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Do you have the “warm and frizzies” today?

- January 27, 2014 by Guest Bloggers (View all posts by Guest)

Now that it is winter time, the humidity is lower than normal. Have you noticed that as you walk across the carpet to grab a door knob, you felt a slight electric shock? How about when you opened the dryer door and saw some of the clothes still clinging together? Or, when your hair stood on end as you brushed your hair this morning. You have just experienced the effects of static electricity.

Static electricity is the result of an electrical charge that forms when two materials are linked together and then pulled apart. One surface becomes positively charged and the other negatively. In a flammable work environment, or during the unintentional release of flammable vapors or dusts, a static electricity spark, could result in a much more than frizzy hair.

The examples above are common, but here are some examples that you may not have considered:

  1.  Polypropylene rope sliding through certain types of gloves.
  2.  The flow of a flammable liquid, such as gasoline, from a tank to a container or your vehicle while refueling.
  3. The dispensing of a flammable, such as paint thinner, from one container to another.

So, how can you reduce the exposure to of static electricity? A couple of methods include “bonding” and “grounding”.  Bonding is the connection between one container and another so that the electrical charge flows between the two. Grounding is the connection between an item or container and the earth (ground).  A simple wire connection to solid earth is a suitable example.

You can continually monitor the work environment’s relative humidity, or as a “best practice,” use bonding or grounding when the concern for flammable vapors or dusts is present.

Feel free to share some other examples with us.