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Glass touch keyboards: 3 reasons why they are best suited for clean rooms

Posted on: feb 12, 2024 | Author: Martina Vaggi

Inside clean rooms, every IT instrument (such as keyboards) must be hygienic and thoroughly sterilised, otherwise the damage you will cause to patients' health or production will be very serious. But not all keyboards are suitable to be placed in a clean room: there are some that you absolutely must avoid and others that are the most suitable.

Glass touch keyboards: 3 reasons why they are best suited for clean rooms

Are you an IT manager or do you work as an operator in a cleanroom?

If your job is in a contamination-controlled environment such as a clean room (or cleanroom), you will know very well what high standards of hygiene and sterilisation are required in these places.

Every instrument, object or person that enters a cleanroom must be sterilised and sanitised from top to bottom: no material must release particles, so as to guarantee completely sterile production.

The risks - in the event of contamination in a pharmaceutical industry clean room environment - can be disastrous, both for the health safety of patients and for economic safety.

For these reasons, personnel entering a cleanroom must necessarily be trained and wear sterilised or disposable clothing to ensure completely sterile production.

Not only that!

If you want to avoid any kind of contamination, you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT introduce plastic keyboards inside a cleanroom.
Otherwise you really do risk causing permanent damage to your patients' health, but also bring entire production lines to a standstill.

What is a clean room or cleanroom?

Before explaining to you specifically, step by step, why the use of plastic keyboards can cause enormous damage when placed in a cleanroom, let's take a step back.

A few brief hints about clean rooms: what is a cleanroom and what standards are applied in relation to hygiene and sterilisation?

A clean room (also called 'cleanroom') is a work area in the pharmaceutical, food and chemical sectors, where the need is to have environments where the presence of bacteria and air pollutants is zero.

Clean rooms are controlled atmosphere chambers with a level of environmental sterilisation far superior to operating theatres (10,000 to 50,000 times higher).

The clean room must provide a working environment that ...

  • limits the presence of particles;
  • allows pure air to circulate;
  • prevents microorganisms and dust from contaminating it.

And all this can only be achieved through a special air treatment and filtration system.

In a cleanroom, it is very important to ensure optimal conditions both in terms of hygiene (the areas must be clean, sterile, easy to sanitise) and in terms of the use of suitable (i.e. hygienic) IT equipment.

Keyboards, PCs and all devices used must be easily sanitised and disinfected with specific detergents and disinfectants.

Glass keypads

This makes it possible to avoid contamination that could compromise the quality of the final product.

Indeed, the slightest contamination with microscopically small particles - which cannot be seen with the naked eye - can have a negative impact on the quality of the product and its operation.

What are the contamination risks of a pharmaceutical cleanroom?

Controlling contamination risks in a cleanroom environment means doing whatever is necessary to ensure that production processes and the product are protected against any microbiological, particle or chemical contamination.

What are the risks of possible contamination?

The impacts of a contamination can be truly disastrous, both in terms of health safety (risks to humans and animals, up to and including death) and economic safety (such as production line stoppages and the destruction of entire batches).

What is meant by 'contamination'?

  • the execution of a process is impaired or prevented (such as care, production or assembly);
  • the environment has been degraded.

Contamination in pharmaceutical industry cleanrooms can be of two types: microbiological (or from biocontamination) or molecular.

We are not going to explain them specifically here: we just want to point out that the microorganisms referred to for this type of contamination include: bacteria, microscopic fungi, viruses or algae.

Human health is at stake here, it's not just a question of aesthetics.
Plastic keyboards are not just ugly to look at in a sanitary environment... they are downright dirty, anti-hygienic and unsanitised.

This means that introducing them into a sterilised environment such as a cleanroom means soiling it, infecting it, making it anti-hygienic (which is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing!).

And if bacteria or microparticles proliferate in a cleanroom, you put people's health at risk (especially, when it comes to biocontamination: specifically, contamination of injectables or medical device implants).

Plastic keyboards help the proliferation of bacteria, which, upon their death, can release endotoxins.

Keep in mind that endotoxin is a toxic compound that develops inside pathogens such as bacteria and is one of the most important cleanroom concerns in pharmaceutical industries.

Endotoxins can be very numerous depending on the level of bacterial load at that stage prior to sterilisation of products and are enemy number 1 for immunocompromised patients or very young or elderly patients.

And we say this to you, calling you 'you' even if we don't know you, because we take it for granted that if you have read this far, this means that you work in a cleanroom environment, you care about doing a great job and you want all hygiene or sterilisation regulations to be 100% adhered to.

