Facom Non Sparking Tools: When and How to Use Them

Published : 07/22/2022 12:33:52
Categories : Mister Worker , Professional working tools guide

If you work in the field of oil & gas you surely know how important it is to choose specific hand tools that minimize the risks of accidents in your workplace. The safety of the worker is a matter of fundamental importance for Facom, that strives to design a catalogue of reliable non-sparking and explosion proof hand tools to keep workers safe.

The range of Facom non-sparking hand tools is specifically designed to fulfill the needs of explosion in ATEX zones such as oil refineries, offshore oil rigs, coal mines and so on. If you choose Facom non-sparking sockets, hammers and wrenches you can rely on the experience and know-how of this brand. Moreover, you can be sure that these spark resistant tools, designed with great attention to detail, will ensure your maximum safety at work.

FACOM Non-Sparking Wrench

What is a Non Sparking Tool?

Non-sparking tools are special tools made of particular materials (such as Bronze or Beryllium) that reduce the risk of explosion when working in ATEX zones.

Non-Sparking tools or spark proof tools are way different than regular hand tools that are commonly in the toolbox of professionals in mechanical workshops. In fact, regular hand tools, for example Facom wrenches, are usually made of highly resistant chromium vanadium steel alloys, a material that is not suitable to be used in facilities that may have an explosive atmosphere such as oil rigs: in fact, if a steel wrench would fall in such an environment it could create sparks that, consequently, could cause an explosion or the start of a fire, putting in danger the life of all workers on the platform. We delve into this topic in this other article in our blog.

If you’re asking yourself “Where are non sparking tools required?” The answer is that these tools must be used in any environment where ignition sources, flammable gasses,  dust or liquids can be dangerous. 

On the other hand, if you do not know what are non sparking tools made of, they are made of special materials and alloys that prevent the risks of explosions and fires. Let's see this topic in more detail.

What type of metal does not spark?

Stainless steel, silver, bronze, aluminium, beryllium, Monel metal, brass, nickel and copper alloys are some examples of non sparking materials.

What makes a metal non sparking? All the alloys used to produce these particular spark resistant tools are not ferrous, and have a lower tensile strength with respect to traditional material. This means that they are characterized by less resistance, are softer and wear out more quickly, but generate cold sparks that are not able to ignite any substance. Have a look, for example, at the Facom non-sparking combination wrench 440.26SR: this non sparking tool made of a copper-beryllium alloy is equipped with a ring head and an open end head. Thanks to its specific anti-sparking features, this tool is the right one, as it protects you against fires and explosions that could take place in risky environments if you use a standard wrench.

If you are looking for ratchets, take a look at the Facom non-sparking ratchet SKM.SR, which is made of a special anti-magnetic beryllium copper alloy and contains a mechanism made entirely of beryllium copper. 

Take a look at the 1262H.SR spark resistant clubhammer. It has special striking surfaces without sharp edges. To ensure the highest level of safety, FACOM uses wooden handles for spark suppression.

In fact, non sparking materials, like the copper and beryllium alloy, used by Facom to produce its spark proof hand tools guarantees maximum safety even in extreme situations and delicate places, where even a single spark could be fatal.

How to use a non-sparking tool

If you are to work with non sparking tools, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • It is fundamental to check continually that your non-sparking tools have been thoroughly cleaned and are free from rust or iron contamination. If they are not clean or have rust, the non-sparking properties of your Facom anti spark tool could be affected. 
  • Non sparking tools made of fireproof materials must not be used in direct contact with acetylene as very dangerous explosive acetals can develop in the presence of moisture.
  • All spark resistant tools must be regularly sharpened in accordance with normal safety procedures and cleared of dust.
  • Finally, it is important to ventilate work areas to remove potentially harmful powders and vapors from the air.

Following these rules will ensure that you always enjoy clean and functional non-sparking tools and minimise the potential hazards in the workplace.

Oil Rig

What happens if you don’t use non sparking tools in dangerous environments?

As we explained in the previous questions, in certain environments standard hand tools could lead to the generation of a spark that would put all the workers in the facility in danger.

Think for example of an offshore oil rig: in such places there may be gases or liquid substances that could cause a fire or an explosion. In these situations, it is unthinkable to use traditional hand tools and just tools that don’t contain ferrous metals should be used.

There are numerous doubts about which tools can be used in ATEX zones and which materials comply with the non sparking tools standards. Many people ask “Is chrome vanadium steel non-sparking?” If a tool made of this alloy falls or it is rubbed on materials such as cement the steel alloys linked to the chrome vanadium, in fact, can generate hot sparks and high risk, because they can ignite airborne flammable substances in a moment. We can thus state that chrome-vanadium steel is a sparking metal, and, when used in ATEX areas, can lead to serious accidents that put people's lives at risk. 

It is also frequently wondered “Is galvanized steel non-sparking?” We can clearly affirm that galvanized steel is considered as a sparking material.  Zinc alloys that contain 30 to 55 per cent aluminium are flammable and, therefore, it is fundamental to understand that if galvanised steel is struck with sufficient force and the zinc coating penetrates through to the base steel, the steel can obviously spark. So, it is strongly recommended not to use of tools made of galvanized steel in these areas. 

Facom non sparking tools are ATEX certified: What does this mean?

To guarantee maximum safety in the workplace, Facom anti spark tools follow the most common non sparking tools standards, as well as all the minimum safety requirements laid out in the European ATEX directives. All Facom non-sparking tools are therefore ATEX (ATmosphères and EXplosibles) certified, and they’re produced following the rules concerning the regulation of work equipment used in areas with a high risk of explosion to protect the employees working in explosion risk areas.

If you ask yourself, under what conditions can an explosion occur? Shall you remember that this risk exists in the presence of the following substances:

  • Combustibles, such as oxygen in the air, 
  • Fuels, 
  • Chemical gasses (solvents, thinners...) 
  • Dust (aluminium, wood, magnesium...) 
  • Flammability points, i.e. a source of ignition.

In these cases, the atmosphere becomes very dangerous: a small hot spark due to the fall or rubbing of a tool could cause an explosion.

Facom is considered as one of the best non sparking tools suppliers on the market. All Facom anti spark tools available on Mister Worker™, can be used safely thanks to the special attention paid in the design and production of these non -sparking, anti-magnetic hand tools.

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