Are static shocks a problem in your office?
While static electricity can be a real pain, it can also damage sensitive electronics, including computers and other office machinery.
The culprit to static discharge in your office might be your office chair.
To control static electricity in your workplace, you can place static mats on floors and work surfaces. Anti-static sprays and humidifiers are also a great way to prevent static shocks.
If static electricity is a real problem in your office, you can wear anti-static wrist bands, conductive shoes, and heel straps. Anti-static office chairs and anti-static equipment (such as foams and bags) can also prevent shocks around the office.
In this article, we’ll discuss what causes static electric shocks in the office and how you can prevent them from hurting you, your co-workers, and your valuable electronics. We also have a few tips on how to prevent static shocks with your office chair.
Table of Contents
- What are static shocks?
- Are static shocks dangerous in the office?
- How do you get rid of/reduce static in an office chair?
- How to prevent static shock in the office?
What are static shocks?
Static electricity is trapped in an object until it comes in contact with an object with a weaker charge.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) varies in intensity –– the most extreme example would be a lightning bolt.
Familiar static shocks are when you walk on a carpet and touch a metal doorknob. While mostly harmless, they are still noticeable once it reaches 2,000 volts.
Are static shocks dangerous in the office?
Telltale signs of static in your office include clingy clothes, frizzy hair, and the occasional spark when you touch the doorknob.
While it’s not likely that you’ll be injured from static electricity, there’s a high possibility that it will do damage to the electronics in your office.
The shock that travels through circuit boards destroys critical elements in your internal computer components, such as hard disks and motherboard.
What causes static shocks in an office chair?
One of the main culprits to office static electricity is your office chair.
You might experience mild shocks whenever you sit in or get up from your office chair:
Static energy is generated as two non-conductive objects rub on each other. To put it simply, the contact between your office chair and clothes causes an electrostatic charge. Your “body voltage” stays low. It will be released, and you’ll feel a shock when you get up from the chair and touch another object.
Static electricity can also be produced as you roll your office chair over the floor. This is likely when you have a plastic floor mat or carpeted flooring.
How do you get rid of/reduce static in an office chair?
To protect yourself and your electrical equipment from static shocks from your office chair, you can try these methods:
1. Ground yourself frequently.
Every time you get up from your office chair, make sure to ground yourself frequently to avoid hurting yourself or damaging electrical equipment. While this method won’t prevent static charge, you can minimize it to the point that it’s unnoticeable.
If your chair or desk has metal legs, touch the metal part before sitting down or getting up from the chair.
Find other metal objects in your office (such as metal frames and windows) and touch them when you’re near.
2. Refrain from wearing synthetic fabrics.
Remember that it’s the contact between your clothes and office chair that generates the most static.
To minimize static in your office chair, pick clothes that are made of natural fibers. Synthetic (polyester or nylon) fabric is likely to retain static buildup. These synthetic clothes don’t hold moisture, so they are likely to develop an ion imbalance.
However, natural fabrics like wool and silk can also generate static. The best choices are cotton and leather.
To prevent static build-up on your clothes, you can try:
- Air drying clothes
- Use fabric softeners and dryer sheets
- Wool dryer balls
- Adding vinegar to your rinse cycle
- Inserting a metal safety pin on your pants or seam of your shirt
- Rubbing a wire hanger on your clothes
3. Keep your skin moisturized
Office environments are usually humid, causing your skin to be rough and flaky. Not many people know that dry skin can cause static as it rubs against your clothes.
This can be downright painful as you can get shocked when you touch an item that carries the opposite charge.
To prevent painful static shocks, moisturize regularly throughout the day.
You can also try using these products to minimize the effect of static on your office chair:
- Anti-static lotion
- Anti-static combs made of wood or graphite
- Anti-static shampoo
4. Change your footwear
Wearing shoes with rubber soles generates a lot of static energy. Here are some alternatives for reducing static electricity with your footwear:
- ESD Shoes : These are usually used in the electronics industry, but you can still use them in the office or at home to reduce static. Conductive ESD shoes come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit your lifestyle.
- Shoe strap : Anti-static heel straps are great for protecting electronics and removing electric shocks. They’re easy to adjust and durable.
- Shoes with leather soles : Unlike rubber soles, shoes with leather soles don’t generate static electricity. These are great if you’re looking for a professional work shoe.
- Anti-shoe covers : While not the best-looking accessory, non-conductive shoe covers are economical to protect sensitive devices.
- Anti-static socks : ESD socks are made with conductive yarn and eliminate electrostatic charge in the body.
5. Anti-static mats
Anti-static mats collect static and prevent the build-up of electric charge, effectively minimizing and removing static.
While made of different materials, the typical anti-static mat has three layers:
- Top layer: Vinyl with discharges conductors
- Middle layer: Conductive metal sheet allows discharge path to the ground
- Bottom layer: Non-skid foam
You can place an anti-static mat below your office chair or place an anti-static mat on your work table. Place it in front of your laptop or keyboard so that your wrists touch the mat first before touching your electronics.
6. Apply anti-static sprays
You can apply a thin mist of anti-static sprays on your clothing or directly on your office chair. This works similarly to applying fabric softener or rubbing dryer sheets.
The waxy build-up from anti-static sprays and fabric sprays helps stop static.
When cleaning devices and circuit boards, use an anti-static spray labeled for electronics .
7. Anti-static ESD Chair
If the fabric and plastic casters on your office chair produce a lot of static energy, it might be safer to invest in an anti-static ESD chair.
ESD chairs remove static potential when you stand up and sit down. These are made from static-free fabrics and other dissipative materials through ESD casters and chains.
This Bevco ESD chair has a polyurethane seat and is great for dissipating electrostatic discharge. You can opt to have standard glides or casters or replace them with polyurethane wheels .
How to prevent static shock in the office?
If static is still a problem in your office, you might have to apply a few measures to the whole office.
1. Place electronics in anti-static bags or foam
To prevent static from building up, you can place sensitive equipment and documents in ESD bags.
Anti-static bags are also able to protect the functionality of electronics from moisture and static discharge.
Anti-static bags come in different sizes so that you can fit different electronic parts, including hard disks, RAMs, LCD screens, and video cards.
Alternatively, you can also use anti-static foam wrap sheets for your electronics and chords.
2. Regulate office humidity levels
When air is dry, your body and skin end up with a larger charge. Keep in mind that air is driest in the winter. A dry office environment can also lead to health issues such as asthma, dry eyes, and itchy skin.
When your office environment is dry, consider installing a humidifier to build up moisture. Moisture will present static from building up.
Mini humidifiers can be placed on top of your desk, or you can install a large humidifier for the whole office
The optimum humidity level to prevent static electricity is between 30% to 40%. An indoor thermometer/hygrometer can help you keep track of office temperature and humidity levels.
3. Additional office static safety precautions
Here are some other tips that might prevent damage to your office equipment with static electricity:
- Have office technicians wear an ESD wrist strap to protect them from circuity
- Replace synthetic office equipment (made from plastic and polystyrene). Otherwise, avoid placing these materials near electronics.
- Treat office carpets with anti-static spray or install static-proof mats around the office.
- When cleaning circuit boards, avoid using compressed air
Static shocks from your office chair can potentially damage sensitive electronics in your workplace.
To reduce static shock from your office chair, you can:
- Spray your clothes, electronics, or upholstery with anti-static spray
- Use anti-static mats in your workspace
- Keep your skin moisturized and wear anti-static clothes and footwear
- Increase humidity levels
- Use anti-static bags and foams
You can also consider buying an ESD chair to eliminate office chair static.
Which method will you try? Let us know!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.