Workplace Contamination

Contamination in the workplace can halt production, necessitate expensive product recalls, or require lab experiments to be started over. It is a very real concern, perhaps even a fear, that laboratories, food processing companies, and manufacturers are particularly aware of and have measures in place to minimize or prevent. In this post, we discuss what contamination is, how it can be spread, and what can be done to try to prevent it.

Contamination: what is it?

The definition of contamination is the act of contaminating, or of making something impure or unsuitable by contact with something unclean, poisonous, etc. One of the most publicly visible examples of the effects of contamination is widespread food borne illness leading to hospitalizations and deaths. Negative food safety headlines are the worst nightmare of food processing companies and restaurants. This issue is discussed further in our shoe covers in the food industry blog post.

How is it spread?

istock_000015278265xlargeContamination can be spread through a variety of ways, including through the air (think tiny infectious droplets spread by coughs and sneezes), water, food, touching unclean surfaces, etc. Workers who don’t correctly follow procedures can cause cross-contamination, thereby halting production, having to decontaminate or discard products, needing to clean equipment, and other effects that result in lost time and money.

What can your company do to be safe from contamination?

Open hand raised, Stop Bacteria sign painted, multi purpose concCompanies minimize workplace contamination by developing, implementing, and enforcing proper processes and procedures (including disinfection and cleaning procedures), having necessary infrastructure and equipment, and the like. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is also an important consideration. By wearing shoe covers, hair nets, face masks, beard covers, and gloves, potential contaminants should be kept away from critical areas. The PPE will also help keep the work environment clean and sanitary.

Contamination is a very important matter, but you can lessen the likelihood of it occurring if you know what it is, how it spreads, and what can be done to minimize or prevent it entirely with cross-contamination prevention. Compliance with company processes and procedures is critical, as is having proper infrastructure and equipment, which may include shoe covers, disposable gloves, and sticky mats.

Shoe Covers in Specific Industries: Manufacturing

One of many industries where using shoe covers can be advantageous is the manufacturing industry. Many manufacturing businesses require personnel and visitors to put shoe covers on before entering the manufacturing area or when entering the office space from a dirty manufacturing area. We wrote about this under the header “Dirty business” in another blog post.

unlucky carefree business man silhouette

Shoe covers for workmen can also help with safety and accident prevention. It is important to provide safety for employees and visitors as they go from one surface or area to the next. In manufacturing environments, people may slip, especially on wet or smooth surfaces. While there is only so much any shoe cover can do on wet or oily/greasy surfaces, the anti-slip properties of some of our shoe covers can help reduce slips and related accidents.

So, which shoe covers are best for the manufacturing industry? While all of our shoe covers are used in virtually every industry that uses booties, some are more prevalent than others. Shoe Inn primarily provides protection for manufacturing companies with two different shoe covers. The Hybrid shoe cover has a heavy duty, waterproof outer layer that now covers most of the shoe cover; it is our most durable option. Alternatively, andiStock_000020353612Large especially if traction/slip resistance is a primary consideration, our Super shoe covers have an anti-slip outer layer and are 100% waterproof.

Bottom line, shoe covers for workmen are an important piece of an overall workplace safety program in the manufacturing industry.

GMP and Shoe Inn Products

Good manufacturing practices (GMP) are the practices required in order to conform to the guidelines recommended by agencies that control the authorization and licensing of the manufacture and sale of food and beverages, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, and cosmetics. These guidelines provide minimum requirements that a manufacturer must meet to assure that their products are consistently high in quality, from batch to batch, for their intended use. The main purpose of GMP guidelines is always to prevent harm from occurring to the end user.[1]

GMP covers the entire operation – everything from the materials used to employee personal hygiene. All guidelines follow a few basic principles, one of which is particularly relevant to Shoe Inn products:

  • Manufacturing facilities must maintain a clean and hygienic manufacturing area.

glovesProcedures, like wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), help maintain the clean and hygienic manufacturing area and reduce the risk of contamination. Garments such as smocks, hair nets, beard covers, disposable gloves, and shoe covers are donned beforeAll-shoe-covers-on-shoes-500entering critical environments and manufacturing areas. Oftentimes sticky mats, also known as tacky mats or cleanroom mats, are used in parts of facilities to pull contaminants off the bottom of street shoes prior to entering the gowning area or other sensitive areas. A newer technology that is being employed is the use of a UVC light sanitizing system to kill germs and pathogens on the soles of footwear.

Shoes on sticky mats

When it comes to adhering to GMP protocols, Shoe Inn has a range of products that will definitely help with maintaining clean and hygienic manufacturing areas.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_manufacturing_practice

Three “Off the Beaten Path” Applications Where Shoe Covers are Used

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:

  • “Dirty business”

Most often shoe booties are used in clean environments (for example, cleanrooms, laboratories, food processing facilities) where the intent is to keep outside contaminants iStock_000020583218XLargefrom 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.

  • Textile services

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.

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!

Who Needs an Automatic Shoe Cover Dispenser?

An automatic shoe cover dispenser, who needs that?  When it comes to putting on shoesitting-bench-shoe-covers-158 covers, you don’t think much about it — you just do what you’ve always done, sitting on a bench or balancing on one leg while trying to put a shoe cover on the other foot (what we call the “bootie hop”).  Sounds simple, but for many people it is not.  If you find it difficult to bend over and tie your shoes or to balance on one leg, then you know how challenging it can be to put shoe covers on.  Quite frankly, most people who have to wear shoe covers despise putting them on.  Also consider workplace injuries happening during the process of putting them on — they do happen.  In fact, the “bootie hop” is a worker’s comp claim waiting to happen.  Last but not least, what about the bottleneck that is created when you have a lot of people who need to put them on at the same time?  Shoe Inn can help alleviate all of these issues.  Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispensers are ideal for use in a variety of environments such as manufacturing and food processing plants, laboratories and clean rooms, medical and healthcare facilities, and anywhere else people need to put shoe covers on faster, easier, safer and cleaner.  There is no doubt that you will benefit from the ease of use, time savings, and added safety from using Shoe Inn automatic shoe cover dispensers.