Fiam Thinking

Are you sure the electric screwdriver you use every day is fully compliant?

We often take it for granted that all products available in the European market meet the requirements of EU safety directives, but this is not always the case and hazardous situations are frequently encountered, even in the industrial arena, putting operator safety at risk.

For instance, when we talk about electric tightening systems, it is worth remembering that any such systems put on the European market are required to meet the following directives:

  • EMC directive: 2014/30/EU relating to electromagnetic compatibility (EMC);
  • Machinery Directive: 2006/42/EC relating to product safety.

The former – namely the EMC directive – does not define any standards as such, instead pointing out how all manufacturers of electrical equipment are required to comply with IEC/ISO EN technical standards and provides common broad objectives in terms of safety regulations for all member states.

When it comes to electromagnetic compatibility, it is wise to choose electric screwdrivers (cord and power supply included) that are completely immune to undesired electromagnetic interferences, phenomena that occur both through cables and due to radiation (for example, mobile phones or other signals). Screwdrivers, in turn, must not affect other equipment and must fall within the ranges prescribed for even  the most severe industrial environments.

Today, factories are plagued by these phenomena and this is very much a current issue and one not to be underestimated: just think, for example, of the hazardous effects that interferences can have on the safety systems of nearby machinery.

The second directive instead regards machinery, interchangeable equipment, lifting accessories, removable mechanical transmission devices and partly completed machinery and introduces obligations for the manufacturer to certify or self-certify, to mark the product according to certain directions and to prepare a series of documents, such as the operating and maintenance manual or technical construction file.

In terms of product safety, it is advisable to always make sure that electric screwdrivers come with their user guides and relevant declaration of conformity – which are compulsory – and opt for manufacturers who apply the most recent standards, such as the very latest harmonized standards IEC EN 62841-1 and IEC 62841-2-2.

In this regard, it is worth pointing out that almost all electric screwdrivers on the market make reference to tests performed based on the old regulations, while having the latest generation products instead means greater safety and reliability for the end user, given that the harmonized standards are a lot stricter.

Another quality on the operator safety front regards ESD certification: it is wise to choose electric screwdrivers made with latest generation dissipative plastic covers, which stop static charges building up on the tip of the blade inserted in the tool’s chuck and allow any electric charges transferred from the operator to the tool (and vice versa) to be discharged to earth without any buildup in the tightening area.

That way, these screwdrivers do not damage the parts they are tasked with assembling – an essential condition, especially in electric and electronic fields – and do not transfer static charges to the operator’s hand-arm system.

In addition, these screwdrivers are fully compliant with regulations for EPAs (ESD Protected Areas)m which are present in a whole host of industries, such as automotive, aviation, lighting and electronics.

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