Big Blue Blog - Product Inspection and Conformance Checks

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The physical integrity of fabric items is a critical aspect of contamination control.

Damaged mops, wipes or equipment covers can shed large numbers of particles and fibres and damaged cleanroom clothing may also allow the escape of particulate from the wearer.


The ESD (electro-static discharge) properties may also deteriorate and this can cause damage to products by static discharge.


For all decontaminated items it is therefore necessary to have clear and comprehensive inspection and test procedures to ensure that all products are suitable for purpose.


Visual inspection is carried out to detect physical damage such as holes or tears. Checks are also required on fixtures and fittings such as zips, studs and tapes, the sole material of boots and shoes must be checked for damage or cracks.


For laundered and re-used items, such as cleanroom clothing, the fabric must be inspected to check that it has not deteriorated significantly and remains in an effective and acceptable condition. 

Inspection of garments for physical damage

 

When ESD control is a key requirement then standard electrical conductivity tests [ref 1] are required to confirm that fabric and garment conductivity are still functioning at the required level.

ESD garment test

 

Fabric wear is influenced by many factors including the type of manufacturing operation in which it is used, the number of decontamination processes received and any sterilisation cycles. 


This variability means that as well as a visual inspection it is often necessary to validate an acceptable garment life for a particular process and to remove the item at the pre-determined maximum number of wear and process cycles regardless of its physical appearance.


If an item fails to achieve the minimum standard set by the various conformance procedures it must be removed from cleanroom use and either repaired or replaced.

 

References

[Ref 1] BS EN 1149-1:2006 Protective clothing. Electrostatic properties. Test method for measurement of surface resistivity.