As with any workspace that requires a total lack of contamination, there are very strict rules to follow in a cleanroom environment. This is because humans naturally produce contaminants that interfere with the conditions necessary to make a safe and productive cleanroom.
Oils, flakes of skin, sweat, and hair can all contribute to the dust, airborne microbes, or aerosol particles that must be filtered out of the area in order to make for the cleanest room possible. If you are developing a cleanroom yourself, it is vital that you learn the rules and guidelines that govern a safe and productive workspace. Failure to do so could jeopardize your professional reputation and the safety of your products.
Possibly the most important rule on this list is that the only personnel that should enter the cleanroom are those who fully understand how to behave in those settings. The following rules demonstrate just how particular and careful one has to be while operating in a cleanroom. People who enter them should be trained professionals who are well-versed in the rules.
Furthermore, a cleanroom should never have more than the required amount of staff present. Only the people who need to work in the cleanroom should be there, while the rest of the staff should stay as far as possible away from the critical area.
Personal items like keys, wallets, and phones cannot be exposed to the cleanroom. They may carry oils or other contaminants that you will want to keep away from the workstations. It is best to leave them behind or keep them concealed in appropriate cleanroom garments.
Hair and beard nets are your best friends when working in a cleanroom. To avoid getting hair or oils on the products, make sure your hair is protected properly and consistently throughout the day.
Ask yourself, how well do you really know the ingredients that go into your favorite makeup or perfume? Not very well, most likely. Makeup and perfume would bring unnecessary contaminants into the cleanroom space. On days where you are working in a cleanroom, it is best to leave these items at home.
When you are in a cleanroom, it is best to think of everything on a particulate level. Think about how dust and particulates in the air may respond to what you wear, how you breathe, and even how you move. When a person runs or makes a quick motion in a cleanroom, they can stir up particulates in the air, which could contaminate the products. When you are in a cleanroom, make deliberate, slow motions, so as not to disturb the environment. Of all the rules to follow in a cleanroom environment this one may be the easiest to forget, so make sure you often keep it present in the minds of your employees.
Even in situations that do not require total cleanliness, it is best to avoid the workspace when you are unwell. Germs and other matter that come along with the common cold have no place in a cleanroom. It goes without saying that these contaminants can have an adverse effect on your work and products, not to mention that a sick person could spread the illness to their colleagues.
Though it can be frustrating to adorn yourself with so many items just to enter a room, it is always necessary to wear the proper gowns inside the cleanroom. Even if you only enter the space for a minute, you will still need your gloves, face mask, covered shoes, and safety glasses.
Smokers should know that residual smoke can last on their clothing and skin. It is advised that all smokers wait at least 20 minutes after smoking to enter the cleanroom. Doing so will give the smoke residuals time to leave clothing and skin.
Any time you and your garments touch another surface, you are transferring contaminants between the two. To limit the spread of contamination, it is wise to avoid leaning or sitting on the equipment. At the very least it is unprofessional behavior, and at worst it could compromise your work.
It is absolutely prohibited to bring food and beverages into a cleanroom. A high degree of particle emission can come from eating in that space.
Another important rule is that good cleanroom employees should frequently bathe, clip their nails, wash their hair, and do whatever else they can to maintain good hygiene; failure to do this could contaminate the projects and potentially make your colleagues sick.
Only the materials and objects needed for the cleanroom should be stored in the cleanroom. In addition, it is preferable that they be stored in cleanroom film and bags. If you are looking for space to store an unrelated object or piece of equipment, do not use your cleanroom as a closet. It is unprofessional and could lead to contamination.
Similar to the rule about sitting on the equipment, you want to avoid contact with anything that has spent time outside the room when you are in a cleanroom—including your face and hair. Though you may feel that gloved hands give you the freedom to use your hands as you please, the gloves become contaminated and nearly useless when they touch areas that produce oils, sweat, or hair.
These rules are not just persnickety details concocted to complicate your life—ultimately, they are important guidelines for keeping your cleanroom and your business safe. As the operator of a cleanroom, the last thing you want is to build a reputation for laziness or carelessness. Even if it means being harder on employees more than you might be used to, it is your responsibility to commit to the highest possible standards of cleanliness and care as a cleanroom operator.
Your invading enemies are oils, flakes of skin, and hair. You must treat them like a threat to your work and professional standing, because in many ways, that is exactly what they are. At the same time, try not to let yourself get too stressed by these rules. Over time, this will all fall into muscle memory and become a natural part of their daily responsibilities if you train your staff well enough.