Electricity has so many uses in our lives that we tend to take it for granted, even when we're working on projects involving live current. That carelessness is dangerous. Electrical current can cause burns, severe injuries, and even death. Anyone working with electricity should use insulated hand tools, like an insulated screwdriver, as a standard safety measure.
According to OSHA standards, an insulated screwdriver will have a dielectric substance separating the handle of the screwdriver from the tip. The dielectric material is very resistant to conducting electricity. That way, even if the tip of the screwdriver contacts a live current, little or no energy will reach the worker's hand.
Today, the best insulated screwdriver handles are rated to be safe for exposure to electrical alternating current up to 1000 volts, and most of them are tested up to 10,000 volts of alternating current. These are sometimes called electrician insulated screwdrivers, because they are used by electricians. Typically, the handles have two layers of insulation, and each layer is a different color, so they can be inspected easily. The screwdriver handles are often designed to be used with a set of interchangeable tips in different sizes and shapes. These handles are often shock resistant and flame resistant as well.
Construction workers are not the only people who need an insulated screwdriver. Technicians work on all kinds of electrical equipment, and using insulated hand tools is a standard precaution. In this situation, using a screwdriver that is insulated protects the machine as well as the worker, since an electrical discharge can destroy the equipment. Even the discharge of static electricity can ruin sensitive equipment, so an insulated screwdriver is an essential tool.
Look for rating information when buying an insulated screwdriver. The plastic handles found on many screwdrivers do not provide insulation. Vinyl covered screwdriver blades may prevent a circuit from being shorted out, but will not protect a person from an electrical current. A fully insulated screwdriver will be labeled as such.