Generally, apparel for sterile environments and cleanrooms is designed purely to minimize the particulate contamination of the surrounding environment.
Image Credit: Ansell
For that reason, cleanroom personnel who are working with glassware or sharp equipment are at a higher risk of personal injury because of the lack of physical protection supplied by standard cleanroom gloves.
Workers and engineers servicing equipment in cleanrooms must also wear cleanroom-approved apparel, which can stop them from properly protecting their hands from cut hazards. This article highlights cut hazards in cleanroom and controlled environments, and ways to minimize them by using sterile cut-resistant liners.
The function of a cleanroom is to keep the level of particulates to a minimum.1 The personnel working in cleanrooms each represent a large source of particulate contamination.2
In order to minimize these effects, specialized cleanroom clothing has been developed. Typical cleanroom attire includes overboots, an ultra-clean coverall with hood, and an inner and outer layer of gloves.
These garments are designed with specific regard to properties such as particle generation, particle filtration, and resistance to wear, as they are employed to stop any contamination of the cleanroom during normal operation.3
Yet, cleanroom clothing and gloves usually provide little in the way of cut protection for personnel handling glassware and other sharp apparatus which can easily pierce the thin material, as a result of these stringent requirements.
Cleanroom cut hazards
While adhering carefully to best procedures can reduce the risk of cleanroom injuries (for example, inserting a bung into a glass test tube safely), it is impossible to eliminate this risk entirely.
Conducted in 2013, the first international survey of researchers’ workplace attitudes and practices, showed that lab workers routinely overestimate their workplace safety: close to half had been injured in the lab, yet 86% of respondents said their labs were safe places to work.4
The most common injuries were lacerations, cuts, and needle pricks. For instance, in the fields of pharmaceutical manufacturing and biotechnology, cleanroom personnel are routinely required to clean glassware and sharps, load and unload process equipment, and perform cleanroom preparation.
All of these tasks introduce a cut hazard. It is not just equipment with existing sharp edges and needles which pose a risk: any breakable equipment, particularly glassware, has the potential to cause injury. In the medical device industry, when wearing only cleanroom gloves, the assembly of devices containing sharp components is similarly unsafe.
Again, these risks are not always obvious: while devices and tools like curettes and scalpels are sharp by design, other components like sharp glass edges and small wires present a more insidious risk of injury to lab workers.
In the microelectronics industry, a number of potentially dangerous procedures are performed in a cleanroom environment, these include wafer etch chemical processing, the cleaning of production stamps, and FAB equipment maintenance and cleaning.
Almost every production job in the industry involves the utilization of hazardous chemicals for stripping, cleaning, or degreasing parts and equipment.
Cuts have a heightened risk of contamination with dangerous substances such as alkalis, acids, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and solvents in environments like these, which pose a risk to the entire body.5 The lack of cut protection is also challenging for the engineers who are responsible for cleaning and maintaining equipment within cleanrooms.
As the machines utilized in cleanrooms are often constructed within the cleanroom and are not designed to be removed, upkeep of these machines must be performed by personnel wearing clothing which is cleanroom compatible.
A cleanroom environment is no place for ordinary protective gloves, and when working with machinery, standard cleanroom gloves do not supply enough cut protection. Therefore, it is vital that clothing worn within cleanrooms can give adequate protection to personnel working with cut risks while also meeting the levels of cleanliness required.
Cut-resistant glove liners for cleanroom environments
Ansell has developed BioCleanTM S-BCRL glove liners to protect cleanroom personnel against cut hazards. These are sterile cut-resistant liners which are designed to be worn between two standard cleanroom gloves.6
Image Credit: Ansell
They are woven with Dyneema® Diamond yarn and provide EN 338 and ANSI A2 cut protection for researchers and operators working with equipment or apparatus which poses a moderate cut risk, whilst maintaining aseptic protocol in a controlled environment.
To prevent any latex allergies, plus the chance of contamination that arises from powder, the glove liners are both latex- and powder-free. This is a huge advantage over other cut resistant liners which frequently are not up to cleanroom standards and are packaged in paper, which is itself high in particles.
For convenience and cleanliness,BioCleanTMS-BCRL gloves are packaged in individual EasyTear polyethylene wallets. By blending an ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene with spandex, the BioCleanTM S-BCRL gloves are comfortable and lightweight, whilst still giving the same cut resistance as the other, thicker, less comfortable types.
Consider BioClean cut resistant liners if you work in an aseptic cleanroom or controlled environment, and are regularly facing cutting and laceration risks.
References and further reading
- Ohring, M.&Kasprzak, L. Reliability and failure of electronic materials and devices. Reliability and Failure of Electronic Materials and Devices (Elsevier Inc., 2014). doi:10.1142/9789812702876_0011
- Hu, S. C. & Shiue, A. Validation and application of the personnel factor for the garment used in cleanrooms. Data Br. 6, 750–757 (2016).
- Reinmüller, B. &Ljungqvist, B. Modern cleanroom clothing systems: People as a contamination source. PDA J. Pharm. Sci. Technol. 57, 114–125 (2003).
- Van Noorden, R. Safety survey reveals lab risks. Nature 493, 9–10 (2013).
- Safety & health guide for the microelectronics industry - Google Books. Available at: https://books.google.fr/books?id=PpwYRCHgG6EC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=cut+hazard+microelectronics&source=bl&ots=l2L7xtiExP&sig=ACfU3U1rhCkU-q2QEzhbg6NNS1T2mrRcag&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjC-4_R96PoAhUqz4UKHZvPARkQ6AEwAXoECA0QAQ#v=onepage&q=cut hazard microelectronics&f=false. (Accessed: 18th March 2020)
- BioClean Cut Resistant Liner S-BCRL. Available at: https://www.ansell.com/gb/en/products/bioclean-cut-resistant-liner-s-bcrl. (Accessed: 18th March 2020)
For over a century, Ansell has delivered the most advanced protection solutions to millions of people…at work, at home and in harm’s way.
In 1905, Eric Ansell recognized an opportunity when his employer was looking to dispose of some manufacturing equipment. With this discarded machinery, he founded what was to become the Ansell Rubber Company, initially a balloon & condom company that eventually expanded into surgical, household and work gloves.
In the years since, millions of people have come to rely on Ansell’s innovative products and safety solutions to protect them at home or on the job. The same dedication to quality and innovation that started with Eric Ansell, continues today, as Ansell has grown to serve 25 global industries in 120 countries in ways that shape and protect our modern world.
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Magnus Nicolin, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer
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