When we think about health and safety in the workplace, static electricity is not discussed often enough. However, it is a hidden danger that needs more discussion and attention.
Static electricity can pose a threat in almost any workplace, but most commonly in the manufacturing, production and processing industries. Due to its invisible nature, risk assessments of our workplaces often miss static electricity. However, it poses a serious threat if not identified and dealt with accordingly.
To ensure our employees are protected, it’s important to learn about static electricity, what it is, how it poses a risk to employees and how to effectively deal with it in the workplace.
What Is Static Electricity?
To most of us, static electricity is a small nuisance that might give us a little shock when we touch something or someone. It can also damage electrical goods in our home. But what is static electricity?
When a material or item holds a net electrical charge — positive or negative — it is considered to have a static charge. This static charge reduces over time, depending on the material. Plastic can hold an electrical charge much longer than metal. You may notice in winter certain fabrics made of plastic material can give you a shock — such as a blanket or even your sofa. Even a cat can carry an electric charge in its thick fur if the air is dry enough.
Dangers of Static Electricity in the Workplace
Many years ago, static electricity wasn’t such an issue in the workplace because many manufacturing processes did not involve the same materials and friction as today’s processes.
In today’s factories, we use a huge number of different materials, heat and humidity. There are also lot’s of repeated actions, such as friction and separation. This mix has led to modern workplaces becoming hotspots for the buildup of static electricity.
The most common danger of static electricity is the shock experienced when a material has an electrical charge. In the workplace, this shock can be significantly greater than any shock you receive from a blanket at home.
In an industrial environment, like a factory or work floor, the electrical shock built up can quite easily become dangerous for workers. For example, a person operating machinery is at high risk from any static electrical charge buildup. Once they touch an earthed object, they could potentially receive a hazardous electric shock.
In the workplace, this shock could cause all types of accidents, including falling into machinery, other people, to the floor, dizziness – or injury from the shock alone.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Static Electricity
There is now plenty of specialised equipment that can be easily applied to control static electricity in most workplaces. Static elimination ionising bars and charging equipment are very successful at helping workers avoid the dangers of static electricity. There are also a number of cleaning systems from Ziegener and Frick that can be used with moving webs and 3D parts to eliminate the dangers of static electricity further.
As our manufacturing processes continue to develop, the need for proper static removal and cleaning is becoming more important in safeguarding workers. The effective removal of static electricity in the workplace not only improves the productivity of our machinery but can also help reduce the risk to workers.
eStat Solutions has extensive knowledge of a broad range of manufacturing processes and so can offer the most appropriate static solutions. We have a comprehensive range of solutions, including ATEX products, anti static guns, nozzles, Simco-Ion IQ Platform, web cleaning, ESD products, static meters and measurement equipment, anti-static ionising bars, power units, perforation detection and static charging equipment.
Contact us today on 01952 31 31 42 or email us at [email protected] for professional advice and help with your static electricity issues.