There are four primary types of disposable gloves: latex, nitrile, neoprene/chloroprene, and vinyl. What are the different materials and characteristics of these gloves? Read on to find out.
Latex is a natural rubber sap that is secreted by rubber trees; when their bark is cut, the rubber sap is used to repair and heal the bark. Over the years, scientists have created formulas to achieve disposable gloves with premium strength, elasticity, tactile sensitivity, and durability. Due to the variety of proteins found in natural rubber, some users may experience skin irritation and allergic reactions, which can also affect other people these gloves come in contact with during use.
The natural rubber latex gloves are made from gives them their stretchability. Gloves made from latex are comfortable and will conform to the shape of your hands. Latex gloves are an excellent choice for your comfort and protection needs.
Nitrile butadiene rubber (nitrile for short) is a synthetic rubber that does not contain latex proteins and is generally resistant to oil, fuel, and other chemicals.
Nitrile gloves are more puncture resistant and stronger than natural rubber gloves but are not as strong as neoprene. Nitrile gloves are similar to latex gloves and can be a comparable option for those that have latex allergies. Nitrile gloves provide flexible and tactile wear while generally molding well to hands to provide a tight, second skin fit.
Neoprene/chloroprene is an organic compound and a type of synthetic rubber that, like nitrile, does not contain latex proteins. These gloves alleviate the potential for adverse reactions associated with proteins in natural rubber latex.
Chloroprene gloves are best known for their resistance to a variety of acids, chemicals, and other harsh substances. Because they are made from neoprene, they maintain their flexibility even when working with a wide range of temperatures.
Vinyl gloves are latex-free gloves that come in both thin and thick sizes. They do not stretch and are less comfortable than latex, but still provide better tactile sensitivity than neoprene. Vinyl gloves are ideal for quick usage but are not great for working with hazardous materials.
Another option with some disposable gloves is to purchase them with or without powder, which can make it easier to slip gloves on but isn’t the best choice for all applications. For example, powdered gloves should not be used in food preparation.
Though disposable gloves are helpful with many different tasks, they are not suited to all kinds of uses, and the materials they are made from are not always biodegradable. While natural rubber latex does degrade, gloves made from man-made materials like vinyl and nitrile take up space in landfills for a very long time.
Disposable shoe cover dispensers and removers increase efficiency and productivity, promote safety, and improve compliance and cleanliness. Shoe Inn’s automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers can be simply and easily incorporated into virtually any workplace routine.
Shoe Inn Shoe Cover Dispensers
Shoe Inn’s line of automatic shoe cover dispensers offers a game changing way to increase efficiency/productivity and cut down on workplace injuries. Using a Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispenser is at least FOUR TIMES FASTER than putting shoe covers on manually. 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! On the safety side, eliminate issues with people potentially falling down while hopping around on one foot – what we call the “bootie hop,” which is a worker’s comp claim waiting to happen – or losing their balance while leaning against a wall to apply shoe covers. It is also worth noting that using automatic shoe cover dispensers increases health and sanitation compliance by facilitating hands-free, contamination-free shoe cover application.
Shoe Inn Stay
The Shoe Inn Stay is designed for medium to high volume usage areas where safety compliance is critical thanks to its built in handlebar. People can easily apply a pair of shoe covers in 5-10 seconds. One Shoe Inn Stay can cover up to 110 pairs of shoes at a time and requires no electricity, so it can be easily deployed at any suitable location.
Shoe Inn Fusion
The Shoe Inn Fusion is perfect for low to medium volume usage. Though it is almost the same footprint on the ground as the Shoe Inn Stay, the Fusion works in some tighter areas since it doesn’t have the vertical component and is also easier to transport. Users can easily apply a pair of shoe covers in 5-10 seconds. One Shoe Inn Fusion can cover up to 55 pairs of shoes at a time and requires no electricity, so it can be easily deployed at any suitable location.
Shoe Inn Shoe Cover Removers
Use of hands-free automatic shoe cover removers is the final piece to any health and safety routine in the workplace. Designed to prevent cross contamination, Shoe Inn offers two shoe cover remover options for safe, efficient, and sanitary removal of disposable shoe covers.
Designed for medium to high volume applications, the ASCR-33 features a 33-gallon storage canister that holds 600-plus used shoe covers (depending on the type of shoe cover).
Intended for low to medium volume uses, the ASCR-10 comes with a 10-gallon canister that holds 100 or more used shoe covers (depending on the type of bootie).
