We’re installing conductive vinyl tile, using copper strips to ground the tile. Is this the right static control prescription for a 9-1-1 call center application?
No. Conductive vinyl is not a low-charge-generating material. In other words, conductive vinyl will generate significant charges on people as they walk through the space while wearing standard footwear. When a person walks on a floor, the friction between the flooring material and soles of their shoes generates static. These static charges (called walking body voltage) build on the human body as the person continues to walk.
Like all electricity, static seeks its easiest path to ground. As soon as the charged person touches something—another person, a headset, an electronic component—the static on his or her body will jump, or discharge, to that person or object. This sudden spike in current can destroy headsets, corrupt data transmissions, or destroy the microcircuits inside electronic equipment.
Grounding the floor gives static charges a place to go, a path to ground, but does not stop charges from building on the human body. Unless protocols are diligently enforced, requiring every person who enters the space to wear special ESD-protective footwear, a conductive vinyl floor will not inhibit static generation or prevent random discharges from damaging equipment.
It is highly unlikely that people in mission-critical spaces, such as an emergency police dispatch center, would be required to wear ESD footwear. With people in street shoes, the best conductive vinyl floor will not prevent static—it will actually contribute to static generation.
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