Many workplaces have explosive environments; these are called ATEX zones. These areas are particularly dangerous because any spark caused by an object giving off electrostatic discharges can cause a catastrophic explosion. This electrostatic risk should therefore be taken seriously and appropriate protective equipment should be used to protect against it.
Anti-static : definition
Anti-static is the adjective used to describe a product or material that cannot be charged with static electricity or that reduces it drastically, by dispersing it rapidly. In fact, whenever we move, a static charge is generated, often by the friction of our clothes with a surface or simply with our own body (for example, we all experienced our hair standing up when putting on a polar sweater). The objective is to reduce the accumulation of these charges in order to avoid a potential discharge with sparks that could cause a deadly explosion in an ATEX zone.
Protecting yourself against electrostatic risks
In order to be properly protected against the risk of explosions due to electrostatic discharges, complete personal protective equipment is required. Anti-static work clothes should be chosen, in accordance with the EN 1149-5 standard. Often made of metal or carbon fibers, these garments allow the charges to disperse quickly. In addition, safety shoes all have anti-static features from category S1 upwards. Furthermore, it is vital to protect the hands, and sometimes even the forearms, with protective anti-static gloves that meet specific European standards. With this equipment, the handler can work in complete safety, while enjoying optimum comfort and dexterity, thanks to the wide range of personal protective equipment available today.
What is the European standard 16350?
The European standard 16350 sets out the various tests and characteristics expected for protective gloves with electrostatic features:
- The vertical resistance of the gloves must be less than 100 mega ohms.
- Their contact resistance must meet the EN 1149-2 standard.
- To make the tests as realistic as possible, we reproduce an atmosphere of about 23 degrees Celsius and with a humidity level of around 25%.
- A minimum of five samples must be tested and meet the contact resistance requirements.
For protective gloves that comply with the standard, a recent development has transformed the EN420 standard into the EN ISO 21420 standard, which reinforces the importance of the operator’s well-being by ensuring that the materials used in the glove’s composition are completely safe. A new pictogram has therefore been added to work gloves.
The test method to comply with the EN 16350 standard
For a protective glove to carry the demanding EN 16350 standard, it has to be subjected to the EN 1149-2 test method. This test measures its vertical resistance in ohms. This measurement is made through the material, between two electrodes placed on opposite surfaces, under a defined voltage. Ideally, these tests should be carried out in the conditions of an ATEX zone. The lower the humidity and the drier the climate, the higher the vertical resistance of the test. The temperatures of the environments in which the workstations are located are numerous and it is not always easy to comply with this standard on safety gloves.
When should anti-static gloves be used?
Various types of protective gloves exist; anti-static gloves are suitable for several fields of use, particularly in the electronics industry where the control of electrostatic discharges is essential. Anti-static gloves are particularly used in clean rooms; these specific work areas have an extreme level of cleanliness that is ensured by automatic equipment that prevents all contaminants and dust from entering this environment. Controlling the electrostatic charge in these areas is vital to avoid any inconvenience caused by magnetic interference.
However, wearing gloves against electrostatic risks is not enough, you must “have your feet on the ground”. This is an expression to be taken literally when working in an ATEX environment. Indeed, work gloves that dissipate electrostatic charges are only effective if the wearer is grounded with a resistance of less than 108Ω. This is an essential condition for a minimum level of protection.
Our LEBON anti-static gloves
To meet the needs of our customers, we offer a wide range of products from the GTNC (simple knitted polyamide/carbon glove), through a version with PU-coated fingertips for better grip (GTNC/DE) or PU-coated palm (GTNC/PE), to gloves with additional cut protection in level B (POWERFIT®SD) and level D (MASTERBLACK/SD).