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Static Dissipative ESD Carpet for 911 Emergency Call Centers - The Facts

Anytime a spec writer drafts a specification for conductive or static dissipative flooring, they are accepting responsibility for performing application specific due diligence around electrical properties, grounding and even safety...

...With that responsibility comes the need to identify, cite and meet/exceed the grounding standards utilized by their client's industry.

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Originally published in 9-1-1
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The Facts Speak for Themselves

As noted earlier, risks are avoidable, and objective, third-party international standards are readily accessible. Look for standards that are specifically designed for communications and telecom environments, since ESD standards like ANSI/ESD S20.20 used in electronics manufacturing are not relevant to communications operations. For a specifier to satisfy the expected standard of care, it is important to know what the latest standards are—and to comply with them.

Motorola R56

The Motorola guidelines have become the recognized standard in the industry and serve as the most complete and rigorous specification for the protection of communication system equipment installed at public safety and commercial wireless communication sites. 

Link to Motorla R56 PDF file.

Excerpt from Appendix C 3.3 - 68P81089E50-B: “Carpeting or floor tiles within an equipment room or dispatch center, including raised flooring, should have a resistance to ground measurement of between 1,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 ohms.”

We mentioned before that standards are subject to change based on the latest research.  To keep abreast of these developments, we recently contacted the standards committee at Motorola.  As it turns out, Motorola will soon release a revision of R56 that will add a recommendation on the need to conduct flooring audits to ensure proper compliance.

ATIS 0600321-2010 (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions)

ATIS publishes standards for the information, entertainment, and communications industries.

Link to ATIS-0600321-2010 Electrical Protection for Network Operator-Type Equipment Positions.

Excerpt from Page, Section 4.2 Flooring: "Any carpeting or floor tiles should have a resistance to ground between 106 and 1010 ohms when measured using the method of ESD-S7.1.”

The above recommendations are not unique to the telecom industry. For example, FAA grounding standard STD 019e recommends the same ohms range for flooring in flight control equipment areas, and most computer manufacturers recommend static-control flooring measuring between 1 million ohms and less than one billion (1.0 X 10 9.) FAA’s 019e document supersedes a previous document (019d) where conductive flooring was considered acceptable.

In addition to these accepted industry standards, it is useful to consult with other third-party sources such as ESD industry analyst Steve Fowler, president of Fowler Associates and publisher of ESD Journal (link). According to Fowler, electrical codes require Ground Fault Interrupter outlets when the floor’s conductivity might allow over 5 milliamps. If the floor gains conductivity and is already border-line, there is a problem.

What if someone walks into the work area with wet shoes and the resitance between that person and ground is lower than intended? If the floor is compliant, it should be forgiving: if it is border-line, you may have a problem.

Due Diligence

In the emergency response industry, with so much at stake, it is critical to communicate clearly and help people make the right decisions. The stakes are also high in the static-control industry, where the right information will lead to intelligent choices, including flooring that will not contribute an unnecessary risk to personnel and protect your organization from liability exposure.

To exercise due diligence, you will need to invest a little time—for example, you may need to compare the claims of product marketers with the recommendations of R56 and ATIS. But without this investment, consider the costs of negligence, including replacing a non-complying floor or even a law suit.

We also recommend that you review the AIA’s latest document regarding Standard of Care. In short, the performance of design professionals such as architects and engineers is measured in two ways: the contract between the owner and the professional, and the over-riding professional Standard of Care. When that level of care is challenged, the burden of proof often falls more heavily on the professional (or the defendant).

In any event, it is sometimes tempting to take short cuts when websites and product brochures seem to be saying the right things. In our online world, we often do research and buy goods and services without ever meeting or talking to the supplier. But while the Internet may be a great resource, it also may lead to potholes and pratfalls. So before clicking on the “easy” button, consider well-grounded solutions…and avoid future shock.

For more information,

Click here to watch the video, What Is ESD Flooring?

David Long is President and CEO of Staticworx, North America’s largest manufacturer of electrostatic discharge (ESD) flooring products that protect work sites with customized, static-free solutions. Based in Waterbury Center, VT, Staticworx has warehouses on both coasts and is factory-direct. Comprehensive flooring options include rubber, carpet, vinyl tile, epoxy, and adhesives. All products meet international standards, are environmentally friendly, and come with lifetime warranties. Start-to-finish services include ongoing access to technical support. Contact via email or call 617-923-2000.
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  • NIOSH [1998]. Worker Deaths by Electrocution; A Summary of NIOSH Surveillance and Investigative Findings. Ohio: US Heath and Human Services.?
  • Greenwald EK [1991]. Electrical Hazards and Accidents - Their Cause and Prevention. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Continue reading this article:
Part 1: Static Dissipative ESD Carpet
Part 2: The Facts Speak for Themselves