Video: Static-Control Flooring and Walking Body Voltage

August 4, 2017

To be sure your ESD floor protects sensitive electronics, you must perform two tests: resistance and walking body voltage. In this video, we explain the term “walking body voltage,” and tell you why conductivity, or a floor’s ability to ground static charges, is only one component of a fully functioning ESD floor. You’ll learn why low-charge generation is an equally important consideration, and how to perform the industry-approved walking body voltage test.

Visit our Learning Center to find out more about walking body voltage.

For help or advice about choosing an ESD floor, call us on 617-923-2000, email [email protected]rx.com, or visit our Guide to ESD Flooring Selection.

In this video, we’re going to show you a simple test you can do to make sure your flooring is safe.

In the previous video, we showed you how to conduct a Resistance test. If you haven’t watched that yet, we recommend you do that now, and then return to this video.

The resistance test measures how fast static will discharge to ground. But there is no correlation
between resistance and the amount of static generated when people walk across the floor. Your floor could pass a resistance test with flying colors– and still generate enough static to wreak havoc.

Suppose a 9-1-1 dispatch operator returning from a break walks to her desk, accumulating 2000 volts
of static electricity. The voltage is too low to give her a shock; in fact, she never feels the static at all. With the tip of her finger, she could wipe out all the data on her computer.

The static that’s generated when we walk is called walking body voltage. To measure that voltage, we use a charge monitor. Something like the instrument in my hand.

Here’s a great example of what we’re talking about. In this clip, a person is stepping
across a conductive vinyl floor while wearing special static-control heel straps. This is what a heel strap looks like for those of you who’ve never seen one. Notice they are generating less than 25 volts of static. That’s very good.

Now look what happens when the same person walks on the same floor wearing a pair of ordinary sneakers. 3,000 volts. That’s enough to destroy, damage, or corrupt equipment. This is why you need to do two tests: a Resistance test and a Walking Body Voltage test. And this is why we always tell our clients that they should never specify a floor just because a supplier tells them how conductive that floor is.

In order to serve your needs, the floor must also be low static generating. The static generated by walking has partly to do with the floor, and partly to do with the type of shoes the person is wearing. Someone in shoes with plastic soles–an insulator–will accumulate more static than a
person wearing leather-soled shoes.

ESD footwear varies too. That’s why it’s important to test the floor with the subject wearing a variety of footwear. In a mission-critical environment, the floor should generate less than 500 volts of static. In areas where sensitive electronics are handled, the floor must generate less than
100 volts of static electricity and preferably even lower than 25 volts.

So remember, you must conduct this test using a variety of footwear in order to find the most
appropriate ESD flooring.

For more information about Walking Body Voltage tests, or to view ESD flooring options, visit Staticworx, your trusted ESD flooring partner.

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StaticWorx high-performance static-control floors protect electronic components, explosives, and high-speed computers from damage caused by static electricity. ESD flooring is part of a system. Choices should always be based on objective, researched evidence. When you partner with us, we look at all possible items that may need to integrate with the floor, and, focusing on your goals and objectives, help you find the right floor for your application.