A Look at Cleanroom Clothing Requirements

Protective clothing is an essential piece of safety equipment meant to protect the wearer from various exposures. One subset of protective clothing, however, serves a second purpose. While cleanroom protective clothing guards the wearer against exposure to various hazards, it is also designed to prevent the cleanroom from becoming sullied by contaminants from the wearer’s clothing or person.

Protective clothing, then, is essential for keeping a cleanroom, well, clean. It helps contain the skin and hair we are constantly shedding, as well as bacteria, mucus, germs, and other things that may be inadvertently introduced in the cleanroom atmosphere.

 

What Is a Cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a space used for manufacturing or research that must be kept free of dust and other particles.

It is also typically temperature- and humidity-controlled to protect the sensitive equipment or manufactured components within it.

To access a cleanroom, workers need to walk through an air blast (or air shower) that will blow away the particles on their clothing. Items may be introduced to into the cleanroom by being passed through an airlock.

Cleanrooms are used in a number of applications, including:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Aerospace
  • Food processing
  • Medical device manufacturing
  • Manufacturing electronic components
  • Laboratories and research facilities

Cleanroom Protective Clothing Standards

OSHA

While OSHA does have guidelines for industrial cleaning that includes information on cleaning cleanrooms, it does not have a standard for cleanroom protective clothing.

ISO

The current international standard for cleanrooms is ISO 14664. It outlines 10 classes of cleanroom, along with the type of protective clothing required for each.

To give you a sense of what cleanroom clothing involves, here is what the ISO standard requires for the “most clean” (Class 1) protective clothing:

  • Hood
  • Bouffant hat
  • Coverall
  • Intersuit (worn undreneath the coveralls)
  • Boot covers
  • Goggles
  • Facemask
  • Gloves

The standard also recommends changing all of this protective clothing with every single entry to the cleanroom. Wearing the protective clothing outside the sterilized environment can cause particles to adhere to it, which compromises the cleanliness of the clothing.

Disposable Vs. Reusable Protective Clothing

Once you have conducted an analysis and determined the level of protective clothing required in your cleanroom, you will face a key decision: do you purchase reusable or disposable protective clothing?

 

Important considerations include:

  • Cost
  • Wearability
  • Worker comfort
  • Disposal procedure (and associated costs)
  • Laundering or sterilization requirements

Disposable Protective Clothing

While using protective clothing that can simply be discarded after each use is often the easiest solution, it’s important to take the disposal process into consideration.

Depending on the work being done, disposable cleanroom clothing might have to go into a different waste stream than ordinary waste. If that is the case, it may affect the cost and convenience of using this type of equipment.

When dealing with the strictest classes of cleanrooms (especially Class 1 cleanrooms), disposable, single-use clothing is usually the most effective (and cost-effective) option.

Reusable Protective Clothing

Non-disposable clothing also presents certain issues and inconveniences. If the laundering and cleaning of the equipment is handled by an offsite facility, you have to make ensure that there the cleaning and transporting of the equipment to the site does not introduce any contaminants.

In one case, an audit of a food processing facility uncovered that the protective clothing the company used in its cleanroom was transported to their facility from a local laundry facility by a driver who also picked up soiled laundry from three motels on his way. Further review revealed that the protective clothing was sometimes washed and dried together with the motel’s towels and sheets. The water and dryer temperature settings, moreover, did not meet the relevant standards or match the documented needs of the processing plant.

As this illustrates, ensuring that the clothing is properly laundered and handled should be factored in as one of the additional costs. It’s one corner that should definitely not be cut.

Combining Both Options

In some cases, it might be best to use a combination of both disposable and reusable protective clothing.

Faceshields, for instance, might be sanitized after use even if most of the protective clothing employed is disposable.

Tips for Purchasing Cleanroom Clothing

  • Make sure that the clothing you purchase matches the recommendations from your cleanroom risk and hazard analysis.
  • Cheaper options are not always better, even when it comes to disposable clothing. Some more expensive options are also sturdier and can prevent accidental rips and tears in the material.
  • Some disposable protective clothing can be used more than once. The manufacturer will inform you whether this is the case.
  • Buy sizes that meet or match your workers’ measurements. Keep enough large and extra-large protective clothing on hand to meet emergency or unforeseen circumstances.
  • The protective clothing should be individually sealed and packaged, or stored in a cleanroom until use. When it comes to cleanroom clothing, how you store it is just as important as how you use it.