Automatically Apply and Remove Shoe Covers
If your business hasn’t started using automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers, it isn’t running as efficiently, cleanly, and safely as possible. Please contact Shoe Inn so we can help you to find a specific solution to fit your company’s particular needs. Contact us for a quote or demo and to learn more about how Shoe Inn’s automatic shoe cover system can benefit your business.
Areas where shoe covers are used vary across industries, but one thing is constant: you have to choose the right disposable shoe cover to meet your needs. While booties might get ranked pretty low in the overall scheme of things when it comes to what to focus on, choosing the wrong shoe cover can result in consequences that range from annoying and insignificant to chaotic and catastrophic. Shoe Inn can help you with clarifying the factors you are or should be considering for your shoe covers and the options we have that meet your needs.
Is it a cleanroom use?
Cleanrooms have stringent requirements, depending on the level of cleanroom. Two cleanroom classification systems are widely used: FS 209E and ISO 14644-1. Shoe Inn shoe covers and both of our automatic shoe cover dispensers are validated for use in cleanrooms up to Class 100 (FS 209E) and Class 5 (ISO 14644-1). Our cleanroom certificates are available to download from our website.
How do the shoe covers fit?
Requiring your employees to wear shoe covers should not interfere with their productivity or be potentially hazardous. One consideration is how they fit. Too loose, they can fall off or be a tripping hazard. Too tight and they will be difficult to put on without tearing and resulting in wasted shoe covers and unnecessary expense. Shoe Inn shoe covers are one-size-fits-most and will go up to about a size 15 or 16. The way the opening is designed allows them to fit over larger shoes without tearing. On smaller feet, the dispensing action puts the heel at the rear of the shoe cover while any excess material will be at the front, curled up like an elf’s shoe, and therefore out of the way.
What type of flooring surface do you have?
Focus on the type of floor in your facility when selecting the type of shoe covers to supply for your employees and visitors. Smooth and slippery surfaces can lead to slips and falls. In this case, you’ll want to implement something with added traction like our Super shoe covers, which should address the concerns of your Environmental Health and Safety folks and anyone else who deals with worker’s compensation claims. Rougher surfaces can chew up shoe covers, which can lead to cleanliness/contamination issues along with additional expense from having to change shoe covers too often. In this scenario, you should strongly consider a more durable option like our Hybrid shoe covers, which also last longer on boots/shoes with “aggressive” tread.
Do you need them to be waterproof?
While this consideration is trivial or irrelevant in most instances, sometimes shoe covers need to be waterproof because of wanting to prevent liquid from penetrating the shoe cover and getting onto the shoe or vice versa, needing to prevent outside moisture (snow, rain, ice, mud) that might be on the shoe from getting onto the floor. Shoe Inn has several waterproof options, including the aforementioned Super and Hybrid shoe covers and our basic plastic shoe cover.
Choosing the right shoe cover for your application and environment is an important consideration. While cleanliness may be your first priority, you should also factor in employee and visitor safety, whether or not you need a waterproof shoe bootie, and how durable you need the shoe cover to be. If you would like any help deciding on the right shoe bootie for your industry, contact Shoe Inn today.
The elevator conversation goes something like this: “We sell automatic shoe cover dispensers and shoe covers.” “Shoe covers?” “Yes, shoe covers or booties, like doctors wear.” “Oh yeah, hospital booties.” Other than hospitals, the usual suspects where shoe covers are used include pharmaceutical manufacturing, food processing, research and development, medical device manufacturing, etc. Less obvious applications include construction, real estate, and aerospace as well. Because most of us are not behind the scenes, we don’t realize there are dozens and dozens of industries where shoe booties are important. Here are three “off the beaten path” applications where disposable shoe covers are used:
Most often shoe booties are used in clean environments (for example, cleanrooms, laboratories, food processing facilities) where the intent is to keep outside contaminants from entering for reasons such as hygiene, food safety, product purity, testing results integrity, etc. Why would “dirty” industries (like your stereotypical manufacturing that is oily/greasy/otherwise messy) use them? The reason is that when employees or anyone else who has been in the dirty area comes into the clean office space for lunch, a quick meeting, or to exit the facility, they put on shoe covers in order to keep the area clean and to prolong the life of expensive flooring. A thick fabric bootie may do the trick, but a heavy duty shoe cover that will stand up to aggressive boot treads and keep dirty contaminants inside the shoe cover may be advisable.
