Seven Reasons to Utilize Revolutionary Automatic Shoe Cover Dispensers and Removers

There are multiple methods for businesses and organizations to keep their facilities clean and minimize or prevent contamination from the wide variety of contaminants that exist on shoes.  The four most prevalent options are shoe covers/booties (disposable or reusable), dedicated/facility shoes, sticky/tacky mats, and chemical baths.  The relative pros and cons of these will be discussed in a future blog post.  This blog post focuses on shoe covers and a revolutionary technology for putting them on and taking them off.

Shoe covers are essential in many applications for keeping environments clean and free from contamination.  In some cases, you want to prevent whatever is on the floor from getting on your shoes.  Other times you want or need to prevent contaminants on your shoes from getting on the floors in your environment for maintenance and sanitation, health and safety, infection control and other reasons.  In the past people had to apply and remove their shoe covers manually, but this is time-consuming, can be dangerous, and is definitely not clean.  Alternatively, many entities are now utilizing automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers to address these issues.  Here are seven reasons why:

  • Speed: it’s faster

No bones about it, putting shoe covers on the old-fashioned way is time-consuming – the entire process, which includes grabbing a pair of shoe covers and finding a place to put them on, easily takes somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds each and every time.  Removing them can take even longer, especially in an environment that requires more extensive hygiene practices.  With Shoe Inn’s revolutionary automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers, the time is reduced to about five (5) seconds!

  • Efficiency = productivity = $$$

Applying shoe covers faster and more efficiently means employees can get to work faster. The Shoe Inn system makes the process of applying and removing shoe covers AT LEAST four times (4x) faster.  This significantly shorter gowning time equals increased efficiency that translates to increased productivity, meaning you are not wasting money paying your employees to put on shoe covers but instead are paying them in their work environment where they are being productive. Cumulatively, these small time saving increments add up to big savings for your business!

  • Easy breezy

Putting shoe covers on is easy for some people, a walk in the park.  However, for others it can be a real challenge for a variety of legitimate reasons. Many, many times we’ve been told by people at tradeshows (with colorful, choice words) how much they despise, detest, even flat out refuse to put shoe covers on.  Employ automatic shoe cover dispensers, which make it so much easier to put booties on, and those challenges and objections will vanish, thereby increasing compliance.  Same goes for the remover, just at the back end of the process.

  • Safety rules

Automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers keep employees and visitors safer by iStock_000020353612Largereducing the risk of injuring themselves while putting shoe covers on and taking them off.  Instead of bouncing around while attempting to balance on one foot and lifting the other leg, which we have dubbed the “bootie hop” (see The Bootie Hop video), people can safely apply and remove their shoe covers in an ergonomically friendly manner.  The handlebars found on the Shoe Inn Stay dispenser and both ASCR removers make it even safer and easier.  Say goodbye to those workers’ comp claims!

  • It’s cleaner

Open hand raised, Stop Bacteria sign painted, multi purpose concPutting shoe covers on and taking them off by hand is dirty business.  Your shoes, particularly the bottoms, are gross – just think about everything you’ve stepped in and on while walking around streets, parking lots, subways, parks, trails, public bathrooms, etc.  It is almost inevitable that you’re going to touch your shoes while putting shoe covers on manually and thus contaminate your hands.  Depending on the environment, used shoe covers can be soiled as well so automatic shoe cover removers do the dirty work for you.

  • Save precious space

Oftentimes wherever shoe covers need to be put on and/or taken off, space is at a Cleanroom employee putting on shoe covers and using a sticky matpremium.  Gowning benches and chairs take up space and can be obstructions.  Shoe cover dispensers and removers take up much less space, especially proportionately when factoring in how much more efficient they are in facilitating people getting through the process.  Fewer benches and chairs mean more space for other necessities.

  • Dressed to impress

Starward-virtual-proof-2Manually putting shoe covers on and taking them off is so old school.  While there will always be a place for doing certain things the old-fashioned way, why not look professional and impress your customers, visitors, regulators, inspectors and auditors?  In fact, you can customize your Shoe Inn dispensers and removers with your corporate logo, motto/slogan, contact information, etc. to further cement your brand.

