ESD Equipment, ESD Safety

Common misuses of ESD products – and how they hurt your company

The correct use of ESD products ensures safety for both your employees and your company’s products. Per the recommendations of the ESD Association, ESD safety measures should be implemented in many different areas of your business, including:

  •      Receiving
  •      Inspection
  •      Stores and warehouses
  •      Assembly
  •      Test and inspection
  •      Research and development
  •      Packaging
  •      Field service repair
  •      Offices and laboratories
  •      Cleanrooms

When it comes to safety, different areas will require different ESD products. The shipping and receiving sections will require the use of ESD packaging materials and specialized ESD tapes, whereas the assembly department will have a greater need for safety equipment like grounding cords and matting.

Common Misuses of Standard ESD Products

The most common cause of failures in ESD safety comes from the misuse of safety products. Take the common ESD wrist strap, for instance: when properly installed and used, it can significantly lower the threat of an accidental discharge from an employee working on a sensitive product. However, wrist straps could lose their efficacy in situations where:

  • The strap is not connected to a grounded workbench or grounding bar
  • An employee wears the strap in such a way that it does not fully contact their skin
  • The strap is worn too loosely and could potentially fall off the employee while they are handling a sensitive product

ESD clothing is often one of the most difficult product types to use properly, if only because of employee’s varying preferences for how to wear their clothing. In order to ensure the highest level of ESD safety, it may be necessary to issue standards or policies on how to wear ESD clothing in the workplace. These policies may cover everything from how to choose ESD clothing to mandating the use of ESD shoes.

Static discharge threats also arise when ESD packaging is not used properly (or at all). All electrically-sensitive products must be packaged in ESD-safe materials; something as simple as a cardboard box or polythene bags could potentially cause a harmful discharge onto a product.

Many ESD products can also experience failure due to simple wear-and-tear. One organization found that its ESD mats gradually lost their electrical resistance over time due to the fluorescent lights that were used in the workplace.

Like manufacturing equipment, ESD products must occasionally be repaired or replaced depending on their level of wear. However, such actions often save money in the long run by ensuring productivity and safety.

The Human Factor in ESD Product Safety

ESD product safety can be compromised through outright product failure, such as a grounding wrist strap that breaks. However, the efficacy of these safety products can also be affected by human error and misuse.

The human body is capable of storing between 500V and 2,500V of static electricity over the course of the workday – “far above the level that damages circuits yet below the human perception threshold”. Indeed, the greatest ESD threats in your manufacturing environment may not even know the damage they could potentially cause.

Every ESD safety plan should include instructions or training on how to properly use safety equipment. Occasional re-training may be necessary for employees over time.

Need Guidance and Advice on ESD Products? Let Us Help

Antistat is the world’s #1 supplier of consumables for ESD and production environments. Our team of experts can help you find the very best products for your company’s manufacturing facilities, as well as providing guidance on how to ensure their proper implementation and use.  Take a look at our online catalogue or contact us directly.

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