The hand tools team at Draper Tools explain why stocking VDE tools is a safe move.
Everyone knows electricians need VDE tools for protection on the job, but not everyone seems to know the insulation should be regularly checked. In fact, according to a study by Draper Tools, only 17% of the UK’s electricians* say they regularly check the insulation on their VDE tools.
Industry guidance recommends electricians perform a visual inspection of an insulated tool each time they plan to use it. This is because any visible cracks, nicks, cuts or other damage to the outer layer of the insulated tool could compromise safety.
It’s the younger generation of electricians who are most guilty of being a little lax with the suggested visual inspections – just 5% of the 18 to 24-year-olds in the Draper study regularly check their insulation. But with knowledge and experience comes a greater concern for safety, and the number of electricians who do regular checks does increase with age.
Draper’s recently released XP1000 range of VDE hand tools has a clever way of addressing this industry issue. To make the task of performing a visual check easier for busy electricians, all of Draper’s XP1000 screwdrivers feature a dual-layer “insulation warning” blade sheath to indicate wear and VDE protection status. The two layers are different colours; if the under layer is visible, the tool may not be safe to use. The feature was designed to help give total peace of mind on the job and is proving popular with a number of electricians.
Despite the room for improvement on the number of electricians checking their VDE insulation, there is an overall recognition of the importance of VDE tools in the industry. Just over one in 10 of the nation’s electricians said that good quality VDE tools were a vital investment. In fact, 22% love adding to their tool collection, and more than a third of electricians say that getting to use tools every day is the best part of the job.
What makes VDE tools so tough?
So what goes into the testing for VDE certification to ensure these tools are tough and a vital investment for electricians?
VDE stands for Verband der Elektrotec und Informationstechnik – a nationally and internationally accredited independent institution for the testing and certification of electric equipment, components and systems. It tests products for quality, health, environmental protection, safety and social responsibility standards in nearly every market in the world.
Stringent testing is applied before VDE certification is gained. In the case of the VDE tools in Draper’s XP1000 range, this includes a voltage piece test, where the tools are submerged in water and electrified to test for sparks. VDE tools also undergo a combustion test where they are exposed to a flame and a pressure test which sees a load applied at a high temperature. There’s a thorough adhesion test to pass too and a cold shock test where the tools are cooled down to -25°C to test the durability of the insulation material.
By contrast, standard pliers and screwdrivers are likely to have simple plastic or nylon handles, which obviously won’t insulate an electrician against contact with a high-voltage electrical line. High voltage can travel along a tool’s steel core and quickly jump to the user through a plastic or nylon handle. Put simply: without properly insulated tools to hand, electricians could be risking serious injury, liability or even death.
It just goes to show that a good selection of VDE-certified hand tools will always be a key part of a wholesaler’s offering. However, they are just one of the safety-focused tools for electricians. Other important items to stock up on include PPE such as gloves and boots. A great range of tools and essentials for electricians, from VDE screwdrivers and pliers to a Wi-Fi endoscope, is available from Draper Tools.
To view Draper’s complete range of hand tools, click here
*Survey of electricians commissioned by Draper Tools, conducted by OnePoll in November 2021. Sample size: 200 UK electricians.