As you can see, there are many benefits to implementing an automatic shoe cover dispensing and removal system.  Want to know more?  Check out our line of shoe cover dispensers, shoe covers and removers or contact us.  At Shoe Inn, we make putting shoe covers on and taking them off faster, easier, safer and cleaner!

USP 800 versus 797: New Guide for Handling Hazardous Drugs Includes Shoe Covers

USP <800>, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention’s new standard for handling hazardous drugs (HDs) in healthcare settings, includes significant safety standards for all healthcare workers, as well as patients and the general public, who have access to facilities where HDs are prepared. This includes pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, home health care workers, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians.  Entities that store, transport, prepare, or administer HDs are also affected, including but not limited to pharmacies, hospitals, patient treatment clinics, physicians’ practice facilities, and veterinary clinics.

USP <800> provides facilities with direction on how to set policy and identify what needs to be done for employee safety while compounding and dispensing HDs. These new safety standards expand upon USP <797>, which focused primarily on minimizing the risk of contaminating medicines when compounding sterile IV preparations. USP <800>, on the other hand, is aimed primarily at addressing the entire life cycle of an HD so that all who might come in contact with it are protected.

USP <797> and <800> are related in that each refer to a chapter in the US Pharmacopoeia.  USP <800> is not just limited to chemotherapy but also many drugs that now fall under the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) list.  USP <800> has a minor component that currently falls under USP <797> this year but will become fully enforceable in December 2019 and will require full cleanroom and garbing precautions.  USP <797> is under revision; therefore the current version will hold until at least the next year.  This is the year the Joint Commission and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring compliance with USP <797>.  Since this is the first year that the CMS plans to enforce the IV compounding regulations, most facilities are scrambling to meet compliance.

Health Effects Resulting from Exposure to Hazardous Drugs

Green barrels with toxic substancesGrowing evidence, which has been accumulated over decades by the USP, Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, Oncology Nursing Society, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that occupational exposure to the more than 200 HDs commonly used in healthcare settings can cause acute and chronic health issues. In addition, over 100 studies have documented evidence of HD contamination in the workplace, including the presence of HDs in workers’ urine. With nearly 8,000,000 healthcare workers exposed to HDs each year, USP <800> aims to prevent associated acute and long-term health effects.

Required Upgrades Under USP <800> Include Shoe Covers

Personal protective equipment (PPE)(gowns; head, hair, and shoe covers; and two pairs of chemotherapy gloves) is required for compounding both sterile and non-sterile HDs, and two pairs of such gloves are required for administering antineoplastic HDs. Facilities also need to develop standard operating procedures regarding appropriate PPE for any workers who otherwise handle HDs.

Both USP <797> and <800> include several references to shoe covers as detailed below.

Compliant Shoe Covers + Automatic Shoe Cover Application and Removal

Shoe Inn’s shoe covers meet USP <797> and <800> guidelines.  If you want to take make Happy-doctors-smallputting shoe covers on faster, easier, safer and cleaner, go with an automatic shoe cover dispenser like the Shoe Inn Stay. You can even take it a step further by implementing an automatic shoe cover remover.  These products help eliminate workplace injuries, prevent contamination, and save precious time (see just how quick and easy in our application and removal videos).

USP <800> became effective on July 1, 2018.

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USP <797> references to shoe covers

Appropriate personnel protective equipment (PPE) shall be worn when compounding in a BSC or CACI and when using CSTD devices. PPE should include gowns, face masks, eye protection, hair covers, shoe covers or dedicated shoes, double gloving with sterile chemo-type gloves, and compliance with manufacturers’ recommendations when using a CACI.

After donning dedicated shoes or shoe covers, head and facial hair covers, and face masks…

When compounding personnel exit the compounding area during a work shift, the exterior gown may be removed and retained in the compounding area if not visibly soiled, to be re-donned during that same work shift only. However, shoe covers, hair and facial hair covers, face masks/eye shields, and gloves shall be replaced with new ones before re-entering the compounding area, and proper hand hygiene shall be performed.