Summary

Managing your cleanroom is not necessarily complex, but it is detailed and requires performance management and a proper audit.

Selecting protective clothing also doesn’t have to be complicated. But when it comes to cleanrooms, you must make sure that it performs both of its functions adequately: protecting the worker and containing contaminants.

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OSHA BASICS: WHAT IS AN OSHA COMPETENT PERSON?

If you’re new to safety, you may wonder what OSHA means by the phrase competent person.

Or even how one becomes an OSHA competent person.

In this article, we’re going to give you the straight skinny.

We’ll start by giving you the general definition of the phrase that OSHA provides in 1926.32(f). But that’s not the full story, because some standards make additional requirements about competent persons. And so we’ll provide some links to help you find those standards. And finally, we’ll give you some more links for related OSHA Fact Sheets, e-Tools, Quick Cards, and more.

This will give you any and all information you need about competent persons and the way OSHA refers to it in regulations.

Definition: Competent Person (OSHA)

In 1926.32(f), competent person is defined as “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” As you probably know, 1926 is the set of OSHA regulations for the Construction industry. There is no equivalent definition for the phrase competent persons in 1910.2, the definitions at the beginning of the OSHA General Industry regulations, but OSHA seems to use the 1926 definition universally throughout their materials. Anyone have some thoughts or additional comments on that? I’d be curious.

On OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page dedicated to competent persons, OSHA includes the definition from 1926 above. But in addition, they add this description: “By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person.”

Standards With Additional Specific Requirements to Be Met By Competent Person

If you notice that definition just above, OSHA mentions that some standards include additional specific requirements a person has to meet as a competent person.

OSHA’s been kind enough to provide a list of those for you. Just click the following link fora list of the OSHA standards that use the phrase competent person.

Please note the link above also takes you to some additional information OSHA has pulled together about mentions of competent persons in:

  • Preambles to final rules
  • Directives
  • Standard interpretations
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Some Unexpected Feedback

When we launched our new LMS (Learning Management System) platform earlier this year, we were excited and loved all of the positive comments regarding the new look and dynamic approach to our online safety courses.  However, some of the feedback was not exactly what I expected – and it allows me to make a point to all of our students, prospective students and members throughout the world.

Some of the individuals who were taking the courses were not happy that they could not simply click through the material, go straight to the test and take it.  They were not interested in reading the content; they simply wished to take the test.  I want to make this point, and, to be very clear, our certifications are not an exam – they are a course that you must take that INCLUDES an exam to show competence.  There are other organizations that provide exams only, but NASP/IASP is not one of them.  We are a company that specializes in continuing education for safety and environmental professionals.

Honestly, I do not understand why one would want to invest money in a course and not wish to read the material that is provided.  I’ve been in safety for almost 30 years, and I am constantly learning new things.  Even if the material is nothing more than a thorough review, it is ideal to reinforce this information even for a seasoned professional.  My point is this: if you purchase a course from us, you must view each page.  We cannot force you to read it, but it is in your best interest to do so. It would be difficult, at best, to pass the test without doing so, and besides, you are missing such a great opportunity to keep yourself educated and up-to-date on the various regulations and standards affecting our industry.

If you are old school (like me), perhaps the classroom version of the CSM is a better option. Our last CSM Classroom Course for 2018 will be in New Orleans on October 1-5.

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4 Psychological Factors that Impact Driver Safety

In 2017, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes according to the National Safety Council, with the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road being alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving. And, as an employer, you play a big role in keeping roads safe. Millions of employees drive as part of their jobs. Some are professionally trained drivers, but many are not, and if a job does not primarily involve driving, the employee often does not receive the same driver safety management that professional drivers do.