Filming and photography
Location sets for filming and photography may involve exclusive homes and fragile surfaces that deserve protection from scuffs, scratches, and contamination. Also, companies may want to protect their green screens when people are walking or posing on them. Depending on the surface, a plastic shoe cover may be appropriate because it is waterproof and inexpensive. Another option that is also waterproof but has superior traction is the Super non-slip shoe cover, which is the go-to when slippery surfaces are involved.
Clean laundry doesn’t deserve to get dirty before it is put into use. No need to waste water and detergent for re-washing, right? Keeping large-scale laundry facilities clean is important in case the corner of a clean sheet or towel touches the ground, or a laundered uniform accidentally falls on the floor. A variety of types of shoe covers would work, perhaps a low cost fabric bootie.
Disposable shoe covers are ubiquitous and quite helpful in a wide variety of environments beyond the usual suspect applications. From military bases to national laboratories, child care facilities to parades of homes, energy production operations to battery manufacturers, shoe covers are a vital tool to keep environments clean and safe.
Though we carry a few other products like disposable gloves, sticky mats, and overshoes, at Shoe Inn our focus is on shoe covers and automatic shoe cover dispensers. Let’s just say they’re our bread and butter! However, we know not everyone understands shoe covers and dispensers like we do. Therefore, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about the Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispensing and removal system for your benefit.
Are Shoe Inn Shoe Cover Dispensers and Removers Easy to Use?
Absolutely! Both dispenser models are easy to load and use, especially after doing it a few times. Take a look at the various loading and usage videos on our videos page to see how fast and easy it is. We also have loading and usage instructions that can be downloaded and printed. Our removers are very easy to use and are ergonomically-friendly as well. Not only are they incredibly simple, Shoe Inn shoe cover dispensers and removers help increase efficiency/productivity and safety in the workplace to boot.
Do Shoe Inn Machines Make it Safer to Put Shoe Covers on and Remove Them?
No doubt. Using our dispensers eliminates leaning against a wall or trying to balance on one leg while putting a shoe cover on the other foot (what we call the “bootie hop” or a worker’s comp claim waiting to happen), thereby avoiding possible falls, injuries and the potential worker’s comp claims that could result. In fact, prior to implementing our system, some customers have even had employees injure themselves while sitting on a gowning bench and putting shoe covers on.
Just like putting shoe covers on manually, taking them off is also a hassle and can be dangerous (remember the bootie hop?). Using our automatic shoe cover remover eliminates the danger and will make your EH&S staff stress level go down to be sure.
How Does Using Shoe Inn Dispensers Increase Efficiency and Productivity?
Because it is a minimum of 4x faster to put shoe covers on with our dispensers, at least four people can get booted up in the same amount of time it takes for a person to put shoe covers on manually (see our Why Shoe Inn? video on the videos page). The faster that employees are able to boot up, the faster they can move to being productive where they are making the company money instead of costing money back in the gowning room.
Can My Company Save Money Using the Shoe Inn System?
On the surface, no, but dig a bit deeper and the picture changes. While our shoe covers may cost more than your regular shoe covers, our customers have found that the increased efficiency, productivity, and reduction in potential worker’s compensation claims more than offset the nominal difference.
Can Shoe Inn Products be Used in Cleanrooms?
Yes. Shoe Inn shoe covers and automatic shoe cover dispensers have been tested and validated for use in cleanrooms up to Class 100 and Class 5. Our cleanroom certificates are available here.
Do Shoe Inn Shoe Cover Dispensers or Removers Require Electricity?
No–our automatic shoe cover dispensers do not require electricity, which provides you the freedom to place your dispensers wherever you need them. This also allows you to use your valuable space in the most efficient way possible.
Because they only require a standard 120v electrical outlet, our removers can be easily deployed at any suitable location.
Can We Reuse or Recycle the Shoe Covers?
Our shoe covers are specially packed in a cartridge for easy loading and dispensing and thus cannot be reloaded into the Shoe Inn Fusion or Stay dispensers. Also, we do not recommend the reuse of shoe covers, because doing so would likely lead to contamination and defeat the purpose of using shoe covers in the first place. Regarding recycling, in theory the answer is yes, but we do not currently have a program for recycling. If you find or develop one, please let us know.
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!
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.
Automatic shoe cover dispensers and removers keep employees and visitors safer by reducing 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!
Putting 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 premium. 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
Manually 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.
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
Growing 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
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.
Cleanrooms (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.
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.
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.
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 ft3 of 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 m3 of 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.
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 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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.