Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees, including taking the necessary protective measures when they are working with electrical systems. There are five general safety rules when it comes to dealing with repair to electrical systems:
- Disconnect completely
- Secure against re-connection
- Verify the installation is dead
- Carry out earthing and short-circuiting
- Provide protection against adjacent live parts
Qualified electricians are familiar with these rules, but they also understand another important fact: these rules will only keep them safe if the equipment they are using is also up to date and functioning properly.
With insulating sticks, the “hot stick working” method of establishing a de-energized state is used in medium to high voltage installations. This allows the electrician to perform their work by staying a certain distance from the live system parts. It can be used when an electrician is trying to disconnect the supply, verify the de-energized state, or for earthing and short-circuiting.
The insulating stick used should be up to standards, capable of meeting the purpose of the application. To do this, it must be the right dimensions, and be attached according to the instructions. A damaged insulating rod or a wrongly chosen one can give rise to increased discharge currents when in hazardous areas or touching live system parts, which could lead to injury or death on the user’s part. A faulty extension piece or metal part in the operating head of the road can cause spark over, or trip an arcing fault that can also have serious consequences.
All insulating rods should feature a standard conform type label, specifying the installations they are designed to work with. When considering if an insulating rod should be used, electricians also need to consider the frequency of application as well as stressing that could have occurred due to ambient conditions and transport.
An in-service inspection of capacitive voltage detectors should occur every six years, as required by the BGV A3, and protective devices should be inspected to make sure they are properly working before every use.