UK-based Newson Gale has recently introduced a new Anti-Static Footwear Test Station which ensures compliance with International Safety Standards by testing operators’ footwear before they proceed into hazardous (potentially explosive) working areas.
Static electricity is generated when a person moves around. One important aspect of controlling static electricity is to ensure that footwear used is of a static-dissipative (anti-static) type. If a person is wearing footwear with insulated soles, or is walking on a non-conductive floor, then a static charge can build up on their body leading to a spark discharge when they move close to an earthed object, or something which is at a lower electrical potential than themselves. Such a discharge can lead to the ignition of solvent vapours, gases or dust clouds in a potentially explosive atmosphere.
Many companies prescribe the use of static-dissipative footwear in potentially explosive atmospheres, designed to the EN345 (or RO44-001 & BS5958) standard. However, they have no means of checking that the correct footwear is in use or is still working within specification. Likewise, they cannot tell if visitors are wearing suitable footwear. EN345 clearly states that the ‘user is recommended to establish an in-house test for electrical resistance and use it (to test the footwear) at regular and frequent intervals’.
In the electronics industry, test units are widely used to ensure that footwear meets the particular standards used in that sector, in order to prevent damage to electrical components, which are sensitive to static discharge. In an environment where an uncontrolled static discharge could lead to fires, explosions, injury to personnel and even the destruction of the whole plant, it is even more important to test the footwear in use.
In order to combat this problem, the Sole-Mate Anti-Static Footwear Test Station allows regular or periodic testing of all footwear used on site to ensure it meets either the EN345 or RO44-001 & BS5958 standards.