How the right commercial cleaning provider can help ensure a safe, compliant aerospace facility
Inadequate cleaning of aerospace facilities can have serious consequences:
- In a Vermont aerospace facility, an explosion caused by dust sent three people to the hospital. The building was evacuated, and production came to a grinding halt.
- At an aerospace parts manufacturer in Niles, Ohio, two contractors were sent to the hospital with facial and other burns after an explosion and fire caused by titanium dust.
- One worker was killed and six wounded by an explosion and subsequent fire in an aerospace facility in Taiwan caused by dust containing aluminum alloy.
Sadly, some accidents have been far worse. Yet with the right commercial cleaning services partner with extensive aerospace expertise, they might never have happened.
Dust to Dust
Dust is a significant concern in aerospace manufacturing because of its explosive capabilities and negative impact on product integrity. Even micron-sized dust particles can cause essential parts to malfunction, putting lives and national security at risk. Meanwhile, the grinding, welding, sanding, painting, and other activities conducted in the aerospace industry produce dust that contains harmful ingredients, including chromium, nickel, fiberglass, titanium, and other chemicals. These dusts can have many adverse health effects, including nose, throat, and eye irritation and headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If allowed to build up, these contaminants can cause more severe health threats, including liver and kidney damage, pulmonary congestion, respiratory ailments, and central nervous system damage.
In addition to dust, aerospace manufacturing produces metal debris, greases, and oils and uses inorganic pollutants, such as acids and solvents. Although they may be invisible to the naked eye, these contaminants must be removed from the cleanroom where manufacturing occurs. For example, the slightest contaminant on a part can create friction, generating heat and causing the residue to combust, auto-ignite and/or explode inside oxygen-rich systems, such as those found in space shuttles and other aircraft.
When Disaster Strikes
While commercial cleaning service providers don’t clean aerospace parts, they are responsible for maintaining the strict cleanroom standards essential to keep aerospace manufacturing facilities up and running. Most national defense and other aerospace cleanrooms fall within ISO 7 or 8 classifications, although more sensitive applications, such as the development of microchips or sensors, may demand stricter criteria. Meeting these stringent cleanroom standards requires experience, and never is this expertise more necessary than after a disaster. Fire, smoke, flood, earthquake, employee sabotage, power outage, chemical spill, or any similar event requires starting from scratch to bring the cleanroom back to meet the required cleanliness levels. Cleanroom recovery is unique compared with other disaster recovery projects. Each step must be performed precisely in sequential order so one procedure doesn’t nullify the next. This requires technicians with experience in cleanroom disaster recovery.
Among the highest levels of purity required in aerospace are those for aircraft manufactured to land on other celestial bodies. Pathogens introduced in these circumstances would jeopardize the search for extraterrestrial life and the collection of fauna and flora, putting them in violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Since the treaty originated between the United States and Russia, 110 nations have signed it, while an additional 89 are awaiting ratification. While missions to other planets are rare, existing cleanrooms are converted to this purity level when necessary, a complex task that requires best-in-class cleanroom cleaning expertise.
Creating a Safe Space
Below are some other safety mishaps that can shut down production and even lead to expensive lawsuits that can be avoided by partnering with an experienced aerospace cleaning provider.
On the right path. In most aerospace facilities, the aisles are narrow to accommodate moving large parts. For this reason, most pathways are one-way. Inexperienced cleaning personnel can cause serious accidents by leaving carts and other equipment in the aisles since forklift drivers can’t always see over the large parts they are transporting.
Tailgating (not the fun kind). Unauthorized personnel sneaking in behind authorized but unaware persons with security clearance is known as tailgating. Unfortunately, it is more common than most people realize. This is especially dangerous in high-security aerospace facilities where secrets of defense and national security are known to reside. Thoroughly vetted and trained cleaning technicians and supervisors are aware and alert against tailgating and other possible criminal security breaches. They understand that no unauthorized personnel can enter secured areas under any circumstances and are trained to take immediate action should they witness suspicious activity.
Pictures not worth 1,000 words. Another element of high security is the complete ban on photography in secure aerospace settings. An inexperienced technician taking a selfie could shut down production until a thorough, potentially lengthy investigation is completed, costing the facility dearly.
Hands off. With national security and other sensitive information, a data breach could have devastating consequences. In addition to passing thorough background checks and other security clearance hurdles, aerospace cleaning personnel must be thoroughly trained to know what to—and what not to—clean or touch under any circumstances, such as desks and computers, or other equipment that, if mishandled, could result in the loss of sensitive files and even whole databases.
The fallout of falling. Scientists and others with specific aerospace manufacturing expertise can be hard to replace, so having one slip on something seemingly simple as a paper towel on a restroom floor can mean costly and lengthy downtime. Experienced cleaning supervisors and technicians understand the need to be especially careful to prevent slips, trips, and falls. They also are well-versed in the particulars of aerospace floorcare—from why concrete is forbidden in most aerospace manufacturing facilities and the proper application of epoxy floor coatings to matting that resists curling and being kicked up by industrial boots.
Partnering with a best-in-class commercial cleaning services provider with lengthy aerospace experience and a stellar safety record can mean the difference between being grounded and flying high.
An Experienced Aerospace Commercial Cleaning Services Provider Near Me
If you are looking for an aerospace commercial cleaning services provider with more than 50 years of industry experience and a stellar safety record and still need to become a Servicon client, we encourage you to contact us today.