As we recognize the final week of National Safety Month’s focus on driver safety, one way that we can help all employees be safer drivers is by understanding the (too well-known) external factors that can influence safety when on the road, like bad weather or that other driver swerving lanes during rush hour. But we’re probably less aware of the internal, psychological factors that impact each employee differently while driving and that impact tendencies to drive while impaired, speed, or allow distractions while driving.

Here are four internal factors that can impact employee driver safety:

1. Awareness

There are some drivers who acknowledge and remember almost every detail they come across in their immediate surroundings and can react or respond to something in their field of vision, like traffic lights, road signs, pedestrians, oncoming traffic, while others may only focus on one aspect of driving, like their speed, but they won’t notice the cars in the other lane or may not be able to react quickly. The average human response time to visual stimuli is about 0.25 seconds. So, by definition, about half of the population will react more slowly. Considering that a vehicle traveling at 40 mph will travel about 120 feet (eight car lengths) before it can stop, you can see how even a very small interpersonal difference in the ability to perceive objects in your field of vision or in reaction time, can be the difference between a crash or a near miss.

Assessing whether or not employees have the tendency to be less aware in situations like driving can help key into where their potential for risks lie. Remind them that they may be less likely to notice details in their surroundings, so they should make the extra effort to focus on the task at hand and ignore distractions so that they can be prepared for unexpected external factors, like a fallen tree or a vehicle stopping suddenly in front of them.

2. Emotional Control

Some individuals get more frustrated, agitated, or stressed than others. Emotional control one of the most well-known personality traits in psychology. We know from research that people who are lower in this factor tend to be injured more often. When you think about road rage and its associated dangers, it’s not difficult to imagine that some individuals will be in an agitated mental state much more often and faster than others, leading them to engage in riskier driving behaviors.

So, if someone low in emotional control encounters an external factor like rainy rush hour traffic, a significantly higher risk of a crash could result. If one has the tendency to get easily frustrated or agitated, he or she can reduce risk by shifting schedules to avoid driving during rush hour or other high-stress times.

3. Following Rules

Rule following behavior is partly a function of personality traits like conscientiousness and need for structure. Thus, some individuals tend to naturally prefer rules and policies – a “set way to do things.” For this type of person, abiding by state and federal driving laws is a no-brainer. However, those who are less rule-bound tend to see policies or rules more as general guidelines.

Individuals who are naturally less likely to follow rules may have increased risk of a crash when faced with external factors like snowy conditions or a roadwork area. Helping employees who are low in rule-following to identify this tendency can lead to a stronger understanding of how, when faced with external factors and driving risks, following rules can mean the difference between life and death. Here are more coaching tips for leaders with employees who bend and break rules.

4. Caution

We all differ in terms of how much risk we are comfortable with in most situations, as well as how impulsive we are. One could argue that people who are more comfortable with risk are more likely to talk or text on the phone while driving, for example. But if they do decide to do that, it’s likely that the combination of comfort level with risk and cognitive distraction at the same time can spell potential disaster. If you find that your employees are comfortable taking risks, remind them that they’re not only putting themselves in danger, but other drivers and pedestrians.

Unfortunately, internal and external factors can occur together further impacting our safety on the road. Assessing your workforce to understand their safety profiles can help identify where higher risks lie. You can then set up driver safety training or you can restructure your workforce, shifting those who are likely to be more unsafe on the road into a role that don’t require driving. And, while there’s not much we can do about the external factors alone, learning about these internal psychological tendencies allows drivers to be more prepared to avoid the risks associated with external factors.

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Some Unexpected Feedback

When we launched our new LMS (Learning Management System) platform earlier this year, we were excited and loved all of the positive comments regarding the new look and dynamic approach to our online safety courses.  However, some of the feedback was not exactly what I expected – and it allows me to make a point to all of our students, prospective students and members throughout the world.

Some of the individuals who were taking the courses were not happy that they could not simply click through the material, go straight to the test and take it.  They were not interested in reading the content; they simply wished to take the test.  I want to make this point, and, to be very clear, our certifications are not an exam – they are a course that you must take that INCLUDES an exam to show competence.  There are other organizations that provide exams only, but NASP/IASP is not one of them.  We are a company that specializes in continuing education for safety and environmental professionals.

