When working in areas with a high risk of fire or explosion, it is essential to have specific manual tools: HellermannTyton’s new range of anti-sparking hand tools are the perfect example, because they are designed down to the smallest detail to ensure professional maximum safety at work.
What is an anti-sparking tool?
Anti-sparking tools are made in an alloy that ensures that sparks that might arise, with normal use, will not have enough energy to create the ignition of an explosive atmosphere. Regular hand tools are usually made of materials such as chromium vanadium steel alloys, and this does not make them suitable for use in high explosive environments such as automotive, breweries, mines, power generation and petrochemical: in fact, a falling tool could create fatal sparks for the safety of the plant and of those who work there.
In cases like this, special anti-spark tools must be used, they should be made of metals such as bronze, brass, copper and aluminium alloys, copper and beryllium alloys or Monel, a special copper and nickel alloy. All the alloys used to produce this particular type of tool have a lower tensile strength than traditional materials: this means they have less strength and resistance, are softer and wear out more quickly, but generate cold sparks with a low level of heat that are not able to ignite any substance. The anti-spark tools are therefore ideal to protect against fires and explosions in environments with a high risk rate such as petrochemical and mines.
HellermannTyton spark-proof hand tools, are made of Copper-Beryllium (Cu-Be) or Aluminium-Bronze (Al-Bron) and guarantee maximum safety even in extreme situations. They are anti-spark and anti-magnetic, so they can be used safely even in delicate situations and in places where even a single spark could be fatal. The hardness of the Cu-Be is 40% higher than the AI-Bron, so it wears less and has a 40% longer life. The Cu-Be alloy is safer than Al-Bron because its sparks have less energy. Cu-Be can be identified by its reddish/pink colour, while AlBron is more yellow. Alloys are sent to BAM German Federal Institute, the only EU certified body which does tests on non-sparking materials, and tests are done in extreme conditions, hundreds of times more demanding that the normal use of tools.
The tools are ATEX and 60079-10 compliant (ATEX is named after the French “ATmosphere EXplosible.” EN 60079-10 is the European Standard for determining the classification of hazardous areas:
“Many people do not realise that anti-sparking tools are available, so obviously the tools you use should fit your application; if you are going into a hazardous environment, make sure that you have the right tools for the job.”
How to best use anti-sparking tools
First of all, make sure that all spark-proof tools are thoroughly cleaned and free from rust or ferrous contaminants, which could damage the anti-deflagration properties. Then, you must always remember not to use them in direct contact with acetylene, which, in the presence of moisture, could create highly dangerous explosive acetals. Thirdly, always remember to periodically sharpen all the anti-spark tools following the normal safety procedures, thus protecting eyes and face and collecting the powders with the appropriate tools.
Finally, it is essential to ventilate the premises to remove potentially harmful powders and vapours from the air. By following these few simple rules, you will ensure that you always have clean and functional tools, and minimise the possible dangers in the workplace.
What do you risk not using an anti-sparking tool?
There are environments where it is unthinkable to use traditional hand tools, produced in the classic steel alloys, because it would risk causing unsolvable problems. Frictional ignition may occur, if the tool falls or it is rubbed on materials such as cement: the steel alloys linked to the chrome vanadium, in fact, can generate hot sparks at high risk, because they can ignite airborne flammable substances in a moment. This would cause fires or explosions, endangering the lives of everyone in the workplace.