A question we hear a lot is: Do I need to use insulated hand tools for electrical work? If you doing any type of electrical work, insulated tools come highly recommended. They may even come as a requirement depending upon the job. Remember that, just because your screwdriver or pliers have plastic handles, this doesn’t guarantee they can and will insulate you from an electrical shock.
A Different Type of Construction
While regular pliers and screwdrivers may have plastic or nylon handles, they won’t insulate the user against contact with a high voltage electrical line. High voltage can travel along the steel core of the tool and quickly make the jump to the user through that thin plastic handle.
Also, insulated tools aren’t just wrapped with insulation. They come insulated from the tip to the back end of the handle to protect you against dangerous voltages. This protects you against accidental contact with live wires as high as 1000V AC or 1500V DC.
When to Use Insulated Hand Tools for Electrical Work
If you only work on low voltage wiring, then you may not need insulated hand tools. However, if you’re starting out as a professional electrician, insulated hand tools for electrical work should definitely be in your tool bag. Use them any time you might be in a situation where a wire could become hot—even through no fault of your own.
Finally, be sure to read the labels. Insulated electrical hand tools will be clearly labeled that they insulate and protect to a specific level of voltage. Normally insulated hand tools have two layers of insulation and they must meet the industry standards of ASTM F1505. Insulated hand tools typically cost more but are definitely worth the protection. Before starting any electrical work, always check for current and verify that circuits are off before you access any potentially live wires.