How to use

1- Are there other safe materials or alloys for hazardous atmospheres apart from the Cu-Be and Al-Bron?
2- Are copper, brass or tin bronze, substitutes for Cu-Be and Al-Bron?
3- Is it true that the Cu-Be is carcinogenic?
4- Is there exist non-sparking alloy without beryllium, and also completely non-magnetic?
5- What alloy should be used in an atmosphere of acetylene?
6- And the tools of plastic-coated steel are safe?

1- Are there other safe materials or alloys for hazardous atmospheres apart from the Cu-Be and Al-Bron?

Yes, for example copper, tin bronze, brass or manganese bronze.

2- Are copper, brass or tin bronze, substitutes for Cu-Be and Al-Bron?

No. While the sparks will not have energy  enough for igniting explosive atmosphere, these materials have hardness and resistance lower than the Cu-Be and Al-Bron (between 4 to 6 times lower), so they are not suitable for use in hand tools.

Only mallets or hammers can be manufactured in these alloys. Nonetheless, its reduced useful life makes them a less cost-effective even in the short term.

Therefore, copper, brass and tin bronze mallets and hammers are not a substitute for Cu-Be or Al-Bron. These alloys are useful and necessary only when a very low hardness is required, so that the beating therewith not damage the part struck. The choice is easy, if in a normal environment we would use a copper, brass or tin bronze mallet, so we choose these alloys also for the same application in an explosive atmosphere. However, if in a normal environment would select steel  hammers or mallets, in this case the same application in explosive environments require Al-Bron, or even better, Cu-Be.

3- Is it true that the Cu-Be is carcinogenic?

There is some confusion about this issue. Yes, it is shown that beryllium in the form of dust, inhaled for long periods and continuously (in foundries where this alloy is melted and that do not comply with safety rules, basically) can cause lung cancer.

But there is no evidence or recorded cases of the Cu-Be like a reason of cancer, and let alone in its use as a hand tool. The reasons are:

a) The Cu-Be has only 2% of beryllium in its composition

b) It is not in powder form, so you do not inhale it

c) The exposure is minimal

It is for this reason that there is no country in the world to prohibit or restrict the use of this alloy. Moreover, it is a common alloy in the coating of certain aircraft components, precisely because of its low coefficient of friction. Therefore, you can ensure that the risk of Cu-Be tools for the user is infinitely inferior to other agents to which we are exposed daily, such as air pollution (which is proven that it can generate lung cancer).

4- Is there exist non-sparking alloy without beryllium, and also completely non-magnetic?

Yes, bronze manganese (Mn-Bron). It is similar to Al-Bron physical properties, but the lack of iron in its composition, make it completely non-magnetic. However, it is not often used in the manufacture of hand tool because it provides significant advantages over common alloys, yet the cost is higher.

5- What alloy should be used in an atmosphere of acetylene?

Be aware, acetylene is a gas from IIC group, thus the common non-sparking alloys Cu-Be and Al-Bron have no capacity to generate sparks with enough energy to start the deflagration of the acetylene in the form of gas. However, acetylene is a substance which reacts with any alloy with copper composition higher than 65%, creating a new compound called copper acetylide, which is highly explosive. As both Cu-Be alloys and Al-Bron contain more than 80% of copper; they never must be used in acetylene environments. In this case if I had to choose between the two options, it is less dangerous to employ steel tools.

However, there is an alloy called ACETILEX® developed by EGAMASTER, which is safe, thank to its composition (less than 65% of copper) and a lack of potential to create sparks to initiate combustion of acetylene as a gas. It is the only completely safe alternative on the market for use in environments of acetylene.

6- And the tools of plastic-coated steel are safe?

They are not completely safe. Although they have less risk than normal steel tools because they reduce the likelihood of ignition by friction, they have the potential to create sparks with enough energy for igniting an explosive atmosphere, because they retain exposed steel parts for not being possible to coat the active parts. Therefore, they are called sparks reduction tools, not sparking.

Therefore, its use is not recommended for the following reasons:

a) Do not avoid the risk of explosion

b) The plastic coating is susceptible to become damaged further increasing the exposed areas

c) The standard EN 1127-1 prohibits the use of steel made tools made in most zones and groups of gas.

