What is an ESD Protected Area (EPA)?

ESD Protected Area (EPA)


An ESD protected area (EPA) is an area designated for controlling ESD in order to prevent potential problems with sensitive electronic devices caused by ESD damage. An EPA is highly recommended for production areas with electrical parts that are susceptible to static energy, and can easily be created with low cost and time needed.

For an area to be protected from ESD, it has to comply with these 3 principles:

Ground all conductors, including workers
Connecting all electrically conductive and static dissipative objects in the workstation to a common ground point allows static electricity build-up to equalize with ground potential, minimizing the risk of ESD damage. These include work surfaces, objects, people, and ESD-sensitive devices.
Remove insulators
Because insulators do not easily transfer electrons, static charges cannot be removed by grounding. Thus, any non-essential insulators in the workstations must be replaced with ESD-safe alternatives. These include coffee cups, food wrappers, and other plastic or paper-based items. In circumstances where they are unable to be removed, neutralization is required.
Shielding
Packaging with ESD shielding properties is required for safe transportation and storage of ESD-sensitive devices outside an EPA. It is specifically designed to prevent the build up of static electricity and to protect device from ESD.

Now that we have a better understanding of the foundations, the next step is to set up an EPA. What are the ESD control items you need to transform your workstation into an EPA? Find out more here!