Electrostatic discharge is one of the most frequently overlooked nuisances in any given setting. In fact, it is an extremely important factor to consider in commercial settings where ESD can be much more than a simple nuisance- a serious hazard.
Due to friction, a lot of surfaces in the workplace and other settings can acquire a static charge.
This static may discharge in the form of a small spark which can be dangerous around flammable substances and even interfere with sensitive tools and electronics.
Additionally, statically charged surfaces can also attract dust particles and other contaminants more strongly, compromising the general cleanliness of the area.
But Does Paper In ESD Area Pose A Risk? Let’s talk about it!
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There are several approaches that can be taken to eliminate the impact of ESD in workplaces and even at home settings. For example, a lot of people use anti-static bands to ground their belongings and provide a safe passageway for the discharge of static. You can also get anti-static fabrics, clothing, shoes, and most other garments. In commercial settings, people may even employ the use of entirely ESD flooring and carpeting.
ESD control is necessary for certain environments, particularly settings associated with things like healthcare and sensitive electronics. In order to ensure that static discharge does not wreak havoc where it is not needed, it is possible to create what is called an ESD-protected area.
What is an ESD Protected Area?
ESD protected zones are designated areas that are designed to be free of electrostatic buildup and discharge. These can be simple storage areas or even actual workstations. Typically, ESD-protected areas are employed in commercial and professional settings to ensure sensitive equipment and components do not get fried by this invisible danger. These zones are typically marked with the help of signs and stickers to ensure best practices.
An ESD protected area will consist of ESD safe flooring as well as furniture including workbenches and shelves. These areas also use grounded and dissipative items to facilitate the safe discharge of any static buildup in the area. Insulators are typically kept far away because they cannot be grounded. As a result, they pose a threat for unsafe static discharge.
Does Paper in ESD Area Pose a Risk?
While it does not pose a gigantic threat, regular paper can be considered to pose a certain degree of risk to ESD-protected areas. Typically, the normal kind of paper that all of us tend to use is a low charging insulator. It eagerly absorbs moisture. It can potentially interfere with the grounding if any ESD-sensitive items and objects are placed on the paper.
You will want to make sure that you keep any and all non-essential insulators away from your ESD-protected area as they can potentially compromise the integrity of your ESD-free setting.
This includes items made from plastic and non-dissipative paper products. So things like food wrappers, folders, binders, tape, cups, and the like should be kept as far away from the ESD-protected workstation as possible.
Humidity and Paper
One important thing to know is the relationship between paper and humidity. Humidity has a significant impact on static buildup on paper and paper products. The less the humidity in the environment, the more easily it takes up a charge.
Typically, however, it is low charging and dissipative in nature. So keep in mind that it will behave more like an insulator during periods of low humidity.
What if I Need to Use an Insulator for my Work?
If you must use an insulating item for the sake of your work, try to ensure that it is kept at a safe distance from your ESD-sensitive equipment or machinery.
As a general principle, keep these insulators at least 30 cm or 12 inches away from your ESD area.
If possible, try to look for ESD-safe alternatives instead of running the risk. You will find a lot of ESD protective items online. Additionally, make it a practice to use anti-static solutions and coatings on your items regularly to get that extra layer of protection.
What is ESD Paper?
If you need to have paper in your ESD-free area, it is possible for you to purchase ESD paper that is designed to dissipate static and keep your area static-free. A simple internet search will show you a lot of options to order ESD paper that will not interfere with your ESD zone.
On the other hand, you can also use other products to shield your equipment from static discharge from paper or paper products. For example, you will find ESD sheet protectors or document protectors which can be used to safely stow away paper.
So if you are aware that you operate in a largely low humidity setting, then I would definitely recommend looking into investing in such products to be on the safe side.