An Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA) needs to be identified as such according to the processes in place. Therefore, using the right awareness materials is imperative for the safety of static sensitive components. Products with graphical elements (i.e. tape, signs and labels) are recommended to be used within the EPA, on packaging, and at all entrance points to help improve ESD awareness and mark the EPA boundaries. In this article, we will discuss the three types of ESD awareness products for correctly identifying and marking the EPA boundaries.
The first product we will be discussing is ESD signs; a core product for EPA identification. Under the relevant guidelines for ESD / EPA Boundaries (61340-5-1), personnel must be able to see ESD awareness signs complying with 61340-5-1 before entering or exiting the Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA). Where possible, ESD compliant signs should also be visible to all personnel within the EPA; particularly where there are multi-workstations. It can also be beneficial to have an ESD sign above each user bench to maintain awareness at all times.
In areas where static sensitive components are handled, ESD signs must be used to keep everyone mindful of proper handling in the EPA. Depending on the EPA processes and facilities, special signs may be required for safety reasons (i.e. in high voltage areas).
Generally, there is a wide variety of ESD workstation signage available in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours; from awareness signs to a caution sign. For some businesses, a custom-made ESD sign if often required for specific applications. Bondline’s ESD signs are a good choice for bespoke requirements – see their range of ESD signs on their website.
Here are several typical characteristics of an ESD sign:
It is extremely important to have clear marked boundaries to the EPA so that it is visible where special handling measures apply and static sensitive components may be safely handled. Using ESD floor marking tape is a good way of marking the EPA boundaries; defining walkways, safe areas and zones where static sensitive components and devices are being manufactured or assembled. Characteristically bold and vibrant in its visuals, ESD floor marking tape can be clearly seen by personnel when entering or exiting the EPA; acting as a constant reminder.
Used in conjunction with ESD awareness signs, ESD floor making tape enhances the overall safety of the area, increasing personnel ESD awareness and defining an EPA area to the 61340-5-1 Standard. While its primary application is to mark off floors designating ESD Protected Areas, ESD floor tape can also be used as area signs.
While some tapes may vary, most types of ESD floor marking tape can adhere to synthetic flooring such as PVC floor tiles and concrete flooring where it can be expected to withstand heavy traffic, particle contaminations and remain intact for several months.
While they do not directly mark the EPA boundaries, ESD labels are used to make people aware that equipment could be damaged or destroyed by electrostatic discharge. ESD labels should be used if your employees handle, store or transport ESD packaging (i.e. static shielding bags, pink anti-static bags) on a regular basis.
Whether the ESD packaging is to be used within your business or shipped out to a customer, the use of the ESD label helps others to identify the static sensitive contents inside.
Marking the EPA boundaries is an important aspect of an ESD Control Plan that should not go ignored. It can help to improve a business’s operations and awareness, reducing the likelihood of component damage and therefore saving costs. Defining the boundaries is quick, easy and cost-effective. With the help of ESD signs, tape, labels and a range of esd control products, you can be sure to create a static safe environment.
If you would like help setting up your EPA, contact Bondline Electronics for free technical advice today. Alternatively, we can help you identify which products you need with an ESD audit.
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