1- What is non-sparking tool?
2- Why is it safe?
3- How to make sure that the tools are safe?
4- What non-sparking alloys exist?
5- What is the difference between the two?
6- How do I decide which alloy is the best option for me?

1- What is non-sparking tool?

It is a tool made of an alloy whose sparks never has enough energy to generate the explosion of an explosive atmosphere, and therefore, is completely safe.

2- Why is it safe?

Mainly because the alloys used have a very low coefficient of friction, which reduces the energy transferred to the particles that emerge from them, and therefore these sparks have heat level less than the minimum required for ignition the explosive atmospheres.

3- How to make sure that the tools are safe?

They are tested under extreme conditions, hundreds of times more stringent than those that may exist in a common explosive environment. Alloy samples are grinded at high speeds creating sparks that are directed to an explosive atmosphere. This particular atmosphere is created by selecting the most dangerous gas (which requires less energy for ignition), and the optimal mix of oxygen to enhance their maximum deflagration capacity. If after 100 repetitions in the atmosphere it has not deflagrated, the alloy is considered completely safe (as in a normal condition of use it would not reached not even a fraction of a friction speeds, or the optimum conditions of ignition).

4- What non-sparking alloys exist?

Although, there are some more alloy, the most widely known are copper beryllium (also called beryllium copper or Cu-Be) and aluminum bronze (also called Al-bron).

5- What is the difference between the two?

Although copper-beryllium alloy is priced between 20% and 40% higher than the aluminum bronze, also has superior mechanical and safety properties, which generally make it the most profitable decision.

- The Cu-Be alloy has a hardness of up to 40HRC, 40% higher than the Al-Bron, so it wears less and has a useful life 40% higher.

- The Cu-Be resistance is a 50% higher than the Al-Bron, therefore it allows for applying 50% more effort without tool breakage.

- The Cu-Be is completely non-magnetic. The Al-Bron, containing 3% of iron is slightly magnetic.

- The Cu-Be is even safer because its sparks have even less power than the Al-Bron, so its use is especially recommended in atmospheres listed in the group IIC.

6- How do I decide which alloy is the best option for me?

Basically the Cu-Be is the best choice in 90% of cases, as their best properties make it more profitable and safe. The Al-Bron is only competitive when the following four conditions are met simultaneously:

- The tool will be used very occasionally, not periodically.

- Great efforts will not be made.

- Not complete non-magnetism is required.

- Will not to be used in atmospheres of IIC group.

If all of these conditions occur at once, the Al-Bron may be the best option. But if only one of these conditions is not met, then the Cu-Be is the right decision.

1- What is an explosive atmosphere?
2- Is a flammable substance explosive atmosphere in any condition?
3- Then, a liquid is not considered explosive atmosphere?
4- What directives control explosive atmospheres?
5- Should we identify and indicate areas with potentially explosive atmospheres?
6- What kind of measures should be taken into account in these areas?
7- Would it be enough to check with detection equipment that there is no explosive atmosphere when working?
8- What elements it affects?
9- Is normal, made in steel, tool ignition source?
10- So, I never can use it in hazardous areas?

1- What is an explosive atmosphere?

It is a mixture that flammable substances (in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts) form with air, in which; after ignition has occurred combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.

2- Is a flammable substance explosive atmosphere in any condition?
No, it is not. Sufficient air and substance mixture must exist. Each substance has a minimum and maximum percentage of air (oxygen) required, out of which combustion does not undergo, and therefore is not considered explosive atmosphere.

3- Then, a liquid is not considered explosive atmosphere?
The liquid itself is not an explosive atmosphere. But all liquid vapours generated on its surface, which when mixed with air, can result in an explosive atmosphere.

4- What directives control explosive atmospheres?
ATEX is the name given to the European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres, more specifically, Directive 1999/92 / EC and the corresponding approximation of the laws of Member States and finally other European standards for prevention.

5- Should we identify and indicate areas with potentially explosive atmospheres?
Yes, it is necessary to classify areas according to the likelihood where hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur. Usually it classified as Zone 0 for gases or 20 for dusts, if an explosive atmosphere is present for periods of more than 1000 hours per year. Zone 1 (or 21) indicates the place, in which an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur between 10 and 1000 hours per year. Zone 2 indicates the place in which the explosive atmosphere persists between 0.1 hours (6 minutes) and 10 hours a year. If this period is shorter, then there is no need to classify the area.

