General Conduct and Safety in the Cleanroom: Converting Short-Term Memory into Long-Term

certification_1Cleanroom safety training is extensive, and rightfully so. Even the smallest of mistakes can compromise production. Materials and progress may have to be completely scrapped to start over from scratch. Therefore, remembering all the rules, even the simplest ones, is paramount.

While long-term memory can hold an indefinite amount of information, short-term memory can handle about 7 – plus or minus 2 – pieces of information at a time. Those pieces of information can be separated or chunked. For example, when remembering a10-digit phone number, the area code is often one chunk of information because it is already memorized and recognized.

In a cleanroom, there are many more than 7 pieces of information to remember, so the material needs to convert to long-term memory. Once there, the knowledge will be automatic. For example, when learning to drive, a person has to consciously proceed step-by-step when stopping, accelerating, turning, etc. With enough practice, a person doesn’t need to think about the steps to operating a vehicle in order drive successfully. Cleanroom workers need all of their safety steps to be automatic.

The most basic way to convert short-term memory into long-term is repetition. Whether mental repetition or physical rehearsal, the more frequently information is reintroduced, the longer it will stay in the short-term memory, and eventually it will become automatic.

Here are some general guidelines to conduct and safety in cleanrooms to study. Add to the list as needed. Chunk related information together so that rather than remembering multiple things, it feels like one. As you or your employees practice repetition with these, remember to skip over or omit the items that have converted to long-term memory. As the list grows shorter, it will seem less overwhelming.

  • Always wear proper cleanroom attire and your cleanroom badge
  • Don’t run – just walk at a normal pace
  • Do not shake your hands
  • Do not scratch your face
  • Do not enter the cleanroom if sick
  • Don’t spray chemicals near wafers
  • Wafers should be in boxes with the owner and date labeled, and the process flow
  • Be careful with the nitrogen guns – be aware nearby items
  • Always put a chemical label on your dish, and if you no longer need your chemical dish, don’t leave it sitting out
  • Computers need to be shared. Only use them when you need to, and don’t close out other people’s programs or windows
  • Always clean up your messes
  • No food or water allowed in the cleanroom
  • Normal paper, pencils, and pens are prohibited in the clean room
  • Don’t block fire extinguishers
  • Be aware of gas detection lights
  • When the IPA or acetone runs out, fill all bottles, not just the one you’re using
  • Properly clean everything you use, including dishes, spinners, and other machines.
  • If a machine you’re done using does not need to be kept on, turn it off to conserve energy

When people take tests, they can memorize facts long enough to pass, but information can fade quickly thereafter. When first learning to work in a cleanroom, job tasks, guidelines, and rules should not just be memorized, but actually rehearsed to help glue the information into long-term memory. As mentioned in the “Improve Retention in Cleanroom Operator Training” post, a great way to learn information is to teach it. Tasking employees with creating presentations, videos, or training seminars to teach each other is a very useful way to convert important information into long-term memory.

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