Essential Hand Tools for Apprentices: A Safety-First Approach

Hand tools every apprentice should have in their tool bag to start off their career right.

By Adam Moscherosch, Contributor

Hand tools lay the foundation for every apprentice starting out in their career. Electricians rely heavily on the tools they initially purchase, as it can often determine success and safety on the jobsite. With the widespread range of tools to choose from, it may be challenging to know which to purchase. Each tool plays a crucial role in every application on and off the jobsite. To stay efficient on the job, there are some key takeaways every apprentice should know.

No matter what kind of work an electrician is doing, selecting safe and reliable hand tools is vital. Image courtesy of Milwaukee Tool.

MANUFACTURING AND COST

While there are many different solutions on the market, it all starts with how these tools are manufactured. Manufacturing may not be the first thought on every apprentice’s mind, but it can directly affect the performance, durability and lifetime of a tool. The manufacturing process can often mean the difference between a high-quality tool and one that doesn’t last.

When tools are produced using outdated practices, they may appear to be more cost efficient in the moment, but often lead to more spending in the future. Low-quality tools can wear out quickly and frequently, causing more trips to the store to buy replacement hand tools. This can negatively affect project budgets, deadlines and user experience. The durability of each tool must be able to withstand various applications. Purchasing from manufacturers that prioritize innovative manufacturing processes, quality and compliance often helps reduce the risk of tool failure and minimizes spending.

SAFETY

No matter what kind of work an electrician is doing, selecting safe and reliable hand tools is vital. Some electricians, who work in environments where live circuitry may be present, should take extra precautions to follow safety protocols, wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and utilize insulated hand tools. Insulated hand tools, along with proper PPE and safety precautions, provide an essential barrier for user safety.

Ensuring a tool is lightweight and comfortable to maneuver can help reduce fatigue and help increase overall safety for the user. Frequent use of poorly designed tools can lead to hand, wrist and muscle strains. Investing in the comfortability of your tool’s design can help contribute to long-term health and job satisfaction.

HAND TOOLS TO KNOW ABOUT

There is no limitation to what is found in an electrician’s tool bag. The variety of tools helps them install, maintain and repair electrical systems safely and efficiently.

Screwdrivers:

Almost every project will require the use of multiple screwdrivers starting from day one. User frustrations usually stem from tips that fit poorly into screws, slip out, or wear down easily. Features like laser etched and magnetic tips can help alleviate these pain points.

Insulation on a screwdriver, if compromised, can lead to injury. Insulated screwdrivers should be thoroughly inspected before use for any nicks or wear to the protective insulation layer. Electricians who work with systems that may not be able to be turned off should take extra precautions to prevent injury. Following safety protocols, use of proper PPE and use of insulated hand tools, will help keep them safe.

Pliers:

Pliers are an indispensable tool in an electrician’s daily line up. They are ideal for cutting, gripping, or even bending different materials. Different tasks call for different pliers, such as the lineman’s, diagonal and long nose pliers.

  • Lineman’s Pliers are a multifunctional hand tool and can be used for cutting, crimping, twisting and pulling. These pliers have higher leverage, enabling users to cut through tough materials. The flat grip ensures a secure hold, allowing electricians to confidently handle different maneuvers during applications.
  • Diagonal Cutting Pliers are designed for cutting materials with precision and efficiency. The compact size and sharp angled jaws make them ideal to use in tight-to-reach places. They are also used for trimming excess wire after applications.
  • Long Nose Pliers have long pointed jaws which make them great to use in hard-to-reach places. They allow for precise gripping and bending of small wires where regular pliers may not be able to reach.

Multifunctional Tools:

Electricians today are prioritizing multifunctionality to increase workflow and save time. The use of these tools, such as 6in1 combination pliers, allow users to cut, grip, crimp and strip wires without having to swap out multiple tools. The enhanced workflow minimizes interruptions, reducing the chance of misplaced tools, and is cost effective.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

Overall, the importance of quality hand tools starts with the manufacturing process. Investing in tools from the right manufacturer can directly influence efficiency and safety on the jobsite. Apprentices starting out with these tools can ensure a solid foundation when building their career. High quality provides users with durable tools that can withstand daily demands. Pliers, screwdrivers and other hand tools can help reduce risk on the jobsite when properly insulated. Companies that are committed to trade-focused innovation and success are an electrician’s best option when finding the right solutions. ESW

Adam Moscherosch is the Director of Product Marketing with Milwaukee Tool. Over the past several years, Milwaukee Tool has invested heavily in technology and innovation across their hand tool, power tool and power tool accessories businesses. Learn the Milwaukee story at www.milwaukeetool.com.

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