The essential things to know about ESD matsadmin
In many work environments, static electricity is one of the greatest threats to employee safety. A stray spark from an electrostatic discharge (ESD) can cause serious harm to an individual and prompt damage to highly sensitive equipment. Because of this, the importance of having proper ESD safety equipment is paramount.
Static electricity can be generated several different ways. Using a “ground up” approach is best when preventing electrical build up. To this end, all ESD safety plans should include the presence and use of ESD mats.
How ESD Mats Function
An ESD mat – also called an antistatic mat – is a covering that shields an individual or a piece of equipment from static electricity discharge. These mats come in a variety of sizes and are typically placed on the floor or a workstation surface.
ESD mats can be manufactured to fit:
- A common workbench or desk
- The floor space in work area
- Rooms or large open sections
- Entire manufacturing floors using specialized ESD floor coverings or tiles
As with other forms of static safety equipment, ESD mats serve a twofold function: they dissipate the static electricity of individuals or objects, as well as preventing the buildup of static electricity in the work environment. Their use, in combination with grounding wrist straps, antistatic clothing, antistatic tools, and antistatic packaging, will serve to reduce the possible threats of an accidental electrostatic discharge.
ESD mats are constructed from many of the same materials as other forms of ESD safety equipment. Most mats contain three layers:
- A top layer made with dissipative vinyl that discharges static electricity
- A middle layer that directs discharged electricity into the ground
- A base of anti-skid foam for user safety
Some ESD mats may contain “anti-fatigue” features, such as extra foam that can enhance the comfort in workspaces that require extended periods of standing.
Common Environments Where ESD Mats Are Used
ESD mats are commonly found in environments where electrostatic sensitive products are present, or where static electricity can potentially cause harm. These often include:
- Clean rooms
- Microchip and auto manufacturing plants
- Equipment assembly rooms
- Computer repair shops
- Operating rooms
- Environments where flammable materials are present
- Automobile repair shops
- Medical and dental offices
- Computer server rooms
The use of ESD mats is common in companies where employees regularly come into contact with ESD-sensitive products; however, these mats are also necessary in situations where employees may only occasionally enter ESD-sensitive environments, such as back office staff who sometimes need to enter a clean room or manufacturing space.
How Do I Know If My Company Needs ESD Mats?
It’s advisable to have ESD mats if your employees are constantly handling products with sensitivity to static electricity, or if they work with flammable materials. It should be noted, however, that ESD mats are just one component of a comprehensive ESD safety plan; grounding straps and other forms of equipment are required to provide the highest level of safety.