Electricians often must work in close
proximity to energized lines or components, and, in such situations, insulated
tools are required to provide protection
if a tool should come in contact with an
energized source, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) 1910.335(a)( 2)(i).
The National Fire Protection Asso-
ciation (NFPA) 70E standard addresses
safety when working around exposed,
energized circuits, and complying with
its provisions will result in compliance
with OSHA regulations. These standards
provide effective guidelines for safety.
Local codes also may apply.
Many hand tools have cushioned grips
that could be mistaken for insulation.
Genuine insulated tools are identified
with the international 1,000-volts (V)
rating symbol, certifying they have been
individually subjected to 10,000V. Insulated tools are available individually or
packaged in kits.
Nathan Buckert, product manager,
Ideal Industries, Sycamore, Ill., said
several agencies participate in the
design and performance criteria for
“In the U.S., the best-known and
probably the most stringent enforcement
criteria, is Underwriters Laboratories
[UL], which requires each individual
tool be tested to 10,000V to achieve a
1,000V rating; that’s a 10-to- 1 safety factor,” he said. “Other agencies around the
world, such as VDE, ANSI/ASME, ISO
and ASTM, contribute to standards for
design criteria, but may not require 100
percent individual testing.
“Insulation is a function of the type,
thickness, design and maintenance of
the plastic insulation encapsulating each
tool. Quality ranges from dipped vinyl to
high-pressure, injection-molded, dual-durometer, Santoprene thermoplastic
resins,” Buckert said.
The material, by itself, isn’t enough to
achieve a safe insulation. Safe design also
is a factor in the insulation attributes of a
“Most manufacturers of insulated
hand tools have moved away from
dipped vinyl to injection-molded insu-
lation,” Buckert said. “Dipping a tool
in liquid vinyl is something of an art;
every tool drips the liquid off differ-
COOLTOOLS BY JEFF GRIFFIN
Ideal insulated tools in pouch
Klein insulated tools
SAFETY PRACTICES dictate that power lines and equipment must be de-energized before electricians can work on them. Only qualified people are
permitted to work on live circuits under special circumstances, and they must
use proper safety protection and equipment, which includes insulated tools.