So, choosing hygienic and perfectly suitable equipment for a cleanroom environment is part of your job.

And we have a duty to make you aware of what consequences you are causing - in terms of health damage - by insisting on introducing plastic keyboards into the cleanroom in which you work.And we are talking to you because knowing which computer devices are best suited to be placed in a cleanroom is your responsibility.

Which instruments and devices must be placed in the cleanroom

As you already know, the devices you can find inside a clean room are:

  1. medical PCs
  2. trolleys
  3. monitors
  4. keyboards and mice

And you will also know that any equipment inside clean rooms must be

  • completely hygienic
  • completely antibacterial and resistant to contamination by dust and micro-organisms
  • easy to clean, sanitise and sterilise.

And it is precisely on the hygienic factor that we must dwell: because it is one of the pivotal points around which cleanroom operation revolves.

How should clean rooms be sanitised?

Clean rooms must be disinfected using a specific procedure.

  1. The use of specific disinfectants, packaged in a sterile environment and then validated for use.
  2. Sterilisation and sanitisation takes place either by direct contact with surfaces or by atomisation.

The procedure for cleaning a cleanroom is as follows: first from above (from the ceiling), then with vertical movements, downwards, on the walls, instruments and surfaces. Last, the floors.

We dwell on these procedures to explain that, since all devices and instruments in clean rooms must be sanitised from top to bottom, with a periodic rotation, it is obvious that you CANNOT bring computer devices such as classic plastic keyboards and mice into these areas, which cannot be sanitised.

This is why plastic keyboards are not suitable for use in clean rooms

Perhaps you are not yet aware of the fact that on the classic computer keyboards that you consider so innocent and that you touch and use every day, there lurks a den of potential germs and bacteria, capable of contaminating you and the environment in which you work, which should be sterilised in every device that enters and leaves the lab.

Computer equipment - such as keyboards and mice - harbour a bacterial concentration that is 70 times higher than on toilet seats.

Don't believe it?

Have you ever tried to take a closer look at the plastic keyboards you are using?

Glass keyboards

Do you see the space between the keys and that nice dirt nestling in them?

As you can see, we are a long way from what can be called 'sterilisation'.

But we want to be even more specific and give you all the reasons, point by point, as to why plastic keyboards are completely unsuitable for inclusion in a cleanroom:

1) They are not hygienic: they have gaps between the keys that let dirt, germs and bacteria in. See the dirt on the inside of the keys? If you use a plastic keyboard in a clean room, the result is that you carry that dirt from inside the keys to contaminate the surrounding environment, which should be free of air-polluting bacteria.

2) They are not washable: plastic keyboards are not waterproof, they have no membrane to protect them. Consequently, you cannot think of putting them in a pharmaceutical or food environment, where you are in contact with water and liquids: because if you try to wash such a keyboard, water will penetrate inside the keys and ruin it, making it - in the long run - unusable.

3) They are not sanitised: you cannot use a cleaning liquid to clean a plastic keyboard. This is because if the liquid gets inside the keys, it risks ruining the keyboard. The only way to sanitise a plastic keyboard is as follows: you should remove all the keys of the keyboard, pulling them off one by one and cleaning underneath to remove all the dirt.

Glass keyboards

Operation literally impossible.

How to keep a keyboard sanitised: the cellophane problem

Using a plastic keypad in a sterilisable environment such as a clean room (in which this type of keypad is completely unsuitable), as we have already told you, is tantamount to exposing the entire environment to the risk of bacterial contamination.

Operators who work inside clean rooms and are aware of this problem decide to take precautions.

For most of them, the solution is this: wrap their keyboards in cellophane and use them this way.
In this way they think they are protecting them from liquids, dust and external agents.
They do not realise that by doing so, they do more damage than before.

1) First of all, cellophane cannot protect the keyboard from water infiltration. In fact, the tape is not hermetic and cannot guarantee any degree of protection, in which case, it is normal for water or external agents to seep in, affecting the sterilisation that the IT instrument should maintain;

2) Secondly, operators waste an enormous amount of time wrapping the keyboard every day with cellophane in an attempt to make it waterproof and totally dust-, splash- or germ-proof. Imagine having to wrap your keyboard every time you start work, clean it at the end of your shift and re-wrap it in cellophane every day.
As you can see, using cellophane on your plastic keyboard may NOT be the solution...

