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Minimising ESD

There are a variety of methods to reduce the risk of ESD. Many manufacturers of computers and components go to great lengths to reduce the risk. All staff are given regular training and are supervised to ensure that they take all the precautions initiated by the company.

There are several devices which combat ESD by ensuring that there is no build-up of charge on a person by connecting them to ground. Probably the most common is an antistatic strap worn on the wrist. This is a conductive strap with a wire attached. The wire can be connected to the case of the computer system or to a special plug inserted into an ordinary electrical socket or to an antistatic work mat. You should check that the antistatic strap contains a resistive element (for example 1MΩ) to protect the user if a live component is accidentally touched.

Alternatively you could use an antistatic heel strap, which performs the same function. Antistatic heel straps are commonly used in conjunction with antistatic floor mats or floor covering. The surface work area itself may also be an antistatic mat.

An important safety issue when using an antistatic strap is not to work on any equipment where there is a possibility of touching a live or high voltage component. The strap will form an excellent path for the electricity to flow to ground through your body, and that would be very dangerous. Items such as monitors and power supplies contain capacitors, which can store a charge even when not connected and 'live'. You should not work on these devices unless you have been suitably trained and are not wearing an antistatic strap.

Next: SAQ on Electrical Issues