Electrostatic damage is a constant concern for individuals who work in production and computer environments. Manufacturing, warehousing, and many other industries need to take steps to alleviate the risk of ESD events occurring. An effective way to ensure ESD safety is to employ the use of ESD and antistatic equipment and supplies. ESD wrist straps are one of the best pieces of equipment your workforce can be outfitted with.
An anti static wrist strap, or ESD wrist strap, is an important piece of safety gear you need in any anti static or ESD preventative program (EPA).
Many people believe ESD wrist straps are non essential pieces of equipment and therefore think that they do not need to use them when carrying out work. However this is an issue because there is no reliable protection in place to protect either the user or the static sensitive item; resulting into possible ESD damage. In reality, anti static wristbands are crucial to use when working with static sensitive items and are very cost-effective in comparison to investing lots of money to replace damaged items due to ESD damage.
This blog post will cover the following:
Before we delve straight into what an anti static wristband is and how it works, we should first learn about what electrostatic discharge (ESD) actually is and how it can be a problem.
“Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is an uncontrolled surge of ‘static’ between objects with different voltage potentials.”
Static electricity has been an industrial problem for centuries. As early as the 1400’s, European forts were using static control procedures and devices to prevent electrostatic discharge igniting gun powders and other explosives.
Within today’s electronics industry, it is widely accepted that Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) events are a significant cause of device failure and that implementing static control measures is not only desirable but essential.
Damage to this industry has been estimated at billions of dollars annually. However, while the costs of static control measures can be high, the return on investment certainly does justify the implementation of such measures.
ESD problems have magnified during the past 3 decades because of 2 reasons:
1) The increased use of insulating man-made fibres and plastics for clothing, furnishing, flooring etc.
2) The ever-increasing sensitivity of integrated circuits due to smaller and smaller conductors and components within the circuitry.
Electrostatic damage to electronic devices can occur at any point from manufacture to field service. Damage results from handing the devices in uncontrolled surroundings or when poor ESD control practices are used. Generally damage is classified as either a catastrophic failure or a latent defect.
Often static damage is not noticed and it can take a while – even months – until the problem is actually identified. Static damage can cause a loss of performance, immediate damage or a future failure which can be frustrating and dangerous. This is why it is important that you prevent static charges in the beginning so that no damage can be caused and ultimately saving precious time, money and resources.
Wrist straps are the first line of defence against ESD, the most common personnel grounding device used, and are required to be used if the operator is sitting. Wrist straps help to disperse static electricity generated from a person safely to ground. See Bondline’s range of wrist straps here.
Wrist straps are generally a bright colour in order to allow the straps to be easily seen by others. They are designed to be worn in close contact to the skin to establish a grounding path. They discharge the static being generated on the body to ground instantly. Wrist-bands must be worn while sitting, even when E.S.D footwear is being used. Each wrist-strap has a comforting material which have silver conductive woven fibres for maximum conductivity and minimum skin irritation.
Straps should be clean, snug and comfortable. If your strap is loose and/or dirty, you run the risk of having an intermittent contact to ground. The outer surface of the wrist-strap should be insulative for operator safety.
ESD wrist straps come in a variety of materials, but the general concept for each is the same; to provide a path for electrostatic ground.
For an ESD control wrist strap to work, it is either connected to earth bonding points fitted into workstations, typically via 10 mm press studs, or come with a removable coiled cord and crocodile clip for mobile applications.
The strap is fastened around your wrist using an adjustable band. The wristband should be worn snug to the skin with its coil cord connected to a common point ground which is connected to ground, preferably equipment ground. Typically, the alligator clip is attached to the computer or sensitive electronic device being worked on.
Once an ESD wrist strap has been secured to the wrist and connected to the earth bonding point or sensitive piece of equipment, you are safe to work without fear of ESD occurring. This allows you and your workforce to go about your daily tasks freely and drastically reduces the chances of static electricity building up.
