At first thought it’s hard to believe that human beings can be an electrical hazard in the workplace. Of all the things humans have the ability to get wrong, discharging electricity is one of the last things that comes to mind.
The truth is we’re all a big walking organism of built up electrical charge. And occasionally when that charge is discharged it can have devastating consequences.
Have you even just innocently been going about your business and then touched something and got an electric shock? Of course it’s nothing serious and it’s harmless to you but it gives you a good little surprise as you discharge electricity and get that little zap of power.
But although harmless to humans there’s still a lot of energy that goes into these ‘little’ sparks. It takes more than 3000 Volts to feel, 5000 Volts to hear, and 10,000 Volts to see a discharge.
This kind of discharge is known as electrostatic discharge (ESD). And while it is harmless to us, when it comes to things like electrical components or flammable liquids or gasses, ESD can have dire consequences.
The risk of ESD is so serious that each year, an estimated $40 billion in losses from ESD damage occur in the electronics industry alone.
There’s only one way to prevent this kind of loss from happening. And that’s to ensure that areas of even entire production facilities are ESD free. These areas are also known as electrostatic protected areas (ESA).
But just roping off a particular area isn’t enough to stop electrical discharge. Companies have to invest in the right kind of equipment, furniture and accessories for workers to ensure that even inside the ESA there is no chance of the smallest spark causing millions of pounds worth of damage.
After all the last thing anyone wants is a whole production facility destroyed because someone shuffled their feet on the carpet and clapped their hands…