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Frequently Asked Questions

Insulated Tool History

The first patent for an insulated tool was in 1907 by George E. Wood, who was already known for rubber removable tool coverings. Insulated tools are often used by electricians to protect themselves from electrocution, burns, and shocks. The plastic or rubber coating on insulated tools prevents the electrician from becoming a path to ground if the tool comes into contact with an energized conductor. Many tools today have a double layer of insulation to ensure backup protection.

Insulated tools are made by dipping the tool in an insulation coating and curing it, or through injection molding. Insulated tools are tested at 10,000V and provide user protection for up to 1000V. Many tools must be certified by the ASTM F1505 and/or VDE, and must also bear the proper stamps of approval. 

Why do I need insulated tools?

When working in close proximity to exposed energized equipment or working on live electrical circuits, it’s necessary to protect not only the worker but also the equipment that is being worked on. Rubber insulating gloves and insulated hand tools are vital components of a successful PPE system and should be used in conjunction with each other to provide maximum protection for the worker.

It's common to perform a task on de-energized equipment that is locked out and tagged out while still being within the shock boundary and in close proximity to other live equipment. In this case, a worker could accidentally lose control of a tool which could then make contact with live parts. If non-insulated hand tools were being used in this scenario it is very possible that a phase over could result and an arc flash would occur. Not only would the worker be exposed to injury, but the equipment in close vicinity to this would sustain serious damage resulting in costly repairs, replacement, or downtime.

Tools with plastic coatings or plastic handles are not suitable when “live” circuits are close to the task at hand. Employees should only consider the use of insulated tools that are marked with the official international 1000-volt for this type of work.

The double-triangle marking is the international symbol that identifies tools as safe for energized work. This symbol must be marked on all truly insulated hand tools. These insulated hand tools have a maximum use rating of 1000 VAC and must be dielectrically tested at 10,000 VAC, this equates to a safety margin factor of 10. These tools also meet or exceed current ASTM F1505-10 and IEC 900 Standards for Insulated Hand Tools and are necessary for compliance with the CSA Z462-12 Standards. While insulating hand tools are designed foremost to offer shock protection for the worker, they are considered secondary protection.

How do I clean and maintain my tools?


Use and maintenance of insulated tools are beyond the scope of the existing standards and specifications. You should use insulated tools for their intended applications only; for example, screwdrivers should not be used to pry or chisel. You should never modify or alter a tool from its original design. For instance, cutting back the insulation on a socket for use in tight spaces could in fact expose the worker to injury.

Because moisture, films, or other surface contaminants are conductive, insulated tools must be kept clean, dry, and free of any surface contaminants. The cleaning of insulated tools can be accomplished by using the same specialty concentrated detergent used to remove oils, grease and dirt from rubber insulated gloves. The important thing to remember when using cleaning agents is to ensure the agent does not contain any chemicals which may harm or lessen the protective value of the insulating coating. The ultimate goal is to get a residue free surface after cleaning and maintaining the insulation integrity of the tool.

Insulated hand tools should be stored properly to minimize the risk of damage to the insulation. Avoid storing in proximity to sources of heat such as radiators, furnaces, and steam pipes.

The barrier material used to produce insulating tools is impact-resistant and flame retardant and there is no re-certification process for insulated tools. Inspect all tools before use and discard tools that show any signs of visible damage. The ASTM F1505 standard allows for both single and double layer coatings. If double layer coatings are used, they should be of contrasting colors.
Overlapping two-color insulated tools make inspection easier which adds to overall safety.  If the underlayer color is showing through the over layer color, the tool is no longer considered properly insulated and should be replaced.  While there is no specific requirement in regard to color other than the layers being contrasting, the industry has adopted the use of orange for the outer layer and yellow for the inner layer for all-purpose tools. Most manufacturers producing double layer insulated tools follow this color pattern thus allowing the inner layer to be seen during the tool inspection process. Note that specialty tools made from Aluminum-Bronze and Copper-Beryllium alloys that are non-sparking and non-magnetic and are insulated will also have a color-contrasting double layer coating. To differentiate from all-purpose tools, these specialty tools use another color for the outer insulating layer.  
For safety reasons other than shock and arc flash hazards, it is recommended that appropriate eye and hand protection be worn when using any type of hand tool. To fully comply with the CSA Z462-15 standard, truly insulated hand tools should be used if there is any chance that the tool will make contact with an energized source. A complete insulated tool program meeting these standards is achievable; you simply need to ensure that all your tools meet the ASTM F1505 and/or IEC 60903 standards for insulated hand tools.                                         
Contributed by: Roger Farmer, Salisbury by Honeywell

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For More Information Contact:

Michael | (716)-812-1141| michael@1000vTools.com


Proper safety equipment (PPE) must be worn while working on or near live power. 

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Items returned within 2 weeks of the sale in good sellable condition* will be given a merchandise credit less a 25% re-stocking fee. Freight will not be credited. Items returned after 2 week period of sale will not be given credit.

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