ESD Control Plan, ESD Safety

ESD Safety – How to make your workspace ESD safe

ESD – Safety – Creating an ESD safe workspace is one of the best things you can do to ensure a productive, secure, happy environment. Electrostatic damage (ESD) is caused by a sudden flow of electricity between two objects. It is often triggered by physical contact.

Make it ESD Safe by Minimizing the Risk

Tools, workbenches, clothing and electronic equipment can all increase the risk of an ESD event. Because almost all work environments include some variation of these items, it’s necessary to take safety precautions that will protect employees and sensitive equipment. Manufacturing warehouses, assembly lines and workshops are all extremely susceptible to the dangers of ESD.

Conductive Versus Insulator Materials:

Objects that are made with conductive materials let electrons flow freely from particle to particle, allowing a charge to transfer across the entire surface of the object. These materials are referred to as conductorsInsulators are the opposite of conductors. They restrict the flow of electrons from atom to atom and molecule to molecule, holding the excess charge in the initial location of charging during a transfer. Isolators can be used to restrict the ability of conductors to transfer a charge.

Three things you can do to create an ESD safe workspace:

  1. ESD-proof all tools
  2. Require ESD safe clothing
  3. Make all surfaces ESD safe

ESD Safe Tools

Paper, pens, cups, screwdrivers, pliers, workbenches and any other type of tool you can think of has the potential to contribute to the creation of an ESD event. There are two ways to minimize the danger of unsafe tools:

  • Purchase ESD safe equipment and supplies to replace unsafe tools
  • Purchase insulators that negate the effects of conductive tools

Purchasing ESD safe equipment and supplies is the larger of the two investments, but the equipment you select will be much safer. Insulators are also effective at reducing the chances of an ESD event occurring. Both options will allow workers to interact with tools without increasing the danger of building up a charge.

ESD Safe Clothing

Each time we move we create friction that has the potential to form an electrical charge. The type of clothing we wear makes a huge difference on the ability of a charge to develop. ESD safe clothing eliminates triboelectric generation with fibers that react by stretching, rather than breaking. The best antistatic clothes are man-made synthetic materials that incorporate a combination of plastic and rubber materials, greatly reducing the chances of electrical generation.

ESD Safe Surfaces

Chairs, tables, flooring, and walls should all be reviewed for ESD safety. Placing ESD mats on the floor is vital. The chances of an ESD event occurring increase when workers stand rather than sit. Grounding all elements in the workspace is also extremely important. The use of wrist straps, heel grounders, and other grounding equipment will go a long way towards protecting the workforce and sensitive equipment.

ESD Safe Environment

Once you’ve made your tools, clothing, and work surfaces ESD safe, it’s time to turn to the actual environment. If your workspace experiences relative humidity there’s a distinct possibility an ESD event could occur. The drier the air the safer the environment from the danger of static electricity buildup. 30% to 70% relative humidity is the range your workspace should be required to reduce the chances of static electricity buildup.