Static & Mechanical Sparks and Arc Flash

Ampco Safety Tools are used to protect against Mechanical Sparks such as Friction and Impact Sparks caused by steel tools. NFPA 77, Recommended Practice on Static Electricity 2007, states that Static Sparks are the result of an electrical charge accumulating on the surfaces of two materials being rubbed together. If these materials are not grounded they may accumulate sufficient electrical charge to cause a spark. Static sparks like mechanical sparks can ignite vapors, gases and dusts in flammable atmospheres.

According to NFPA 77, an object is anti-static if the object is capable of dissipating a static electric charge. The metals used to make Ampco Safety Tools are highly conductive, therefore anti-static as they are capable of dissipating a static electric charge if grounded. Special care must be taken to properly ground tools with wood or fiberglass handles as these materials do not conduct electricity. AMPCO tools should be grounded if there is a concern for static sparks.

Other recommended safety measures to guard against static sparks are:

  • Ground all electrically conductive objects or devices – including containers of coating materials, wash cans, guards, tools, hose connectors, brackets, and any other electrically conductive objects.
  • Ground personnel – shoes must have conductive soles, such as leather or grounding straps. Rubber or plastics soles are not conductive. Gloves worn must be conductive.
  • Floors – must be electrically conductive and grounded. Do not cover the floor with cardboard or any non-conductive material which would interrupt grounding continuity.
  • Dust control equipment – must be grounded to dissipate electrostatic charge.

Arc Flash, on the other hand, is an electric current with luminous discharge formed when a strong current jumps a gap. It is a release of energy, a short circuit through air from one conductor to another or to ground. Ampco Safety Tools do not protect against arc flash. For more information, go to “Understand Arc Flash” from OSHA (PDF).


Disclaimer: The information contained herein is intended for general information purposes only. It is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards and should NOT be construed as legal advice or opinion. Consult with Safety Professionals / Industrial Hygienists for specific information regarding applications at your facility.