Appendix I: Order of compounding garb and cleansing in ante-area: shoes or shoe covers, head and facial hair covers, face mask, fingernail cleansing, hand and forearm washing and drying; non-shedding gown.

Appendix III: Dons shoe covers or designated clean-area shoes one at a time, placing the covered or designated shoe on clean side of the line of demarcation, as appropriate.

Appendix III: Removes shoe covers or shoes one at a time, ensuring that uncovered foot is placed on the dirty side of the line of demarcation and performs hand hygiene again. (Removes and discards shoe covers every time the compounding area is exited).

USP <800> references to shoe covers

Gowns, head, hair, shoe covers, and two pairs of chemotherapy gloves are required for compounding sterile and non-sterile HDs.

Head and hair covers (including beard and moustache, if applicable), shoe covers, and sleeve covers provide protection from contact with HD residue. When compounding HDs, a second pair of shoe covers must be donned before entering the C-SEC and doffed when exiting the C-SEC. Shoe covers worn in HD handling areas must not be worn to other areas to avoid spreading HD contamination and exposing other healthcare workers.

Hospital Employee Safety: Slips and Falls

Hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  In fact, hospital injuries occurred at almost twice the rate for private industry as a whole in 2011.  In terms of lost-time rates, it is more hazardous to work in a hospital than in manufacturing or construction.

unlucky carefree business man silhouetteHospitals have unique risks (lifting/repositioning patients, needlesticks), slippery surfaces, and a variety of other hazards.  Also, some caregivers feel it is their ethical duty to put their patients’ safety and health before their own.

For 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fully one quarter (25%) of all hospital caregiver injuries was from slips, trips and falls!  Considering the slippery floors in hospitals and the body positioning and movements that caregivers employ in performing their jobs, this statistic is somewhat understandable.  Injuries from slipping can impact employees’ ability to do their jobs, and result in decreased productivity, lost workdays, and expensive worker compensation claims.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a guide iStock_000020353612Largefor Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention for Healthcare Workers.  Though the guide does not address shoe covers, hospital EH&S/safety/risk managers can go the extra mile by implementing the Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispensing system with non-slip/high-traction shoe covers.  Shoe Inn can help keep your employees safe by reducing slips and falls associated with putting shoe covers on as well as using superior traction shoe covers.

Sell that House!

Have you ever walked into an open house and been asked to take your shoes off?  The realtor’s top priority is to sell the house and, in order to do that, they should keep it as clean as possible.  They’re far more likely to sell it faster and for the most money if it is clean and in the best shape.

Let’s face it: our shoes are dirty!  The usual suspects like dirt, leaves, mud, gum, sap, and a variety of disgusting things can get all over the floor.  Some shoes also scuff up the floor so the realtor has to spend valuable time cleaning after everyone leaves.  No wonder that as soon as you walk into the house for sale you may be asked to remove your shoes.

Picture this: you crouch down in front of strangers and spend a minute unlacing your shoes and adding them to the fleet of other peoples’ shoes.  Alternatively, maybe you try to balance on one leg while taking each shoe off, successfully or perhaps not so much.  Or maybe you put your hand on the wall for balance, thereby leaving a hand print.  Then you walk around the house in your (dirty?) socks, which can be quite awkward with other people around.  Plus, you can’t walk to the backyard or outside at all because your socks will get dirty (dirtier?) and then you’ll track dirt back into the house.  When leaving you have to do the reverse process: more time, more balancing acts, more hand prints on walls.

Does it have to be this way?

Assortment of shoe covers on shoesOf course not.  The solution?  Shoe covers.  You can simply have visitors put them over their shoes and the floors won’t get dirty, scuffed or scratched.  Unfortunately, there is a catch: regular shoe covers can be difficult to put on and you still have the issue of finding a place to sit down or balancing or leaning on a wall.  This can create a bit of a traffic jam at the entrance and cause people to get impatient.

This is why Shoe Inn provides automatic shoe cover dispensers, which make it faster, easier, safer and cleaner to put shoe covers on.  Nobody has to sit down, balance precariously while trying to avoid falling, leave hand prints on walls, or walk around in their socks.  Visitors will be much happier, sufficiently impressed, and more apt to buy the home.

