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Static Shocks

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aka pixi | 17:32 Sat 25th Mar 2006 | Science
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Are static shocks harmful?


I work on a plastic moulding machine and when the product comes off I catch and stack it. I get shocks everytime I touch the product, this means that if 3 units are coming off the machine every 3 seconds I am getting shocked every single second and I work for 4 hours a shift. I dont know how many shocks that is but its a blooming lot . Most of the shocks are just little fizzy ones but every so often it will be a belter.

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Eventually your finger ends could go permanently numb. Your employer should place static elimination equipment on the machine (often just a length of cable running from the machine to earth) to limit the effects. It is a health and safety issue so see your union rep if you have one, if not bring it up with your companys HR dept.
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Thanks for that gammaray. The machines are earthed though and I still get shocks. I dont get half as many if I stand up the entire time and I also get them in my tummy if I stand too near the table :(


Its pretty worrying that my fingertips could end up permanently numb though, that would mean I would have difficulty typing and not be able to use the internet properly waillllllllllllllllllllllllllll

What you need to wear are conductive gloves with a connection to earth which will distribute the charge over a large area of your skin and stop it feeling like a shock and also drain it to ground to eliminate it. Your employer should supply you with something suitable.
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hi qapmoc, thanks for your advice. Im gonna mention how bad it is to the boss on monday, we all get the shocks but just laugh them off, if we tell him how bad it is maybe he will sort something out.

aka pixi


I'm a union H & S rep and agree with the advice given. If you can, always try to put H & S issues to your bosses in writing (e.g. e-mail) as well as speaking to them, and keep a copy. They are duty bound under the law to consider your complaint/request and the written evidence often acts as an extra incentive to them to rectify the situation.

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Sorry to disagree Eddie51, but I would think in your case you were trying to stop the build up of a static charge on your body, hence the conductive footware.


What aka pixi is trying to do is stop the static charge which already exists on another object from transfering to her body, what you need to do is insulate your body from the ground with insulated footwear so that the charge cannot earth itself through your body and make sure that the static discharge passes into something on your hands (gloves) which do have a excellent connection to ground.

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hi shammydodger, good idea, I will email as well as seeing him, thanks :)


hi eddie thanks for your suggestion. I think we can get boots like that from work.


qapmoc, yes thats exactly what i am trying to stop :)


Static can kill. On Britain's roads very many years ago there used to be steam-driven lorries. The drive from the engine to the rear axle was by chain, (looked like a huge bicycle chain). These truck built up a very big static charge, and several drivers were killed when they stepped down from the cab. This resulted in a regulation whereby the trucks had to be fitted with a chain, fixed to the chassis, that dragged along the ground and allowed this static to continually discharge.


The last report I know of regarding the above was when the driver of such a truck didn't realise that the discharge chain had broken off. The weather was very dry, and he apparently had no problem until he stepped onto the metal foot-scraper mat at the entrance to a roadside cafe. The resulting shock killed him. This was near Dundee, back in the 1950s.


Today, in marine helicopter rescue, an earthing wire is lowered with the rescuer. This wire discharges the considerable static generated in the helicopter through being the first thing to touch the sea or the metalwork of the vessel in distress. In offshore survival training, it's drummed home that you never ever reach up to grab this wire...you could be killed.


While a healthy person can withstand a fair amount of static shock, one must remember that anyone with any sort of heart problem might end up in serious trouble.


This definitely is a H&S issue. Remember that under H&S law, if you injure yourself through a risk that you know about, and have ignored, you have committed a criminal offence!


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wow heathfield that is really scary. Thanks for the H + S advice too. I mentioned the worst of the machines today to the manager, so hopefully it wont be long before its sorted. I was also told by one of the girls today to make sure I keep my feet flat on the floor. Im not very tall so when I am sat down only the tips of my toes are on the floor. As i get less shocks when I'm stood up than when Im sat down maybe this could be something to do with it too.

the body is made up of water and chemicals that directly relate to the precise manufacture and use of electricity. if you interupt, increase are change the power of the type of delivery it theoreticaly could chane the delivery point of elecricity in your heart from the a-v node to another point of electrical delivery which is technically now called a disrythmia or arythmia and could kill you. static electricity in great strenth can cause enough arc to ignite aviation fuel. thus the reason they use grounding wires when fueling aircraft. it's the volts that get you not the watts.

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