Electric tools – safety first
Ensuring the safety of hand-held motor-operated electric tools and gardening appliances
Hand-held motor-operated electric tools and gardening appliances have invaded the home and garden environments. The large number of users, many of them amateur gardeners or casual handymen, makes it imperative to ensure they are as safe as possible to operate. IEC TC (Technical Committee) 116: Safety of motor-operated electric tools, is responsible for the preparation of "international safety standards for hand-held and transportable motor-operated electric tools and gardening appliances".
From professional use to consumer world
Following a trend observed in many domains, powerful electric tools and gardening appliances, initially used mainly by professionals, have gradually entered the home environment as their cost has dropped significantly and as more and more people have dabbled in DIY (do-it-yourself) activities.
These tools or appliances designed to cut, grind or pierce various materials may cause serious injuries even in the hands of professional or experienced users. Particular safety requirements are therefore needed in addition to the usual general safety specifications covering household and similar electrical appliances. Furthermore, many of these tools or appliances are often used outdoors, requiring special attention regarding other safety aspects such as moisture resistance and protection against dust and access to live parts.
From SC to full TC
IEC TC 61: Safety of household and similar electrical appliances, was set up in 1967. One of its SCs (Subcommittees), SC 61F, was responsible for the preparation of standards concerning the safety of hand-held motor-operated electric tools, of other standards regarding the safety of transportable motor-operated electric tools and of five standards from a series concerning the safety of garden appliances.
Given the expanding scope of the International Standards needed in these domains, SC 61F was transformed into the full stand-alone TC 116 in 2008.
TC 116 is currently preparing standards in the following series:
IEC 60745, Hand-held motor-operated electric tools - Safety (Part 1: General requirements and Part 2: Particular requirements). The majority of TC 116 International Standards belong to this series, including the new IEC 60745 2 22 ed1.0, Particular requirements for cut-off machines, published in March 2011. Recently, TC 116 also issued revised editions of two International Standards in the same series, one on Particular requirements for grinders, polishers and disk-type sanders, and the other on Particular requirements for chain saws.
IEC 60335-2, Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety (Part 2: Particular requirements, for International Standards covering gardening appliances only)
IEC 61029, Safety of transportable motor-operated electric tools (Part 1: General requirements and Part 2: Particular requirements)
TC 116 works continuously preparing new or improving existing - International Standards for the safety of hand-held and transportable motor-operated electric tools and gardening appliances. However, safety does not depend on the electrical safety of equipment alone. Users of electric tools and gardening appliances are ultimately responsible for ensuring they operate all tools and appliances safely and sensibly. This means also using the appropriate gear, such as protective clothing and footwear, goggles, dust or vapour masks; following instructions; and operating within sensible guidelines regarding, for instance, humid or potentially explosive environments.