Get your automatic shoe cover dispenser here today!

Cleanrooms

Cleanroom scientists wearing shoe coversCleanrooms (or clean rooms) are used in virtually every industry where small particles can adversely affect the manufacturing process.  Typically located in scientific research or manufacturing settings, a cleanroom is a controlled environment that has a controlled level of contamination (pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, chemical vapors, and aerosol particles) that is specified by the number of particles per cubic meter (m3) or per cubic foot (ft3) at a specified particle size.  Believe it or not, the ambient air outside in a typical city environment contains about 35,000,000 particles per m3, 0.5 μm and larger in diameter, which corresponds to an ISO 9 cleanroom.  At the other end of the spectrum, an ISO 1 cleanroom allows no particles in that size range and only 12 particles per m3 of 0.3 μm and smaller.

Cleanroom Overview

A cleanroom is any given contained space where provisions are made to reduce particulate contamination and control other environmental parameters such as pressure, temperature, and humidity. The key component is the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that is used to trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns and larger in size. All of the air delivered to a cleanroom passes through HEPA filters, and in cases where more stringent cleanliness performance is necessary, ULPA (Ultra Low Particulate Air) filters are employed.

The use of multi-layer adhesive mats for cleanrooms is almost universal.  Matting can vary in size, color, placement, and number based on the characteristics and logistics of each individual cleanroom.

Personnel who work in cleanrooms go through extensive training in contamination control theory, practices and procedures. They enter and exit the cleanroom through air showers, airlocks, and/or gowning rooms, and they must wear special clothing designed to trap contaminants that are naturally generated by our bodies.

Depending on the room classification or function, personnel gowning may be as limited as lab coats and hairnets/beard covers, or as extensive as being fully enveloped in multiple layered bunny suits with self-contained breathing apparatus.  The cleanroom clothing itself must not release fibers or particles to prevent contamination of the environment.

Cleanroom garments include things such as boots, shoes, shoe covers, beard covers, hairnets, bouffant caps, facemasks, coveralls, aprons, frocks/lab coats, gowns, glove and finger cots, hoods, and sleeves. The type of cleanroom garments used reflects the cleanroom classification and product specifications. For example, Class 10,000/ISO 7 cleanrooms may use simple smocks, head covers, and shoe covers.  On the other hand, careful gown wearing procedures with a zipped coverall, boots, gloves and complete respirator enclosure are required for Class 10/ISO 4 cleanrooms.

Cleanroom technicians wearing shoe covers
Cleanroom technicians wearing shoe covers

Air Flow Principles for Cleanrooms

Cleanrooms maintain particulate-free air through the use of either HEPA or ULPA filters employing laminar or turbulent air flow principles. Laminar, or unidirectional, airflow systems direct filtered air downward in a constant stream. Laminar airflow systems are typically employed across 80% to 100% of the ceiling to maintain constant air processing and unidirectional flow. Laminar flow criteria are mandated in ISO 1 through ISO 4 cleanrooms.  Turbulent, or non-unidirectional, air flow uses both laminar air flow hoods and non-specific velocity filters to keep cleanroom air in constant motion, although not all in the same direction. The rough air seeks to trap particles that may be in the air and drive them towards the floor, where they enter filters and leave the controlled environment.

Proper cleanroom design encompasses the entire air distribution system, including provisions for adequate downstream air returns. In horizontal flow applications, this involves the use of air returns at the downstream boundary of the process.  In vertical flow rooms, it requires the use of low wall air returns around the perimeter of the zone.  It should be noted that the use of ceiling mounted air returns is contradictory to proper cleanroom system design.

Cleanroom Classifications

Cleanrooms are classified by how clean the air is according to the number and size of particles permitted per volume of air. Federal Standard 209E is used here in the U.S.  The newer standard is TC 209 from the ISO (International Standards Organization).  Both standards classify a cleanroom by the number of particles found in the laboratory’s air. The cleanroom classification standards 209E and ISO 14644-1 require specific particle count measurements and calculations to classify the cleanliness level of a cleanroom or clean area.

