ESD safety is of paramount importance for many industries that include the use of, and have close proximity to sensitive electronic equipment. Thanks to the efforts of the ESD Association, ESD safety standards are in place to aid businesses that want to improve workplace production, efficiency, and security.
ESD Safety Standards
The purpose of implementing ESD safety standards is to provide guidance for organizations that need to establish an ESD control program. Creating a control program is one of the most effective ways companies can adhere to safety standards. Why? Because they allow organizations to formulate solutions that address common challenges associated with reducing ESD risks.
ESD safety standards are grouped into three main categories:
- ESD program guidance and requirements
- Products and procedure requirements
- Standardized testing methods
Together these three groups of ESD safety standards support the implementation, success and expansion of ESD control programs by protecting work environments and mitigating risks.
The 12 essential areas affected by ESD safety standards:
- Compliance verification
- ESD control program
- Flooring and footwear
- Garments & gloves
- Hand tools
- Symbols & signage
- Work surfaces
An ESD-safe cleanroom greatly reduces the risk of ESD events occurring by using grounding and static dissipative materials and equipment. Everything from hand tools, matting, storage, ionization and grounding straps are required to create a cleanroom. The proper tools and supplies will allow you to create a hyper-clean environment that eliminates the majority of ESD risks.
2. Compliance Verifications
ESD safety is most effective when paired with compliance verifications that cover the requirements needed to establish an effective ESD control program. Essentially, it’s the roadmap that organizations create that allows them to verify whether their control plan is achieving the desired results.
3. ESD Control Program
Creating an ESD control program starts by identifying ESD sensitive items and environments in your workspace that require protection. This will help you decide where ESD protected areas (EPAs) need to be set up. Here are the must-have elements to include in your ESD control program:
- ESD training
- Compliance verifications
- Grounding and personnel safety equipment
- EPA requirements
- Packaging systems
- Cleanroom requirements
4. Flooring and Footwear
Flooring and footwear are common sources of static electricity buildup. It’s important to backup your ESD safety standards with floor materials and footwear that properly dissipate electrostatic charges without causing damage. Combining ESD protective flooring with ESD-safe footwear is vitally important for any ESD control program.
5. Garments & Gloves
Just like footwear, clothing also poses serious safety risks because they commonly build significant electrostatic charges. The most common and widely-used type of ESD-safe clothing is antistatic. This type of clothing helps mitigate the inherent static electricity buildup in garments by using synthetic, dissipative fabrics.
Providing ESD-safe gloves is necessary to support ESD safety initiatives. Everyone who works with sensitive electronic equipment or in close proximity to sensitive equipment needs to wear protective gloves.
There are several types of antistatic gloves organizations can choose from, including antistatic nylon, antistatic polyester and antistatic arc flash.
ESD safety measures need to be backed up with an operational grounding strategy that allows charges to dissipate without causing ESD events. Personnel, equipment, supplies and tools should all be grounded. One of the most effective pieces of grounding equipment you can employ is wrist straps.
7. Hand Tools
Personnel that use tools on a regular basis in an ESD protective area need to be equipped with antistatic equipment to fulfill their job functions. This helps reduce the chances of electrostatic charge buildup. Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers and tweezers should all be ESD-safe.
ESD safety zones require the use of ionizers to create a balanced environment that is less conducive to the occurrence of ESD events. Ionization is a good solution when certain insulators cannot be replaced with an ESD-safe alternative e.g. a computer monitor.
Highly sensitive equipment is very susceptible to ESD risk during shipping due to a variety of electrostatic hazards. There are three common types of ESD packaging that greatly reduce the incidence of ESD:
- Intimate packaging - can come into direct contact with the product
- Secondary packaging - cannot come into direct contact with the product
Proximity packaging – can be used for physical protection
There’s a greater chance of ESD occurring when personnel stand at their workstations rather than sit. It’s therefore important to encourage personnel to sit, and to also supply seating that enhances ESD safety. Good quality ESD-safe seating is comprised of antistatic fabrics, casters, bases and other components that decrease the buildup of static friction.
11. Symbols and Signage
Utilizing ESD symbols and signage around ESD protective areas provides important safety reminders to personnel. ESD marking tape helps identify where safe zones begin, while exit signs and entrance signs remind workers not to proceed without protection or anti static-proof equipment.
12. Work Surfaces
Work benches, tables, desks and floors are all common sources of electrostatic buildup. ESD and antistatic mats drastically reduce the chances of ESD events occurring by providing avenues for charges to ground.
Following the best-practices associated with these twelve elements of ESD safety standards is the best way to increase the safety of your business while protecting your workers, products and equipment.