Honestly, I do not understand why one would want to invest money in a course and not wish to read the material that is provided.  I’ve been in safety for almost 30 years, and I am constantly learning new things.  Even if the material is nothing more than a thorough review, it is ideal to reinforce this information even for a seasoned professional.  My point is this: if you purchase a course from us, you must view each page.  We cannot force you to read it, but it is in your best interest to do so. It would be difficult, at best, to pass the test without doing so, and besides, you are missing such a great opportunity to keep yourself educated and up-to-date on the various regulations and standards affecting our industry.

If you are old school (like me), perhaps the classroom version of the CSM is a better option. Our last CSM Classroom Course for 2018 will be in New Orleans on October 1-5.  Click here for details and to register.

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NASP is Going to the NSC Congress & Expo in October

This year, NASP employees will be attending the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Houston, TX October 22nd-24th. This is the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals, and expected attendance is anticipated to be over 15,000. We are excited about the variety of excellent speakers, the diverse topics to be discussed and the hundreds of exhibitors that will be on hand, including NASP. This will be the first year that NASP has set up an exhibitor booth, and we encourage you to come by and say “hi.” We are located at booth #5043 so you may meet with some of our staff and discuss any of your safety-related needs.  We urge you not to miss this event. Click on the following link for details.

NSC Congress and Expo

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Silence is Deadly: Tips for Safety Talks

MAJORITY OF WORKERS DON’T SPEAK UP WHEN THEY SEE A HAZARD

Silence may be golden in some cases, but not when it comes to workplace

safety. Workers need to speak up. Conversations between supervisors

 

and employees about safety should happen frequently, but research cited

by OSHA in its new Better Safety Conversations pamphlet shows that’s

not always the case. Ninety-three percent of employees said their work group is currently at risk from a safety issue that’s not being discussed.

It’s crucial that workers feel safe sharing their opinions and expressing their worries about certain tasks. Promoting a culture of openness and accountability goes a long way in creating a safe workplace.

Conversation Starters

Bringing up safety in a way that will ensure workers listen and don’t feel attacked is easier said than done. When you notice an employee participating in potentially unsafe behavior, consider using one of these three starting phrases:

  • “I’d like to talk to you about something important. Let’s review the safest way to do this task, so you and your team are not at risk of getting hurt.”
  • “I respect your experience and want to make sure nobody is injured, so I’d like to work with you to address this issue.“
  • “Can we talk about what I’m seeing and figure out a better way to do it?”

Walking the Talk

Another way to improve safety conversations is telling short,

compelling stories to reinforce the message you want to get across. Stories don’t have to be longwinded and may in fact work better when limited to 20 or 30 seconds. Most importantly, supervisors need to lead by example. Paying lip service to safety doesn’t work if they’re also not wearing PPE or not following safety procedures – so make sure they’re not just talking a good game but also staying safe.

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NASP Continues to Grow…

Pete Nemmers is a Safety Specialist at NASP, where he develops new training content for our Learning Management System and aids in technical support for our customers.  He will also begin training for NASP in the upcoming year.

Pete spent 8 years in the Army serving as a Military Police Officer which included a tour in Iraq. After serving, Pete obtained his degree in Criminal Justice. Before joining us at NASP, Pete was an accomplished Safety and Hazmat Manager for a large retail establishment.

 

Julia Smith is the new national account executive for NASP, where she works with new and current students to provide assistance with various safety development courses. Julia moved to North Carolina a little over a year ago from Pennsylvania, but she is originally from Texas where she has worked in the Oil and Gas industry in operations and business development. She attended Texas A&M receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Business and is currently studying to obtain her Masters in Engineering at George Washington University.

Brooke Scott is our new Graphic Designer. She went to college at the Art Institute of Charleston and graduated with a double major in Graphic and Web design. Prior to working at NASP, she finished her education and was a freelance artist in the Charleston area. She creates new content on the LMS for our safety courses as well as development of our marketing material, including various pamphlets and brochures.

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Worker Dies at OSHA VPP site: Status Taken Away?