Large numbers like Class 1,000 or Class 100,000 refer to FS 209E, and denote the number of particles of size 0.5 µm or larger permitted per ftof air. The standard also allows interpolation, so it is possible to describe other classes such as Class 2,000.

Small numbers refer to ISO 14644-1 standards, which specify the decimal logarithm of the number of particles 0.1 µm or larger permitted per mof air.  For example, an ISO 4 cleanroom has at most 104 = 10,000 particles per m³.

Both FS 209E and ISO 14644-1 assume log-log relationships between particle size and particle concentration. For that reason, there is no such thing as zero particle concentration.

US FED STD 209E cleanroom standards

Class Maximum particles/ft3 ISO equivalent
≥0.1 µm ≥0.2 µm ≥0.3 µm ≥0.5 µm ≥5 µm
1 35 7.5 3 1 0.007 ISO 3
10 350 75 30 10 0.07 ISO 4
100 3,500 750 300 100 0.7 ISO 5
1,000 35,000 7,500 3,000 1,000 7 ISO 6
10,000 350,000 75,000 30,000 10,000 70 ISO 7
100,000 3.5 x 106 750,000 300,000 100,000 700 ISO 8

ISO 14644-1 cleanroom standards

Class Maximum particles/m3 STD 209E equivalent
≥0.1 µm ≥0.2 µm ≥0.3 µm ≥0.5 µm ≥1 µm ≥5 µm
ISO 1 10 2.37 1.02 0.35 0.083 0.0029
ISO 2 100 23.7 10.2 3.5 0.83 0.029
ISO 3 1,000 237 102 35 8.3 0.29 Class 1
ISO 4 10,000 2,370 1,020 352 83 2.9 Class 10
ISO 5 100,000 23,700 10,200 3,520 832 29 Class 100
ISO 6 1.0 x 106 237,000 102,000 35,200 8,320 293 Class 1,000
ISO 7 1.0 x 107 2.37 x 106 1,020,000 352,000 83,200 2,930 Class 10,000
ISO 8 1.0 x 108 2.37 x 107 1.02 x 107 3,520,000 832,000 29,300 Class 100,000
ISO 9 1.0 x 109 2.37 x 108 1.02 x 108 35,200,000 8,320,000 293,000 Room air

How to Transition from ‘Dirty’ to ‘Clean’ While Booting Up in a Gowning Room

Prior to entering a cleanroom, employees need to get “gowned up” in special clothing designed to trap contaminants that are naturally generated by our bodies.  Depending on the room classification or function, personnel gowning may be as limited as hairnets/beard covers and lab coats, or as extensive as being fully enveloped in multiple layered bunny suits with self-contained breathing apparatus.

The Gowning Room

cleanroom-gowning-area-600

Cleanroom personnel generally “boot up” in dedicated shoes or shoe covers, and in order to make sure they don’t get contaminants on the shoe covers before entering the cleanroom, they typically follow a transition protocol from the “dirty” to the “clean” side of the floor/room.  This usually entails a gowning bench or chair placed along a line that has been taped or painted on the floor, or along the line between two different colored floor tiles.  While sitting, the employee puts the first shoe cover on, puts that foot down on the “clean” side, then repeats the action for the second foot.  Sometimes regular shoe covers tear while being put on, so the employee has to take them off, throw them away, and start the process over again.

A much easier, safer, and faster way of putting shoe covers on is to use a Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispenser.  These dispensers are similarly placed along the line between the “dirty” and “clean” parts of the floor.  In this setup, while standing on the “dirty” side, the employee puts the first shoe cover on, puts that foot down on the “clean” side, then repeats the action with the second foot and proceeds to the next step in the gowning process.  Because the employee does not have to go grab precisely two shoe covers, walk to the bench, sit down, put the shoe covers on, and stand back up, not to mention not having to deal with improperly sized and torn shoe covers, the “booting up” process is much more efficient, which can help alleviate gowning room bottlenecks and significantly improve productivity.

Sticky Mat Protocol for Use in Cleanrooms

Shoes on sticky mats
Sticky mats help trap dirt!

