Hidden Dangers in Safe Tools
There are many tools specifically built for electricians. The best tools have the safety rating printed prominently right on the tool.
These tools are much safer for electrical work than standard tools because these tools have a special, insulating coating on them.
However this is also where the hidden danger is. As with so much else in life, there is no such thing as a perfect coating. The coating has to be hard and tough but, as things get hard and tough, they are also more likely to chip.
The very best coatings are relatively soft so that they can be flexible and resist damage. However they can still be damaged.
Repeated use of the tool will cause small nicks and scratches in the tool. These nicks and scratches then the insulating layer and lower the safety of the tool.
One of the real problems with electricians’ tools is tool belts. As screwdrivers and other tools are taken from and replaced in tool pouches they slide past each other. This can cause gouges and nicks as well. Plus the constant scraping can also thin the insulating layer even if there are no visible scratches or gouges.
These are very small nicks and scratches. Each nick or scratch makes the tool less safe however it is unlikely that a single scratch will make the tool dangerous to use.
The real problem comes from the fact that it is very hard to see these nicks and scratches. And, as with anything else, if something becomes familiar enough we quit looking at it.
The best practice is to go over your tools once a month. Just look at them under a good light and you will be able to see any nicks or scratches. If anything looks deep enough or big enough to be dangerous you should replace the tool.
Many companies and individual electricians replace the whole tool set annually. Admittedly this is a little bit expensive but the cost of any kind of electrical injury on the job is likely to be both horrible to the electrician and much, much more expensive for everyone involved.
Finally, tools deemed unsuitable for use should be destroyed. If they are not destroyed there is a real danger that someone will pick them up and use them without realizing the possible danger.
As a practical matter anything that damages the integrity of the insulating layer voids the warranty on the tool.
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