6- What kind of measures should be taken into account in these areas?
The directive states that all potential ignition sources must be avoided, but if it is not possible, they should be at least reduced and in this case, it is important to take measures to mitigate the detrimental effects of possible deflagration.

7- Would it be enough to check with detection equipment that there is no explosive atmosphere when working?
No, it is not enough. It is compulsory to do so, as well as to provide all possible measures to eliminate all foreseeable risk. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that according to the law all necessary safety measures need to be taken no matter if any explosive atmosphere is present or not in a certain moment. If the zone is ATEX classified, there must be used all means in order to avoid or reduce ignition sources and mitigate the consequences of an explosion.

8- What elements it affects?
To all those likely to generate spark, such as: machines, devices, clothing and tools, among others.

9- Is normal, made in steel, tool ignition source?
Yes, it is, according to Directive 1999/92 / EC and EN 1127.

10- So, I never can use it in hazardous areas?
In accordance with the directive, you cannot. In this case non-sparking (safe) tools should be used. EN 1127 norm specifies that you can never use any steel tool in Zones 0, 20 or 1, 21,2,22 if the atmosphere is a gas listed in the IIC group. You also cannot use steel tools in areas 1, 21,2,22 in atmospheres of other groups if its normal use generates sparks (hammers, files, saws, etc.).

Published by DROPS (Dropped Object Prevention Scheme), the industry wide initiative dedicated to improving dropped object performance.

Revision Record


Issued by:

Issue 2

April 2011

Replaces DROPS Best Practice for Safe Use of

Tools at Height (2005)



The recommended guidelines presented in this document are issued after considerable research and validation. They represent ‘best practice’, as agreed by general consensus of the members of the DROPS Workgroup.

Certain processes and procedures detailed here-in may require modification to suit specific locations, activities or facilities.  However, the underlying guidelines are considered best practice and are a recommended component of any integrated dropped object management scheme.

We challenge you to compare your current working practice with this best practice and we hope it helps you improve safety in your workplace. If you consider your current practice to be better – please let us know!

These guidelines are subject to regular review and update in response to improved methodologies and technologies.  Any comments, suggestions or recommendations should be notified to the issuing authority where they will be considered as part of the continuous review process


There is a significant risk of dropped objects when using tools and portable equipment at height and a large number of such incidents are regularly reported.

To combat this problem, it is recommended that all tools and equipment used at height are secured against falling. The following provides DROPS recommended Best Practice for the safe use of tools and portable equipment at height.


The following general recommendations should be observed when using tools / equipment at height:

  • · Tools and portable equipment used at height shall be adequately secured to either the user or the workplace.
  • · Tools used at height shall have a lanyard attachment point that does not compromise the tool’s effectiveness.
  • · All tools, lanyards and attachment points shall be inspected prior to use and prior to their return to the Tools at Height Toolkit, to ensure they are fit for purpose.
  • · Do not modifiy any tools or securing equipment.
  • · “At height” tools shall be used for all tasks undertaken at 2 metres or above, or where there is the potential for tools to drop more than 2 metres, eg when working at or near a handrail.
  • · Any deviation from recommended best practice shall be undertaken through a documented MOC (management of change) procedure.
  • · All personnel working at height and / or using ”at height” compliant tools shall be adequately trained.
  • · If any tool or equipment is dropped, or if the retention system failed such that there was potential for the tool or equipment to drop, it must be reported immediately.
  • · While work at height is ongoing, the ”Drop Zone” below the worksite shall be barriered off.


The following recommendations relate to specific tools and tool types used at height:

  • · Multi-part tools shall have systems to prevent separation (eg sockets must be locked onto extension bars, knuckles, ratchets and breaker bars; it must be impossible to remove jaws from shifters or pliers etc).
  • · All hammers shall have steel or steel composite shafts, non-slip handles and a head locking mechanism to prevent separation of the head from the shaft.
  • · Cold chisels and associated hand protecting guards shall have retention in place for both chisel and guard.
  • · The use of flogging spanners shall be subject to a specific risk assessment.
  • · Sockets, extensions and ratchets etc should be pin locked.
  • · Any equipment or tool exceeding 5kg in weight shall be subject to the recommendations for ”Heavy Tools and Equipment” (see Section 5).