The goal of using ESD wrist straps is to safely provide a way for static electricity to dissipate without causing electrostatic damage. The less ESD events that occur the better. An ESD protected work environment will enhance safety which helps to increase efficiency and production. While ESD wrist straps are highly effective pieces of equipment, it’s always best to support safety initiatives with the addition of ESD mats and other essential supplies. Short-term investments in high-quality ESD gear will pay off in the long-term.
Operators should use an anti static wristband to ensure any static discharge has a way to go from themselves to the ground safely. Without wearing a wristband whilst working on a static sensitive device/component you could effectively transfer static discharge onto the item and cause significant damage. This can be very costly to replace and time-consuming.
By wearing a wrist strap, you are not only taking an important step to prevent ESD from inflicting damage but you are also setting an example to your peers and managers.
The colour of the wristband doesn’t indicate any level of protection. A brightly colored wrist strap allows for a quick visual that the person is wearing their ESD/anti static equipment. They also stand out on a workbench or table making it easier to find and put on. Wristbands are available in a variety of colours to suit your preference. Colour options allow you to select a colour that’s more preferable and suitable for your workspace or company’s branding colours. Bondline offer bespoke customisation for their ESD wrist straps, click here to view our range.
Colours can include:
Work environments that deal with the pressures of ESD risk on a daily basis should be equipped with either fabric adjustable, metal adjustable, or hypoallergenic ESD wrist straps. Disposable wrist straps are best for short-term projects and field work that necessitate the need to handle sensitive electronic equipment.
This wrist strap is a comfortable, fully adjustable ‘fabric’ antistatic wrist strap. This wrist strap is woven and has a curved buckle for added comfort. Unlike many other wrist straps this design has double thickness material to ensure outer layer insulation for complete operator safety. Bespoke colours available on request.
This crocheted, lightweight wrist strap design is for maximum skin contact and comfort. The fabric wrist-strap is fully adjustable and is supplied with a 10mm stud as standard. Standard colour is dark blue.
Anti Allergy version is designed for people who suffer from allergic reactions to standard anti-static wrist straps. The fabric design is hypoallergenic, with a plastic backing to avoid metal contact with the skin.
Low-cost, single-use, disposable ESD wrist straps are designed for users who temporarily need an ESD wrist strap without the requirement of it being durable or reusable.
Lightweight, fully adjustable, crocheted Wrist Strap with 10mm stud and 1.8 meter coil cord. Cord sold separately. Our economy wrist-straps and cords are essential grounding items for use in an EPA; protecting both you and the environment from any excessive static discharge.
This wrist strap is a high-quality, adjustable stainless steel wrist strap designed to be worn in an ESD working area. Available in blue or black. Supplied with 10mm stud for grounding, cord connection.
The comfortable materials allow users to wear the wrist strap for long periods of time and are essential when handling components or assembling parts in an EPA. Size adjustment is made by adding or removing anti-static links.
Constructed using stainless steel metal band material, with plastic insulation. Outer surface is insulative while inner surface is conductive. This band is suitable for both EPA and Cleanroom use.
There is no specific rule on a lifespan of a wrist strap. Any company policies should be followed on replacements but a good general rule of thumb is to look at the overall use, possible wear and cleanliness of your individual wrist strap.
Often companies determine a guideline on replacing them annually, semi-annually or quarterly.
This small change can often feel good for those that use a wrist strap daily and especially those who share a wrist strap at a common workbench or workstation.
It can be a small investment in employee satisfaction to have an upgrade to the tools and equipment on a regular basis. Replacing a wrist strap can be a small but strong signal from management that the company cares about proper ESD procedures.
Which wrist you decide to wear your anti static wrist strap on is often a matter of personal preference.
If you have the grounding point for the wrist strap cord on your left you may find wearing the wrist strap on your left makes the most sense. That way the cord isn’t dragging across your work.
However, you may find that it is better for you to move the grounding point to your right and then wear the wrist strap on your right hand.
All in all, wristbands are an essential piece of equipment to wear when working with static sensitive items. They are easy to use, cost-effective, comfortable to wear and, most importantly, ground any static charge from the operator to the ground to prevent ESD damage.
If you would like to enquire about our wrist straps please contact us using the form below.
The Bondline Team.
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