Importance of Electrical Insulating Blankets for Linemen

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Importance of Electrical Insulating Blankets for Linemen

Linemen require the proper materials to protect them from hazardous electrical conditions that could otherwise cause serious injury or death. Electrical insulating blankets serve as a type of barrier used to protect linemen from accidental contact with live components during energized line maintenance. The flexibility of these blankets enables them to be easily wrapped or folded around irregularly shaped components such as switchgear and transformers, thus providing adequate protection for workers. 

What is An Electrical Insulating Blanket?

Electrical rubber insulating blankets, also referred to as shock protection blankets, are used to cover energized components to protect linemen from various electrical hazards. More specifically, they serve as a cover-up for electrical equipment found in substations, switchboards, and cubicles. These blankets are available in various sizes, types, and classes, and they typically have eyelets that allow them to be easily secured using straps, buttons, or pins.

Importance of Electrical Insulating Blankets

The importance of electrical insulating rubber blankets for linemen comes mainly from their ability to protect workers from dangerous conditions. Every year in the United States, dozens of linemen are seriously injured or killed because of high voltage-related accidents. To prevent this, it’s important to implement safe work procedures and use personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to lower the risk of exposure for linemen. 

In instances where a lineman must be closer than the safe distance to energized components, it’s crucial that all energized electrical conductors be insulated from other conductive objects as well as the worker. In these situations, using electrical insulating blankets to cover exposed live parts can prevent injury and death by protecting linemen from electrical shocks and accidents. 

Inspection and Safety

To ensure optimal performance and safety, electrical insulating blankets must be properly inspected before use. It’s important to roll blankets to check for age-cracking, corona cutting, snags, abrasions, tears, and scratches. They should be rolled at least two times on each side, with the second roll perpendicular to the first. Any blankets that show signs of damage should be removed from service.

ASTM standards require electrical retests at least every 12 months, with in-field visual inspections at least every six months. More specifically, the ASTM testing and inspection process follow these steps:

  1. Check-in process
  2. Remove the previous testing marking
  3. Wash with cleaning agents that won’t degrade the insulating properties
  4. Interior and exterior visual inspection of all surfaces
  5. Electrical testing
  6. Final inspection
  7. Recordkeeping
  8. Marking
  9. Packing in appropriate containers for shipment or storage

Electrical Insulating Blankets from Burlington Safety Laboratory

Linemen are regularly exposed to energized components that, without the proper protection, can cause serious harm to workers. To ensure the safety of linemen, electrical insulating blankets can be used to cover hazardous live parts. 

At Burlington Safety Laboratory, we are a go-to source for linemen’s protective equipment. As part of our offerings, we provide top-quality electrical insulating blankets designed to create a barrier between workers and energized electrical components. Depending on your particular needs, we can deliver protective blankets in a wide range of styles and sizes to ensure optimal protection. For more information about our shock-protection blankets and other electrical safety equipment, contact Burlington Safety Laboratory today. 

Hot Sticks 101

At Burlington Safety Laboratory, we’re committed to safety and thoroughly testing equipment so it offers the best possible degree of protection. Peter Senin, Burlington’s late president, helped lead the charge in creating safety guidelines used by the National Association of Independent Laboratories for Protective Equipment Testing (NAIL for PET), and we’ve been creating testing procedures that uphold the same mission for over 40 years.

Our testing processes meet or exceed the standards of ASTM, ANSI, OSHA, and NIST, and we test a wide range of safety equipment to ensure compliance. Learn more about the role of high-voltage hot sticks in maintaining a safe work environment.

What Is a Hot Stick?

Line technicians use hot sticks while near energized equipment and power lines to avoid making contact with or going too near to live electricity sources. High-voltage electricity sources are extremely hazardous for operators and repair technicians. Not only can direct contact be dangerous or even fatal, but the electricity can cause arc flashes: transfers of electricity through the air toward the ground, endangering people within range.

The sticks themselves are fiberglass rods at least four feet long with fixtures at the end that can press switches and manipulate parts. Technicians hold the handle of the stick to reach and maneuver parts on the other end. Because fiberglass does not conduct electricity, these tools keep workers safe from electricity. The four-foot length also ensures enough clearance to mitigate the risk of arcing and shock by keeping workers and their hands out of the arc zone.

Types of Hot Sticks

Manufacturers produce a wide range of hot sticks of different lengths, materials, and attachments to help line technicians complete repairs and maintenance on high-voltage equipment or systems. They fit into two broad categories: telescoping hot sticks and shotgun hot sticks.

Telescoping Hot Sticks

Telescoping hot sticks are extendable tools. They feature several hollow tubes of successively larger diameters so they fit neatly inside each other and then extend the total length of the hot stick. Technicians can extend one, several, or all of the sections based on the distance between themselves and the surface that needs to be reached. This versatile design allows technicians to reach electrical equipment at different heights without having to use a large collection of separate tools.

Shotgun Hot Sticks

Shotgun hot sticks help line technicians easily reach, remove, and install components. Rather than having separate sections that operators extend manually, shotgun hot sticks have a sliding mechanism to increase the length of the stick. Operators can attach the far end of the stick to a disconnect ring, pull the trigger at the other end, and elongate the stick. Once the stick is the right length, the operator can disengage the trigger and use the stick.

When and How to Use a Hot Stick

Operators and technicians should use a hot stick whenever working on or near live electricity. By using the sticks instead of directly touching the equipment, workers stay isolated against the risk of electrical shocks. Because the hot sticks are long, they also isolate workers by keeping them out of the arc zone. Hot sticks should be used whenever there is a risk of electric shock, blasts, and arcing; specific circumstances include: 

  • Proximity with equipment or lines that have medium or high voltage levels
  • When making repairs and adjustments to medium-voltage energized equipment
  • Operating disconnects or cutouts of any voltage level
  • When applying safety grounds for equipment at any voltage level

Technicians can use these sticks to directly manipulate cables, fuses, and other components. For example, line technicians can use a hot stick to hook terminated cable ends inside a transformer to “unplug” the cable or temporarily disconnect it. Then they can use the tool to reconnect it after completing repairs. Line technicians can also use hot sticks to position a fuse back into place after an outage.

Contact Burlington Safety Laboratory for Your Hot Stick Needs

Safety equipment is crucial for protecting people and surrounding environments. The safety equipment itself must comply with strict product quality standards to perform this duty reliably. At Burlington Safety Laboratory, we provide comprehensive, specialized testing for safety tools. Contact us today to learn more or request a quote. You can reach our team for assistance online or over the phone at 800-220-2120.

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