and burns and ensuring efficient operations of electrical systems. Choose reliable manufacturers, prioritise a secure grip, and maintain your tools properly to prolong their lifespan. By using insulated tools and prioritising safety, you can reduce the risk of electrical accidents and create a safer work environment.