That is why there are keyboards suitable for cleanroom environments, which have specific characteristics and are best suited for their principles of: sterilisation, complete hygiene and sanitisation.

Silicone keypads: why they are suitable for clean rooms

Silicone keyboards are a viable alternative to plastic keyboards that you have to cover every day with cellophane.

This is because...

  • they are highly hygienic keyboards: dirt-, bacteria-, germ- and dust-proof. As there is no space between the keys, water, dust and bacteria cannot infiltrate; this way, your keyboard remains clean and hygienic at all times.

Glass keypads

  • They are waterproof keyboards: completely proof against water, immersion, dust, germs and bacteria.
    They have IP65, IP67 and IP68 protection ratings: dustproof and also protected against permanent immersion.

  • They are easily sanitised: you can sanitise the keyboard with any detergent or water and it will be perfectly hygienic, sterilised and clean in no time.

Silicone keypads are definitely good for pharmaceutical industry clean rooms.

An alternative to silicone keypads gives us a new technology that is becoming increasingly popular and guarantees even more effective and thorough sanitisation.

Glass touch keyboards: why they are best for clean rooms

Glass keyboards

Glass touch keyboards are perfectly suited for pharmaceutical and medical industrial environments because they have certain characteristics.

1) They are touch keyboards, i.e. with touch technology and a tempered glass surface, which makes them totally hygienic. Since there are no gaps between the keys, dirt, germs and bacteria cannot infiltrate the keyboard. For this reason, it is completely hygienic. You can use it in peace and quiet in your production environment, without running the risk of contaminating your surroundings after touching it (as would happen after using a completely dirty plastic keyboard).
They are completely protected from the ingress of: dust, dirt and water. In this way they protect the cleanroom environment from the spread of micro-particles. They have a tempered glass surface and an anti-bacterial steel or plastic construction, making it possible to use them even with protective gloves.

2) These keyboards can be easily sanitised: equipped with a key that locks the entire surface, with a simple wipe of a cloth and water or cleaning liquid, your keyboard will be completely clean, sanitised and sterilised in seconds.
All this without having to remove it from the workstation.

3) They are completely waterproof and, therefore, washable.
Equipped with IP65 and IP67 degrees of protection, they are splash-proof: water or cleaning liquids cannot do any damage or compromise these keyboards in any way. What's more, even the keys are moulded underneath the glass covering the keyboard surface: this way, you won't risk ruining or fading them every time you have to sanitise it.

Thanks to this technology, cleaning the keyboard is extremely fast and your operator can continue with his usual tasks.

Discover our catalogue of glass keyboards

Glass touch keypads: sanitisation-proof

As you can imagine, the fact that these glass keypads are totally waterproof makes them perfect for use in cleanrooms.

This is because inside the cleanrooms all instrumentation and all inserted devices are sanitised on a weekly rotation, with specific sanitisers and sterile cloths.

The sanitisation of the cleanrooms can take place by spraying with specific machines or by direct application of the surfaces.

You can also wear them with latex or nitrile gloves

Since the cleanroom structure and furnishings must also be suitable to ensure maximum cleanliness, the operators working inside the cleanroom must also wear suitable uniforms, caps and footwear.

Glass keyboard

These glass keyboards can be used while wearing latex or nitrile gloves, which is very important for clean rooms, as these are environments where operators must be protected by completely sterile clothing (coveralls, masks, shoe covers and gloves).

In this way, you can use the keyboards with gloves on without fear of soiling them: just sanitise them immediately afterwards.

Check out our glass keyboards

Why you should rely on Industrial Keyboards to buy glass keyboards 

Tastiere Industriali decades of experience allows us to best advise you on the most suitable keyboard model for your industry.

By relying on Tastiere Industriali you get the following benefits

1) A free and timely pre-analysis: if you send your request today, you will immediately be contacted by one of our experts for a free consultation. One of our technicians will examine your request, directing you towards an informed choice of the most suitable keyboard for your sector;

2) pre- and after-sales support: in case of any problems, one of our technicians will assist you in a timely manner;

3) a large stock of industrial keyboards to choose from: all our keyboards have IP65 and IP67 degrees of protection, jet-proof, dust-proof and fully submersible;

4) Our keyboards are fully protected against the ingress of: dust, dirt and water. In this way, they protect the cleanroom environment from the spread of micro-particles. They have a tempered glass surface and can also be used with cleanroom gloves;

5) product customisation: our keypads can be customised in layout and model, in black or white.

Request a free consultation

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