Hot Sticks are insulated poles used by electrical utility workers to protect them from electric shock when performing maintenance or repairs on power lines. The Hot Stick provides both a method of electrical insulation from live power lines and provides a physical separation to reduce the chances of injury if electrical arcing occurs
Hot Sticks are usually made out of a fiberglass-reinforced plastic or wood. The fiberglass-reinforced plastic hot sticks are either solid plastic, or they are filled with foam to make them lighter and help keep out moisture and dust. Hot Sticks can be manufactured in various fixed lengths or they can be made into long telescoping poles. Various tools can be attached to the end of the Hot Stick for general handling of live wires, measuring voltages, tightening connectors, replacing fuses and other tasks while protecting the worker from electrical shock.
Hot Stick Maintenance Program
Every contractor or worker that uses Hot Sticks should be governed by a maintenance program that is designed in accordance with OSHA regulation 1910.269(j). This maintenance program should include policies and procedures for the:
Inspection process for the Hot Stick prior to use
Daily cleaning process
Performance of the required two-year inspection, maintenance and testing
Use and transportation of the tool at the worksite and proper storage
Training requirements for all affected personnel
Hot Stick Daily Inspection
Hot Sticks need to be visually inspected before being used every day to look for any visible defects, damage or wear on its surface that could impede its normal operation and that could reduce its insulating properties.
The inspection should include looking for the following:
Scratches, cuts, cracks, and dents
Evidence of electrical tracking or burns
A dull appearance or lack of a glossy finish
Flaking, peeling or other signs of surface delamination
Missing, damaged, or loose components
The Hot Stick should be removed from service immediately and evaluated for repair if any items are found during the inspection that question the integrity of the tool.
Hot Stick Cleaning
The cleaning of Hot Sticks is a very important part of the maintenance program. Hot Sticks may contain microscopic cracks and pits in the surface that can store conductive contaminants which could cause electrical tracking. Cleaning helps to remove those conditions.
Cleaning Hot Sticks is a two-step process. First, a dry, clean cloth or towel should be used to remove any large-scale contamination from the surface. The second step is to wipe the surface with a silicone-impregnated cloth. These special cloths help to prevent contaminant buildup by filling in any cracks or pits and will protect the gloss finish of the Hot Stick to help maintain its insulating properties. Ordinary soaps or liquid detergents should never be used to clean Hot Sticks as they can leave a conductive coating.
Hot Stick Testing
Hot Sticks must be removed from service at a minimum of every two years for a physical examination and electrical testing to ensure that the insulating properties of the tool are maintained.
All fiberglass-reinforced Hot Sticks must pass a wet test at 75,000 volts per foot for one minute. The tools should be tested after being cleaned, but before silicone is applied. Wood Hot Sticks must pass a dry test at 50,000 volts per foot for one minute.
If the Hot Stick fails the electrical testing, it should be removed from service. Minor damage to Hot Sticks can be repaired and the surface can be refinished to bring the tool back into service. Repairs should only be performed by a competent and qualified person based on the manufacturer’s procedures. The electrical testing must be performed again after any repair before returning the tool into service.
Hot Stick Use and Storage
To maintain the Hot Stick in a clean condition during use, workers should always use clean hands or gloves while handling the tools to avoid contamination of the dielectric surface. When used at a worksite, Hot Sticks should be placed on tarps or in special tool holders and should never be allowed to touch the ground or other objects that could damage the surface. A visual inspection should always be performed if the Hot Stick is dropped or impacts an object that could result in damage.
Hot Sticks should be stored in a weatherproof enclosure, such as a protective tube or bag when not being used or when being transported to a worksite.
has the capability to properly inspect, clean and test many types of Hot Sticks. For more information on the testing requirements for Hot Sticks, contact e2b calibration.
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