Why Should You Use Insulated Tools?

blog author iconColton Rossiter
date icon2023 / 05 / 12
blog views icon78
Why Should You Use Insulated Tools?

Insulated tools are designed to reduce the risk of electric shock, electrocution, and arc flash.

NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 require the use of insulated tools as part of electrical safety equipment.

When working on or near energized equipment, the use of insulated tools will greatly reduce the risk of injury to workers, as well as damage to equipment.

Insulated Tools for Electrical Work

Although insulated and insulating hand tools offer shock and arc flash protection for the worker, they are considered secondary protection, and they do not eliminate electrical hazards.

Putting electrical equipment in a verified de-energized state, referred to as an electrically safe working condition should always be the first priority.




How Do Insulated Tools Protect from Shock and Arc Flash?

If a non-insulated tool is being used during live work and it contacts an energized circuit part, current will travel through the tool directly to the worker.

Insulated tools have a specially designed insulated layer to prevent direct contact with energized parts.

When a non-insulated tool is dropped in a live electrical enclosure or piece of equipment, it is very possible that a phase-over could result and an arc would occur.

Not only would the worker be exposed to injury, but the equipment being worked on would sustain serious damage.

Insulated tools reduce this risk because most of the tool is covered with an insulating material.

How Do Insulated Tools Protect from Shock and Arc Flash

How Do You Know If a Tool Is Insulated?

Manufacturers are required to include the following information on each insulated tool:

  • Double triangle logo;
  • Voltage rating;
  • Manufacturer’s name;
  • Where the tool was made;
  • When it was made;
  • Part number.

How Do You Know If a Tool Is Insulated?

How to Maintain Your Insulated Tools?

It is important to properly maintain your insulated tools so that they are able to protect you from shock hazard. Improperly maintained tools will lose their protection from damage, wear and tear.

Here are some helpful practices to keep your insulated tools in proper working order:

  • Keep them away from moisture, which can greatly reduce the tools insulating properties.
  • Avoid solvents and cleaners that could damage insulating layers.
  • Never toss the tools into toolboxes or bags with other sharp tools.

How to Maintain Your Insulated Tools?

It is important to note that the insulated layers of these tools are not going to last forever.

It is good practice to visually inspect your insulated tools before each use.

Any small cracks, nicks, cuts, or other damage to the insulating layer could prove to be fatal.

In some cases, the tool will have a color-coded multilayer system, so that it is easy to tell when a tool is damaged.

When Should You Use Insulated Tools?

NFPA 70E 130.7 states that tools and handling equipment used within the restricted approach boundary shall be insulated.

NFPA 70E lists the restricted approach boundary distances in table 130.4 shown below.

When Should You Use Insulated Tools?

What About My Rubber Gloves?

Rubber insulating gloves are required to be used with insulated tools. One is not a substitute for the other.

NFPA 70E and CSA Z462 addresses the need for both rubber insulating gloves and insulated hand tools.

Rubber Insulated Gloves

Rubber insulating gloves and insulated hand tools are vital components of a successful arc flash PPE system and must be used in conjunction to provide the maximum protection for workers and the equipment being worked on.

Always be sure to select electrical safety gloves with the proper voltage rating for the task at hand.

The worker should perform a visual inspection and an air inflation test before each use.

Why Insulated Tools are Important?

If you know anyone who would benefit from this information, feel free to share it with them. And if you have any questions about insulated tools, don't hesitate to reach out to me at colton.rossiter@leafelectricalsafety.com.

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