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HandToolsNonsparkingtools

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Whatisa"nonsparking"tool?
"Nonsparking","sparkreduced","sparkresistant"or"sparkproof"toolsarenamesgivento
toolsmadeofmetalssuchasbrass,bronze,Monelmetal(coppernickelalloy),copper
aluminumalloys(aluminumbronze),orcopperberylliumalloys(berylliumbronze).
Commonlyusedhandtoolsareoftenmanufacturedofsteelalloys.Preferred"nonsparking"
metalshavelesstensilestrengththansteelsusuallyusedtomaketools.Alowertensile
strengthmeansthemetalhaslessstrengthorresistancetotearingapartwhenstretched
undertestconditions.Italsomeansthatthesetoolsaresofter,weardownmorequicklythan
ordinarysteeltools,andhavetobedressedmorefrequently.

Whatisthemostimportantthingto
knowabout"nonsparking"tools?
Nonsparkingtoolsalsogeneratesparkssometimesreferredtoascoldsparks.Thesecold
sparkshavealowheatlevelanddonotignitecarbondisulfide,whichhasthelowestignition
pointofanysubstanceknowntoman.Thereforewhilenonsparkingtoolsmaylowerthe
riskofaspark,theydonoteliminatethepossibilityofsparks.Thename"nonsparking"is
misleadingbecausethesetoolsarecapableofproducingaspark:theterm"reduced
sparkingtools"betterdescribesthesetools.
Nonmetalslikewood,leather,andplasticaresuitableforsometoolslikeshovels,scrapers
orscoopsanddonotposeafrictionsparkhazard.
Nonsparkingtoolsprovideprotectionagainstfiresandexplosionsinenvironmentswhere
thereisaconcernaboutsparksignitingflammablesolvents,vapors,liquids,dustsor
residues.Therearemanystandardsandrecommendationsthathavebeenpublishedby
OSHA(OccupationalHealthandSafetyAdministration)andNFPA(NationalFireProtection
Association)thatadvisetheuseofnonsparkingtoolsinhazardousenvironments.
NOTE:Itisimportanttoassesseachsituationcarefullyandusetheappropriatetoolsforthe
hazardsthatarepresent.Insomecases,nonsparkingtoolsmaystillbeabletoproducea
spark.Contactthetoolmanufacturer,andtheproduceroftheflammablematerial(for
example)forrecommendationsandmoreinformation.

Whatarethehazardsofboth
"sparking"and"nonsparking"tools?
Both"sparking"and"nonsparking"materialscancauseignition.Twotypesofhazardsare
associatedwithtoolsmanufacturedofeithermaterial:
1.Ignitionbyfriction,withimpactoneachotheroronothermaterialssuchassteelor
concrete,inwhichan"ordinary"(mechanicalorfrictional)sparkisgenerated.Alltools
canigniteflammablemixturesbysparksgeneratedbyfrictionorimpact.However,this
istrueonlywhenthegeneratedsparkisincendive:thatmeansasparkthathasto
haveenoughheatcontent(i.e.,enoughmassandsufficientlyhightemperature)and
hastolastlongenoughtoheataflammableairvapourmixtureaboveitsignition
temperature.Thisismorelikelyinthecaseofsparksformedwhenusingametal
grinderthatasparkgeneratedwhenahammerstrikessomemetal.
2.Ignitionbyachemicallygeneratedspark,causedbyimpactbetweencertainmetals
andsomeoxygencontainingsubstances(suchasrust,whichisironoxide).

Howshouldyouuseandmaintain
"nonsparking"tools?
Followtheguidelinesbelowtoreducetheriskofexplosionandfire.
Makesureall"nonsparking"toolsarekeptcleanandfreefromferrousorother
contaminants,whichmayhamperthenonsparkingproperties.
Donotusenonsparkinghandtoolsindirectcontactwithacetylene,whichmayform
explosiveacetylides,especiallyinthepresenceofmoisture.
Uselocalormechanicalventilationsystemsasappropriatetoremovehazardous
materials,dustsandvaporsfromtheworkplace.
Follownormalsafetyprocedureswhensharpeningnonsparkingtoolssuchasthe
provisionofeyeandfaceprotection,adequateextractionanddustcollectionfacilities.

Whatisthebestsafeguardagainst
accidentalexplosions?
Followsafeworkprocedures.Alwaysevaluateajobtobedoneinahazardousenvironment
(eventhesimplestone)!Usepropertoolsandequipmentthateliminateignitionsuchas
electricmotorsthatcanbecertifiedas"explosionproof"foruseinmosthazardouswork
locationsornonsparkingtoolswithproperuseandmaintenance.Keepinmindthatthere
arenotrulynonsparkingtools.Inanyworkwhereflamesareused,orsparksareproduced,
makesurethatanexplosiveatmospheredoesnotdevelop.Suchatmospheresinclude
flammablevapourairmixturesandorganicdustcloudslikeflourorcoaldust.Isolation,
ventilationandpurgingaremethodsofinsuringasafeworkingatmosphere.Use
explosimetersintheworkplacetoprotectthoseworkinginhazardousenvironments.
RefertoOSHAnswersGeneralHandToolOperationformoretips.

DocumentlastupdatedonJune2,2011