The following represents best practice for lanyards and attachment points:

 · All tooling used 'at height' shall be lanyard attached to the toolbag, the equipment loop on the harness or the workplace. As such, tooling should be manufactured and supplied with tested and certified lanyard attachment points.
 · The lanyard attachment point on the tool must still enable the tool to be used effectively.
 · The length of lanyard wire should be appropriate to the unhindered function of the tool, and the tool and wire shall have been tested and proven to withstand a drop of double the lanyard length.
 · All lanyards should be fitted with Screwgate rated carabiners. For handtools = 5kg, weight-rated carabiners should be used.
 · All carabiners, lanyards and shackles shall be marked and traceable.
 · All lanyards shall be serial numbered and have date of manufacture. This will enable user to assess age and condition in an objective manner.
 · All wire lanyard terminations should be designed to avoid potential hand injury due to protruding wire tails.
 · The standard use of wrist lanyards is discouraged, however, it is recognised that they may be appropriate to specific tasks, eg within confined spaces.
 · The lanyard attachment points on tools should be manufactured in such a way that they cannot be removed.
 · For tools and equipment = 5kg, a minimum 4mm certified wire is recommended.


When using heavy tools at height, weighing 5kg or more, the following should be observed:

  • · The use of heavy tools and hand-held machinery at height must be specifically risk assessed.
  • · All heavy tools and hand-held machines used at height must be secured against falling when in use and while being transported.
  • · Securing devices must be dimensioned in accordance with verifiable calculations and documented free-fall tests.
  • · If a heavy tool or item of equipment has fallen and a lanyard has arrested the fall, both the lanyard and the tool / equipment shall be removed from service until they can be fully inspected and confirmed as fit for purpose.
  • · Securing points for tools and machines must be in place above the work site and the securing device must be as taut as possible.
  • · The design of heavy tools and equipment should physically preclude the use of small and medium carabiners.


The following recommendations relate to the safe use of power tools at height:

  • · For electrically powered tools, the supply cable sheave must be secured to the power tool case and the supply socket to prevent excessive strain being placed on internal conductors.
  • · For pneumatic tools, the air hose must be secured to prevent strain on the fittings at  either end.
  • · Any retention that is fitted to power tools shall never be solely secured to the power cable or   air hose.
  • · Sockets, extensions and ratchets etc should be pin locked to power tools (electric and pneumatic) to prevent accidental release, and battery powered tools should have an attachment to lock the battery in place.
  • · Power tools must have a lanyard with a load rating appropriate to the weight of the tool and the attachments.


When working at height on electrical installations, lanyard attachment points and lanyards must be electrically isolated from the tool itself, to the same level of protection as the tool grips.


Note:  Tools specifically designed for working at height on electrical equipment should not be used for general purpose work at height.


The following represents best practice for tool storage:

  • · When not in use, "at height" tools must be kept in a secure Tool Storage Facility.
  • · Tools should be stored in such a manner that a simple visual inspection can highlight any discrepancies or omissions in the tool box inventory, eg 2-colour laser cut foam inserts.
  • · The Tool Storage Facility shall have a detailed inventory and should be kept locked when not in use. When any tools are in use, it is recommended that a “tools aloft” sign is used to indicate this.
  • · One person per shift should be designated as responsible for the Tool Storage Facility; to serve as keyholder and custodian of the Tools Register. The Responsible Person will log all tools in and out on the Tools Register.
  • · In addition to the tools, the Tool Storage Facility shall be equipped with:

                         -  sufficient numbers of load rated tool lanyards

                         -   special belts for fastening tools and bag

                         -  sufficient numbers of tool bags with internal fastening devices.


The following guidelines should be observed to ensure the safe and effective use of tool bags, pouches and belts at height:

  • · Tools shall be taken aloft in some form of kit bag.
  • · The kit bag shall be attached to the user, and leave both hands free.
  • · Tools are to be attached to the kit bag (not merely put in it).
  • · Carrying pouches shall always be used for radios and any other portable equipment with no dedicated attachment point.
  • · The locks on carrying pouches should have a double securing mechanism to guard against unintentional opening.
  • · Belts with snap fasteners are not recommended.
  • · Tool lanyards shall be used between the tools and belt or bag.


