Why Do We Need to Worry about Static Electricity?

In this lesson, you will learn more about how static electricity is formed and why you must be aware of static electricity risks when handling flammable fluids.


How Does Different Material Behave in Terms of Static Electricity?

Conductivity differs between different materials. To know how to handle your equipment onboard, you will learn more about the classification of materials in this lesson.


What Are the Sources of Static Electricity Onboard?

In this lesson, you will learn more about static accumulators and the importance of interting when handling flammable fluids.


What Precautions Can Be Implemented to Mitigate the Risks Posed By Static Electricity?

What can you do to minimize the risks of static electricity? In this lesson, you will learn more about precautions to prevent incidents that electrostatic discharges may cause.

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Step 2 of 41 minute read


The most important countermeasure that must be taken to prevent an electrostatic hazard is to bond all metallic objects together to eliminate the risk of discharges between objects that might be charged and electrically insulated. To avoid discharges from conductors to earth, it is normal practice to include bonding to earth (‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’). On ships, bonding to earth is effectively accomplished by connecting metallic objects to the metal structure of the ship, which is naturally earthed through the sea. 

Some examples of objects which might be electrically insulated in hazardous situations and which must therefore be bonded are:

  • Ship/shore hose couplings and flanges, except for the insulating flange or single length of non-conducting hose required to provide electrical isolation between the ship and shore.
  • Portable tank washing machines.
  • Manual ullaging and sampling equipment with conducting components.
  • The float of a permanently fitted ullaging device if its design does not provide an earthing path through the metal tape.

The best method of ensuring bonding and earthing will usually be a metallic connection between the conductors. Alternative means of bonding are available and have proved effective in some applications, for example semi-conductive (dissipative) pipes and ‘O’ rings, rather than embedded metallic layers, for GRP pipes and their metal couplings.

Any earthing or bonding links used as a safeguard against the hazards of static electricity associated with portable equipment must be connected whenever the equipment is set up and not disconnected until after the equipment is no longer in use. 

Avoiding Loose Conductive Objects

Certain objects may be insulated during tanker operations, for example:

  • A metal object, such as a can, floating in a static accumulating liquid.
  • A loose metal object while it is falling in a tank during washing operations.
  • A metallic tool, lying on a piece of old lagging, left behind after maintenance.

Every effort should be made to ensure that such objects are removed from the tank since there is evidently no possibility of deliberately bonding them. This necessitates careful inspection of tanks, particularly after shipyard repairs.