While many companies use shoe covers to prevent contamination, many Shoe Inn customers also use sticky mats to maximize contamination prevention.  The utilization of multi-layer adhesive mats for cleanrooms is almost universal. However, how the mats are used is unique to each cleanroom. Mats can vary in size, color, number, and placement based on the logistics and characteristics of each individual cleanroom.

Placement

Mats should be placed in an area where they will be on clean, hard flooring. They should be placed just before or just after the ingress/egress point for each cleanliness or control change. It is suggested that the placement sites are worked backward from the final clean area or cleanroom.
Cleanroom employee putting on shoe covers and using a sticky mat

  • cleanroom – gowning area
  • cleanroom – staging area
  • gowning area – control area
  • control area – common hallway
  • common hallway – warehouse or receiving
  • common hallway – public area

Matting should be placed so that all those passing through that point must step on the mats. Matting should be placed with the longer dimension of the mat in the same direction as the traffic flow for maximum footfalls on each mat. The minimum number of footfalls should be two with each foot for each location.

Size

The proper size mat for each area of placement depends on the width of the opening and the variance and direction of the traffic. Normally the width of the mat should be 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the width of the doorway. It does not normally need to cover the full width because ordinary traffic passes through the middle of the doorway and not along the edge. However, if the traffic enters at a sharp angle or from the side of the entryway, then the width of the mat needs to be wider than the doorway to allow for enough footfalls.

As stated above, the length of the mat should be long enough to provide at least two footfalls with each foot at each location. Usually this is a minimum of 45 inches.

Color

The color of the mats, which has no effect on the function of the mat, can vary from standard blue, white, and grey to custom colors and printed messages. In general, white shows the most dirt and particulates, and is normally preferred to make sure the layers are changed at frequent enough intervals. However, grey and blue work just as well when a maintenance schedule is set.

Layer MaintenanceSticky mat with shoes and cart

How often the layers should be removed depends on a number of factors:

  • How dirty the area the personnel are coming from is.
  • The number of people or pairs of feet per shift or per hour.
  • The difference in cleanliness between the areas.
  • The size of the mats and how many mats or locations are in the series.

In general, areas farther away from the cleanroom will be dirtier. Changing the layers at this point of use every half hour would be a benchmark with which to start. The final entry area into the cleanroom is probably from a clean area to a very clean area and each layer may last 4 to 8 hours.

However, this is just a rough guideline and each point of use will vary greatly. A few days of use and observation will help to determine the optimal mat layer change interval.

Installation

  1. Before placing a new mat down or replacing an existing mat, thoroughly clean the surface to remove contamination that may act as a barrier and keep the mat from properly adhering to the floor. Make sure to remove any adhesive residue if you are replacing an existing mat. It is recommended to use a pre-saturated wiper that contains a percentage of isopropyl alcohol. Make sure the surface is completely dry before application.
  2. To apply the mat, remove half of the release liner in the long direction of the mat, which will help with the alignment of the mat.
  3. Once you have the mat properly aligned in the location you want, start smoothing out the half of the mat with the adhesive exposed. Start at one end and work toward the middle making sure you do not trap air under the mat as you go, then remove the rest of the release liner and smooth the rest of the mat out in the same direction in which you removed the release liner.

Storage

Matting should be stored flat and for several hours in similar climate conditions as the point of use. For ideal results, the mats should be used in a controlled environment setting but may be placed in any area that has a temperature of 54-95 oF (12-35 oC).

Long-term storage of mats should always be on a flat and hard surface. Storage on the original shipping pallet is recommended. Normal warehouse conditions are usually acceptable but extreme temperatures (less than 32 or greater than 105 oF / 0 or 40 oC) should be avoided.

Storage of mats longer than one year from the date of purchase is not recommended. However, under normal storage conditions, matting should not have any variation in performance for a period of up to three years.

Summary

The utilization of multi-layer sticky mats for cleanrooms is almost universal.  In fact, many customers who use the Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispensing system also use these adhesive mats to further help prevent contamination within controlled environments.  Depending on various factors such as how dirty the area the personnel are coming from is and the level of cleanliness desired or mandated, this combined approach may be advisable or even required.