A thorough onboarding and training process is crucial for the success of any employee. However, new staff working in cleanroom environments need to adhere to best practices the moment they step into the facility.
Think about the Hubble Telescope. Staff working with this incredibly detailed piece of technology pass through multiple lobbies, or vestibules, to remove loose contaminants from their shoes, hair and clothing before entering a sanitary locker room where they change into suits specially created to be worn in the High Bay Clean Room in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Just one speck of dust or a fingerprint could damage the sensitive telescope components and instruments.
Before You Start Training
Prior to educating new employees on the workflow and processes, give the current system a through audit. Physically walk through the facility and make sure that each step is clearly documented in your new employee handbook and that all pertinent signage is in good condition and visible.
This is also the perfect time to test each piece of equipment to ensure all systems are functioning at full capacity. This includes all machinery in the cleanroom, as well as ventilation systems and air blowers that are operated in a nearby control room. Don’t forget to run tests on emergency equipment and communications systems.
After completing a thorough audit, review the list of people attending the training. In addition to new employees, it might be time for upper management, maintenance workers or people from other departments to review their cleanroom skills.
Developing a Training Plan
Everyone absorbs information in different ways. When training a group on the intricacies and importance of keeping the cleanroom as sterile as possible, offer them several ways to learn.
Consider implementing these tools:
- A video series that shows the processes and highlights key points to remember: Include videos that highlight common mistakes and how to correct them in addition to general instruction.
- A text manual available both as a hard copy and online to review frequently: This should highlight every step of the cleanroom process, from entering and working in the space, to exiting and closing down the area at the end of a shift. Include samples of signage and photos in the manual to make it easier to understand.
- Hands-on training to walk each employee through the process with a certified, knowledgeable guide: As you do this, ask the new employees to do actual tasks so they can learn by being directly involved.
- Visual guides near the cleanroom space: Post colorful, easy to read graphics and checklists at the entrance to the cleanroom to remind employees of best practices.
After gathering training supplies, determine how you’re going to evaluate and test employees throughout the training process.
The act of asking participants to recall information in small chunks with frequency, such as during multiple small quizzes, has proven to be an effective learning method. Retrieving data over and over again ensures that it’s top-of-mind when you need to utilize it once again.
What to Include in the Curriculum (General Overview)
The training materials should be presented from a newcomer’s perspective. Start by explaining the reasons the cleanroom space is necessary and how it benefits the business overall. In this section explain the:
- Location(s) of the cleanroom(s) in the facility.
- Expectations of employees.
- What current and ongoing training look like.
- Current best practices.
Then segue into the specific purpose and uses for the cleanroom at the facility where the employee will work. Be sure to address:
- What work is completed in the cleanroom.
- Why the cleanroom is necessary.
- Where in the workflow the cleanroom will be used.
- How the specific tools and machines in the cleanroom operate.
Also explain how to properly enter and exit the cleanroom. Topics to cover include:
- Work dress code
- Special provisions regarding hair, shoes, and jewelry
- How to decontaminate yourself and enter the cleanroom
- What protective clothing and gear will be worn and how to put it on
- What steps are required when exiting the room
Finally, wrap up with a comprehensive discussion of current laws and procedures to stay within compliance. In this section address what to do if a mistake is made and how to correct the action. If necessary, refer the employee to a separate disaster preparedness manual that outlines multiple possible scenarios and how to respond.
Bringing new staff onboard or training current employees to work within a cleanroom environment takes time and patience. When you’re ready to implement a training program, Clean Room World can help. We offer a variety of training DVDs that make it simple to educate your staff about cleanroom behaviors, addressing contaminants, working with equipment and gowning for entrance into a cleanroom. Please contact us with any questions you have about training or supplying your cleanroom.