The role of ESD lab coats in ESD Protected Areas (EPA)

There is a common misconception that if a person is wearing a wrist strap, an ESD lab coat (also known as a smock) is not necessary. Many operators believe that any charge on the person or their clothes would find its way to ground via a wrist strap or via ESD footwear.

Purpose of ESD lab coats

Despite ESD Standards not requiring ESD lab coats or jackets, they are a very practical solution for minimising ESD events from a person’s clothing. In fact, the use of lab coats can represent the single most important step to demonstrate commitment to an ESD control programme. Clothing, particularly when made from synthetic fibres, are significant charge generators. For ESD control, the fabric is an insulator so the result can be very hostile: an isolated charged insulator which cannot be grounded. This violates the 12 inch/2000 volts rule.

ESD lab coat properties

Most lab coats are constructed of a dissipative material which incorporates texturised polyester and carbon nylon fibres. The conductive nylon fibres are woven in a chain-link design throughout the material providing continuous and consistent charge dissipation. In effect, they act as a static shielding bag for the body, preventing ESD charges from getting in and ESD charges from getting out.

ESD lab coats are an ESD protective product and should possess the following ESD control characteristics:

  • Antistatic: low-charging so they decrease the generation of electrostatic charges;
  • Dissipative: they will remove charges to ground when grounded;
  • Shielding: creating a “Faraday Cage” effect so they will restrict charges generated on the user’s clothing to the inside of the ESD lab coat.
  • Groundable: the user can easily and reliably connect them to ground
ESD Lab Coat - In Use - Packing Circuit Board - Antistat

Cleaning of ESD lab coats

ESD lab coats can be washed in cool or warm water, then tumble dried with low heat or hung to dry. Do not bleach your ESD lab coats and ensure you only use non-ionic detergents only when laundering.
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