They are worn on the wrists or shoes to provide a path between the wearer and the ground or mat to dissipate or conduct static electricity in a route that doesn’t negatively affect any machinery, equipment, parts or workers.
When handling, assembling, manufacturing, repairing or changing parts in computer equipment, electronics, cell phones, medical equipment and semiconductors, among many others, ground straps are an effective method to guard against ESD. This antistatic device prevents interference, catastrophic failure and permanent damage to electronic devices, as well as high voltage shock to workers in industrial, laboratory or clean room environments.
If a worker doesn’t use a static control device like a ground strap, the RAM stick, processor, mother board, hard drive, graphics card and circuit board in internal computer equipment could be permanently damaged. Even when working on a desktop computer in the home or office for any reason, a ground strap should always be worn or substituted with some other form of ESD product, like anti static gloves, spray or mats.
Most ground straps are attached to the wrist with Velcro, and are either made for the left or right hand. While they should not be short enough to interrupt or increase the difficulty of the work the person is engaging in, all ground straps should be shorter and measured in inches, not feet. If they are too long, they are not considered effective-the shorter the better.
A ribbon makes contact with the wearer’s skin or socks, and routs the electrical current to a safe ground, usually a mat. The strap can be braided, mesh, strip or solid wire. All of these are flexible and usually covered in plastic or fabric. The wrist band is usually made out of a conductive fabric and connected to a small piece of metal, which is then connected to a long cord, which is connected to a crocodile clip, which is connected to a ground device.
The wire, no matter what form, is often made of copper because of its electrical conductivity and the fact that it is a malleable and flexible metal, allowing the wearer to move about easier than if it were made of a rigid material. They are inexpensive and usually sold individually, but for industrial purposes, may be sold in bulk amounts.