Companies that are in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) are supposed to be some of the safest facilities in the nation. So, what happens when there’s a workplace fatality at a VPP site? The question has been raised after a fatality at a Louisiana refinery. A contract worker fell into the 15-foot water basin of the primary cooling tower at the facility. The company is an OSHA VPP participant.

The rules for what happens to VPP sites after on-site fatalities are contained in OSHA’s “Memorandum 7,” which was issued in 2013. The memo says the status of a VPP site must be changed to “Inactive Pending Fatality/Catastrophe Inspection” following a fatality. An Intent to Terminate (ITT) Letter is automatically sent to the VPP site if it’s determined the fatality was work-related, the site is placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), and/or willful violation(s) are issued.

OSHA push to expand VPP

The facility has the option of appealing the ITT. OSHA then decides if the site is removed from VPP. Memo 7 was revised on May 30. OSHA removed references to willful violations and the SVEP. OSHA has said it wants to expand the VPP program – and this is the first time there’s been a fatality at a VPP site since Memo 7 was revised. The agency has six months to issue citations. Then it’ll determine if the site should remain in the program. Interested in becoming a VPP site or simply need a mock OSHA inspection at your facility?  Click here and fill out our on-site training/consulting form to get a quote for this service today.

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Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – Causes and Prevention

Hand arm vibration syndrome is a group of symptoms which accompanies prolong exposure to vibration from the use of hand-held vibrating tools. It is commonly known as HAVS and it affects the fingers, hands and arms – hence the name. The hand arm vibration syndrome is believed to be caused by damage to nerves, muscles and blood vessels in the fingers, hands and arms.

These vibration injuries are divided into three (3) groups depending on the area it affects; it could be neurological, vascular or musculoskeletal. Some of the hand-held vibrating tools which could cause HAVS are: Power drills, Chainsaws, Pneumatic drills, Jumping jack, Jack hammers, Chipping tools, Concrete vibrator, Power jig saw, Sander, Angle grinder, Polisher, Needle gun and scabblers, etc.

According to an expert, Hand arm vibration can take six months to six years to develop, and after the fingers blanch, the condition is irreversible.

 

Key point about hand arm vibration syndrome

  • About 2 million U.S. workers are exposed to hand arm vibration and as many as half will develop HAVS – Says an experts.
  • Hand arm vibration affects various industries including construction, mining and forestry.
  • Preventive measures can help workers limit the development of hand arm vibration syndrome.

 

HAVS group injuries

Neurological injuries: This is caused by neurological damage to the nerve cells in the fingers, hand and arms. This damage is irreversible. The early signs are numbness and tingling; the latter sign is severely reduced hand functionality which could result to dropping things easily. A common example of neurological injury is the Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Muscular injuries: This is caused by damage to the muscle structure. This may result to reduced grip strength.

Vascular injuries: This is caused by its effect on the capillaries in the hand and fingers causing vasospasm. This reduce blood flow to the hand results to numbness and blanching (Whiteness of the hand)

General Symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Loss of sensitivity in those areas
  • Whiteness of fingers
  • Loss of strength to the finger diminishing the grip strength

The hand arm vibration syndrome is irreversible after it is fully developed. The development of vibration injuries is individual specific. It takes few months to years to develop in some individuals, whereas some individuals may get exposed to this risk for so long without developing the syndrome.

Since we may not know the category you belong, our best option is to prevent it.

Prevention of HAVS

Aside from using anti or low vibration tools, Wasserman and colleagues had highlighted safe practices for HAVS prevention:

  1. Keep the hand warm
  2. Refrain from smoking
  3. Grip the tool lightly as possible while in use in order not to increase the vibration coupling.
  4. Ensure good equipment maintenance
  5. Take intermittent breaks when working with hand-held vibration tools.
  6. Use appropriate hand gloves
  7. Seek medical attention if you notice signs of HAVS. Early detection is paramount for full recovery.

Other recommendations are:

  • Train the workers on the hazards of working with hand-held vibration tools and safety measures necessary to control the risks.
  • Keep your hand dry and warm before using the hand-held vibration tools.
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