If you work in an environment where ESD (electrostatic damage) is an on-going concern, it’s extremely important to create a safe ESD workstation space. ESD workstations are usually set up in protective zones called EPAs, or electrostatic protected areas.
Many people don’t realize that creating a safe workstation will enhance their productivity and will often reduce costs associated with ESD damage. This guide will cover all the elements you’ll need to properly set up a workstation that is both safe and functional.
Setting Up Your ESD Workstation
Recommended Grounding Steps:
- Grounding all components of the workstation and personnel to the same electrical ground point
- Connecting the common point ground to the equipment grounding conductor or the third wire electrical ground connection
The ESD Association specifies that “grounding is especially important for effective ESD control.” To secure the safety of your ESD workstation and EPA you need to evaluate your ESD control measures on a regular basis and clearly define what measures need to be taken to effectively carry out ESD safety.
From the Floor-Up
Conductive and dissipative floor materials allow electrostatic charges and dissipation to follow a path to safely ground. Sensitive electronic equipment, tools, and products are highly susceptible to ESD events.
Types of ESD workstation safety equipment:
- ESD Matting – Made from antistatic and static dissipative materials with synthetic rubber.
- ESD Foot Grounder – Incorporates a 1 Megohm safety resistor with a conductive surface and antistatic inner surface.
- Floor Marking Tape – Highly visible by marking ESD protection area boundaries.
- ESD Refuse Sack – Made with static dissipative materials for use in ESD protected areas.
- Conductive Waste Bin – Made with conductive Fibreboard or Polypropylene.
- EPA Chair – Dissipates static electricity buildup.
- ESD Flooring – Ensures that ESD charges are removed in a safe and controlled manner.
You and your workforce will make contact with the floor more than any other element in your ESD workstation and EPA. The more mobility your workspace requires, the greater the chances of ESD events occurring due to increased friction. Using the right floor materials and ESD protected equipment will ensure you protect sensitive equipment, tools, and products from incurring damage.
Your ESD workstation should be designed for just one person. Multiple people working at one station will greatly increase the risk of ESD events happening. ESD workstations should be situated within your EPA. The purpose of an ESD workstation is to limit the potential to damage sensitive items by using proper safety materials and equipment.
9 Elements of an ESD Workstation:
- Bench Matting – Multi or single-layered with a finish made from antistatic and static dissipative materials with synthetic rubber.
- ESD Bags – Static shielding, conductive, and antistatic bags that protect contents from the damage of electromagnetic wave and static.
- ESD Screwdrivers – Static dissipative materials that protect sensitive equipment.
- Earth Bonding Points – Stainless steel stud with mounting screw ring terminal to allow connection of wrist straps and grounding cords.
- Earth Bonding Plugs – Incorporates banana sockets and a 10mm male steel stud.
- Corstat Component Boxes – Conductive coating with faraday cage protection and antistatic foam.
- Conductive PCB Rack – Conductive properties protect circuit boards during transportation and storage.
- Conductive Brushes – Conductive nylon and plastic brushes minimize static charges when cleaning PCB and other sensitive components.
- Ionizing (Ionising) Blower – Ionizes a targeted workspace to eliminate static during production.
Make sure your workstations are equipped with grounding stations and that personnel are using grounding straps at all times. At the very least, your ESD workstation needs to be equipped with ESD matting, bonding points, and earth bonding plugs.
Dress for Safety
They say dress to impress. We say dress to protect. Non-antistatic clothing poses a significant risk of generating electrostatic charges that can cause damage to nearby equipment and products. Dry ESD workstation environments are especially sensitive to ESD events. Wearing static control clothing helps to reduce ESD risks.
3 Common Types of Protective Clothing:
- Antistatic Clothing – Made from static dissipative materials displaying the ESD symbol.
- ESD Gloves – Gloves with protective coatings, or woven with copper or carbon thread, make them ideal for handling sensitive electronic parts and components.
- ESD Wrist Strap – These conduct ESD from the body to the antistatic mat, allowing safe removal of the charge.
The most important thing is to make sure antistatic clothing is grounded at all times.
Using the Right Supplies and Equipment
The possibilities for producing electrostatic charges are almost endless. Your ESD workstation should be equipped from all angles with ESD-safe supplies and equipment. Everything possible should be made or coated with static dissipative and conductive materials to reduce the risks of ESD occurring.
Common Supplies and Equipment:
- Corstat Transit Packs – Protects sensitive equipment during transport from static and physical damage.
- Antistatic Ring Binders – Made from specially developed PVC materials that are permanently antistatic.
- Conductive Tote Bins – Has static dissipative qualities that won’t wear or wash away.
- Wrist Strap & Footwear Tester – Indicates the status of footwear and wristbands by means of high and low fail indicators.
- IC Workstation & Mat Cleaner – Low ionic, general purpose workstation cleaner that is biodegradable, alcohol-free, and odorless.
- ESD Wash Bottle – Cleanroom safe static dissipative wash bottle.
The more detailed you are with the supplies and equipment you use, the safer your ESD workstation will be.
Read the Signs
EPAs need protection from electrostatically charged items, and potentially charged items that can cause damage if brought into the ESD workstation area. People need to know where your EPA starts and where it ends, where to enter and where to exit. Using ESD and antistatic signs and labels will greatly enhance the safety of your EPA.
2 Types of ESD Signage:
- ESD Labels – Yellow ESD caution labels that are suitable for automatic dispensing.
EPA Signage – ESD floor sign, protected area sign, caution sign, and exit sign protected with antistatic coating.
Creating an EPA with protected zones for ESD workstations will reduce the chances of generating electrostatic charges, allowing workers to improve productivity and safely complete their activities. Examine your ESD risks, evaluate the capabilities of your organization to address safety issues, and then make a list of the ESD equipment, tools, and supplies you need.