Anti-static flooring: useful advice from Ecotile
The term anti-static is often misunderstood and misused, 9 times out of 10 when we are asked for anti-static flooring what the customer actually wants is Electro-Static Dissipative or Conductive Flooring, commonly referred to as ESD flooring.
As a general rule you will need an ESD floor if you are manufacturing, repairing, servicing, handling or using equipment that is susceptible to damage from electro-static discharge, typical sectors would include the manufacture of components for the electronics industry, aviation, automotive, IT, medical, oil and gas, telecoms and IT for example.
If static or electro-static discharge is more of an inconvenience than a fundamental risk to your processes, for example in the printing industry, warehousing and packaging, food production etc. there are far simpler and more cost effective ways to manage the issue of static discharge.
The term anti-static refers to a very specific electrical resistance range of between 10 to the 9 and 10 to the 11 and only means that the floor itself will not generate static. It does not mean that the floor will eliminate static build up or dissipate static that may have already been built up in the body.
The only benefit of an anti-static floor is that it will not increase the risk of building up static but it will definitely not reduce the level of static charge of dissipate static from the body, this can only be achieved with a conductive (resistance range of between 10 to the 4 x 10 to the 6) or a dissipative (10 to the 7 to 10 to the 9) floor covering.
If you DO NOT require a conductive or dissipative floor and only want to reduce the risk of static build up there are far more cost effective methods of achieving this and the following are a few simple and cost effective solutions.
Firstly and most importantly:
Cleaning & Maintenance: There are a range of off the shelf anti-static cleaning products available, they work in exactly the same way as a standard floor cleaning chemical but include an anti-static additive that attracts moisture from the atmosphere that eliminates static build up. To further emphasise the importance of correct cleaning it is worth adding that many standard cleaning chemicals can actually increase the risk / propensity to static build up. It is highly recommended that you use a neutral PH cleaning chemical so that you do not add either a positively charged layer over the top of your floor surface.
Furthermore static will build up quicker on a dirty floor, the friction caused by the rubbing of the sole of a shoe and the dust and dirt on the floor will create static. A good and regular cleaning regime using the correct cleaning chemicals will ensure a static free floor.
The next simple step is:
Use the right type of shoes: Certain synthetic / man made shoe soles create a lot of static electricity. Experiment with different shoes. The reason you build up static electricity usually comes from walking on an insulative surface with certain types of insulative shoes, especially when the weather / room humidity is very dry. We would strongly recommend that you avoid trainers, rubber and leather soles are good and for the best solution use either anti-static or even better ESD footwear. Providing the correct footwear is a far more cost effective solution that installing a full ESD flooring if you don’t need one!!!!
Other useful tips include:
Increase humidity: Static electricity is more active when the air and materials are dry. The humidity is normally lower in the winter, and heating the house further reduces the humidity. Solution: Use a humidifier to raise the
Clothes on skin: Some clothing materials, such as polyester materials, cause more static electricity than others when they rub against your skin. If you have a problem with static electric shocks, you might try wear 100% cotton or wool clothing. Since women often wear undergarments made of nylon or other synthetic material, they should try cotton items to see if it gives them relief from the shocks.
Moisturize skin: Some people have very dry skin that may cause the build-up of static charges, especially in the winter. One thing to try is to use moisturizers or lotions on your skin.
Clothes on other materials: When you slide out of a car or off furniture you can create static electricity if the combination of materials is right. Try putting a cover on the seat and changing the materials or your clothes. You could try spraying things with an anti-static spray.
Body chemistry: Individual body chemistry has a significant impact on how electric current affects an individual. Some people are highly sensitive to current, experiencing involuntary muscle contraction with shocks from static electricity. Others can draw large sparks from discharging static electricity and hardly feel it, much less experience a muscle spasm. Also, some people see to have a tendency to build up static electric charges in their bodies. The problem may be due to their body chemistry, such that their blood has an excess of ions. One theory is that too much salt in your system causes that problem. Another theory is that your system is too acidic.
In summary any floor can be made and kept anti-static if the correct procedures and cleaning regime is followed. For further information please contact EcoTile Flooring Ltd at [email protected] or call (+44) 01582 788232.
Lucinda O’Reilly, Exports & Marketing Director is an integral part of the team that has grown Ecotile Flooring in to the successful manufacturing business it is today. Over the last 20 years she has successfully employed her skills in sales and marketing to ensure Ecotile Flooring is recognised as the market leading manufacturer of PVC interlocking floor tiles. Lucinda’s love of travel means the Ecotile brand is dominant all over Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and India.
To ensure compliance with export regulations Lucinda has gained accreditations from the Chamber of Commerce in Incoterms & Export Licence Controls and Export Procedures & Documentation and has completed the Institute of Export course on Incoterms 2020. She is a member of the Institute of Export, was a finalist in the Natwest Open to Export competition in 2018 and was instrumental in Ecotile Flooring winning a Queen’s Enterprise for International Trade in 2017. Lucinda has recently been interviewed by BBC News and Channel 4 News for her insights on Brexit and is an Export Champion for the Department for International Trade.