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November 30, 2012

Static Electricity in the Workplace

Employees with childhood memories of using static electricity to ZAP a brother or sister may not realize that under many common workplace conditions, static electricity poses a significant hazard to people and property. In fact, static electricity hazards are common to a wide variety of industries.

Static electricity causes two main workplace concerns:
  • Ignition of flammable materials or atmospheres, causing fires that endanger employees and property.
  • Harm to sensitive electronic components. Electrostatic discharge costs the electronics industry millions of dollars annually in damaged and degraded parts.

Browse Static Safety Signs
Static buildup results from some form of friction. This can occur from walking across a synthetic floor covering, liquids flowing through pipes or spraying through nozzles, operation of machines with rubberized belts or even by handling plastic pipes and materials. The electricity collected on the surface of the object can eventually discharge a spark with enough strength to damage electronic components - or ignite flammable vapors, gases and dusts in the environment. These static sparks can suddenly jump between two solids, a solid and a liquid or between two liquids, endangering employees and property.

Grounding and bonding are commonly used to prevent static buildup. Grounding connects one or more conductive objects to the ground so any built up electricity is harmlessly discharged. Bonding connects objects with a conductor to equalize electrical buildup and prevent discharge from one object to another.

To ensure a safe and productive workplace, employees must be educated about static hazards, with static hazard safety signs and clearly labeled static-prevention equipment.

Learn more about static electricity safety with these links:

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