Certain inspection and testing is recommended, as follows:

  • · All tooling manufactured for “at height” use should be drop tested (with 50% safety factor) and certified.
  • · Tooling attachment points should be tested to assess pull weights and drop weight fracture.
  • · All tooling should be inspected and approved for use by a competent second person at its place of operation.
  • · All lanyards should be batch tested to failure and certified by an independent inspector.
  • · Guidance for inspecting tools prior to use should be provided (including acceptance / rejection criteria). This guidance is to be readily available at the Tool Storage Facility.


The following processes and procedures are recommended:

  • · Procedures and practices should be implemented to ensure that all users are aware of the scope and purpose of “At Height” tooling and any particular methods of work.
  • · In restricted areas, eg derrick, flare boom, cranes etc, tools used at height should be logged in and out using a simple Tools Register to ensure that no tools have been left behind.
  • · The person designated as responsible for the Tool Storage Facility and Tools Register shall check the contents of the storage facility and the Register at the end of every shift.


Other associated DROPS products and guidance include:

  • · DROPS Campaign Workpack (Establishing A DROPS System)
  • · DROPS Reliable Securing Booklet
  • · DROPS Pre-task Prompt Cards
  • · DROPS Calculators
  • · DROPS Training
  • · Recommended Guidelines: Pre-task DROPS Assessments, Checks and Precautions
  • · DROPS Recommended Guidelines for the Use of Restricted Access Areas (Red Zones)

For details of these and many more resources, visit

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A pipe could be defined as follows:

Part hollow, usually cylindrical and generally open at both ends”.

Within industry, piping means "a system of pipes used to convey flids (liquids and gases) from one location to another". The engineering discipline of "piping design" studies the efficient tranport of fluids.


Principal materials:
A, B, C, X42, X46, X52, X60, A179, A192, T1, STKM11A, STKM12A, STB340, J55, M55, K55, L80, N80, P110, 20G, (St 45.8),  320, 360, 440, St 37, St 44, St 35, St45, St 52, 10#, 20#, 35#, 45#, Q195, Q235, Q345, (16Mn) Q390, etc.

Transport fluid, high pressure pipes, petroleum industry, pipes, structural tubes, etc...


Common Standards:

- DIN-2440 (EN 10255 rule replaced the first one)
This rule (EN 10255) was published in October 2005 and affects non-alloy steel pipes suitable for welding and threading.
The rule EN 10255, cancels or replaces other Spanish rules, European rules and international rules used for over 10 years.

- DIN2441

- API 5L (American Petroleum institution): Is the rule for oil pipe.

Bellow shows a chart with equivalents of the legislation:

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According to thickness pipes are divided in two series: Medium series (M) and heavy series (H) and three types: type L, type L1 and type L2.

L= ligeht
*Weight per unit length of black pipe with plain end.

Medium series M

Thread size

Nominal diameter DN

Specified outside diameter

Outside diameter

Specified wall thickness
T (mm)

Weight per length unit of black pipe

Max. (mm)

Min. (mm)

Smooth end (kg/m)

With sleeve (kg/m)

















































1      1/4








1      1/2
















2      1/2








































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To work and immobilize a steel tube, are advised to use the vise to a plumber, the parallel bench vices, the Tristand and chain vice.




A good pipe clamping is essential to avoid any accidents and help to get a better cut.

For this it is essential to have an adequate   " pipe bracket" , for example:


Once the pipe is perfectly placed, it can be worked on it (cut, thread, etc.)

There are several ways and tricks to cut a pipe, but if we want a perfect finish and safe cutting without any effort, we recommend using the right tools to do it: tube cutter or hack saw. These tools are designed for this type of cutting by cutting quality.

Below are shown different types of cutter EGA Master brand:

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For bending a pipe there are many ways and one of them is to use a bending machine.

A bending machine perfectly suited to bending steel pipes for conveyance of water, gas, etc. ¼ "÷ 3" is the CURVAMATIC.

This machine has a two-speed system that allows rapid automatic approach and a smooth bending without changing piston. Prepared with double plate, which gives maximum consistency during bending.


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