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OSHA Safety Hazard Information Bulletin on
Unapproved Electrical Indicating Device "Volt Stick"
December 18, 1991
The Directorate of Technical Support issues Hazard Information Bulletins (HIBs) in accordance with OSHA Instruction CPL 2.65 to provide relevant information regarding unrecognized or misunderstood safety and health hazards, and/or inadequacies of materials, devices, techniques and engineering controls. HIBs are initiated based on information provided by the field staff, studies, reports and concerns expressed by safety and health professionals, employers and the public. Information is compiled based on a comprehensive evaluation of available facts, literature and in coordination with appropriate parties. HIBs do not necessarily reflect OSHA policy.
The Atlanta Regional Office brought to our attention that an electrical indicating device known as "Volt Stick" may expose the user to electrical hazards. The device is imported from Sweden and distributed by MBD International located in Dallas, Texas.
The distributor's literature indicates that "Volt Stick" can be used to detect the presence of an electric field and identify "breaks in cables; blown fuses and circuit breakers; defective circuits and breaks in wires; defective in-series bulbs; "hot wires" at junctions; and other AC electrical detective jobs within the range of 110 to 480 Volts." The device has an aluminum case (tube) with an exterior black enamel paint and a metallic pocket clip. The "Volt Stick" has not been approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL)
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standard 1244, "Standard for Electrical and Electronic Measuring and Testing Equipment", applies to electrical indicating, measuring and testing equipment, including, according to UL, battery operated equipment. Section 9.1.1 requires that the accessible parts (parts that can be touched during normal use or operator servicing) not rely solely on insulating enamel for shock prevention. Because the "Volt Stick" probe is insulated only with an enamel coating and may come in contact with a potential greater than 30 Vrms (Section 9.2), it does not meet the UL Standard 1244 requirements for shock prevention.
29 CFR 1910.303 (a) and (b) require that electrical equipment be "approved", meaning listed or labeled by a NRTL. Since the "Volt Stick" has not been listed or labeled by a NRTL, it does not meet 29 CFR 1910.303 (a) and (b) standards. The exposed metal clip, aluminum case and cap make the "Volt Stick" a potential conductor and may expose the user to the hazards of electrical shocks.
Compliance and consultation personnel should be aware of the possible electrical hazards of the "Volt Stick".
Please distribute this bulletin to Area Offices, State Plan States, and Consultation Project Officers.