An ESD safe workspace is only as good as its weakest link. Any vulnerability within an ESD sensitive environment could create a breach in an electrically conductive chain. Here are answers to frequent questions about creating effective and safe ESD workstations.
Do You Need a Table Top ESD Mat if Your Workstation Has ESD Laminate?
ESD work surfaces provide a permanent solution to portable ESD mats. Use of an ESD mat on an ESD work surface is not required, but ESD working surfaces should always be grounded to a common ground point, and never daisy chained.
A number of factors lead to the degradation of ESD mats, including dragging heavy objects over the surface, abrasion or cuts, chemical cleaners, or direct heat caused by soldering or rework. Additionally, the most common precursor to ESD events is not faulty equipment, but instead operator error such as setting sensitive devices on non-ESD surfaces or failure to follow proper grounding procedure. ESD benches provide a permanent stand in for ESD work surfaces and reduce the likeliness of user-driven ESD events, such as hastily setting down an ESD device on a non-ESD workstation. Regardless, the soft properties of rubber ESD table mats provide a soft surface for electronic components that may be damaged by subtle or repeated impact on a work surface.
When Do You Need an ESD Wrist Strap?
Typically, ESD wrist straps are the primary means of grounding personnel. When properly worn and connected to ground, a wrist strap keeps the person wearing it near ground potential. Because the person and other grounded objects in the work area are at or near the same potential, there can be no hazardous discharge between them. In addition, static charges are removed from the person to ground and do not accumulate. When personnel are seated on a chair which is not EPA appropriate, they are to be grounded using a wrist strap. –ESDA.org