Hot sticks are a piece of equipment used to manipulate energized equipment from a safe distance. Because hot sticks are used to work with high voltage machines and conductors, they are made up of insulated material and can vary in length.
HOT STICK BASICS
Length of a hot stick varies during service and is dependent upon the voltage level of the equipment being manipulated. Material of a hot stick can also vary. This is because newer hot sticks are made up of materials such as fiberglass or epoxiglass, while older hot sticks are made up of wood treated with chemical/moisture/temperature resistant materials.
Hot sticks can be fitted with many different tools and instruments. The most commonly used fitting is NEMA standard design. This fitting allows most tools and equipment to be connected to a hot stick. Some tools that can be equipped on a hot stick include wrenches, screwdrivers, cutters, sockets and saws.
TYPES OF HOT STICKS
There are two types of hot stick models, telescoping and shotgun.
A hot stick that is considered telescoping consists of several hollow sections that can nest inside each other. Each section can be extended with a spring-load button located on the hot stick. When a technician uses a telescoping hot stick, he/she can determine how many of the sections they want extended. If a job can be done with a shorter hot stick, than the telescoping hot stick will only need to be extended as much as required for the job at hand.
A shotgun hot stick consists of a sliding lever mechanism. This mechanism allows a technician to open and close the hot stick. This mechanism allows a technician to attach a hot stick to a disconnect ring and then close it. This type of hot stick gets its name from its similarity to the pump-action of a shotgun.
WHEN AND HOW TO USE A HOT STICK
Hot sticks should be used the insulation and isolation of a technician is necessary. In most cases, when the chance of electric shock, arc or blast are likely. Typical procedures that require the use of hot sticks include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Voltage measurement (Medium Voltage and Higher)
- Repairs and modifications to energized equipment with medium to high voltage
- Operation of equipment disconnect or cutouts (should be used for all voltages)
- Application of safety grounds (should be used for all voltages)
Before using hots sticks, a close inspection should be performed to ensure that the stick does not have any physical damage. Physical damage of a stick may affect is insulating ability and could pose as a safety threat. If a safety stick has permanent damage, such as a crack or spilt, It should be replaced.
When hot sticks are used, personnel should be dressed appropriately in safety clothes. Bare minimum worn should be rubber gloves and face shields. Flash suits are highly recommended and should be wore at all times, especially when applying safety grounds.
HOT STICKS CALIBRATION
To ensure that a hot stick is working efficiently, it should be calibrated and maintained. OSHA standards require hot sticks to be inspected and tested periodically. With frequent calibration and inspection, accuracy and reliability of a hot stick can be guaranteed.