Circuit & System Protection

Clearing the Static

30 August 2023 Circuit & System Protection

Greg Barron, Actum Group director.

To achieve effective electrostatic discharge (ESD) control, it is crucial to conduct regular testing and measurements. The use of grounding products and testing equipment becomes essential to verify the proper functionality of static control systems in the work environment.

Among the main contributors to static charge generation are people themselves: as they move around and interact with objects, static electricity can accumulate. Therefore, grounding systems play a vital role in maintaining a consistent electrical potential among components, personnel, and other conductors.

There are some key elements that form part of an effective grounding system in the workplace.

Workstation grounding:

• ESD common grounding point: an electrical junction to which all ESD grounds are connected via grounding cords.

• Work surface bench mats: dissipative bench mats with a resistivity of 1 x 109 or less. The mat must be grounded.

• Grounding mats and dissipative flooring: to avoid static build-up when walking, ESD floor mats, vinyl, epoxy, or paint in the ESD protected area can be utilised.

• Grounding testers: ensure that a workstation is tested before, during, and consistently after the installation of your ESD grounding system.

• Proper maintenance and inspection: regular checks and maintenance of grounding components to identify and address any issues promptly.

Personnel grounding devices:

• Wrist straps: a conductive elastic band or metallic expendable strap comprised of a conductive inner surface.

• Heel grounders or ESD shoes: frequently used where the technician needs more freedom of movement. Conductive shoes or foot grounders should be worn on both feet.

• Clothing: static dissipative clothing to prevent dangerous static fields from interacting with components and causing damage.

• Chairs: static is generated when personnel sit or stand. To prevent this, ESD chairs with a resistance to ground of less than 1x1010 Ω is recommended.

By incorporating these key elements into an effective grounding system, workplaces can significantly reduce the risk of electrostatic discharge incidents and protect personnel and valuable equipment from potential damage.


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