in the Life
The work pace in
cleanrooms is deliberately slow. Limited movement keeps the air in
cleanrooms as free as possible of dust and other particles, which can
destroy microchips during their production. Because the machinery sets
the operators' rate of work, workers maintain a relaxed pace. Although
workers spend some time alone monitoring equipment, operators and
technicians spend much of their time working in teams.
Technicians are on their
feet most of the day, walking through the cleanroom to oversee
production activities. Operators spend a great deal of time sitting or
standing at workstations, monitoring computer readouts and indicators.
The temperature in the
cleanrooms must be kept within a narrow range and is generally
comfortable for workers. Although bunny suits cover virtually the entire
body, their lightweight fabric keeps the temperature inside fairly
comfortable. Entry and exit of workers from the cleanroom are controlled
to minimize contamination, and workers must be reclothed in a clean
bunny suit and decontaminated each time they return to the cleanroom.
Several highly toxic
chemicals are used at various points in the process of manufacturing
microchips. Workers who are exposed to such chemicals can be seriously
harmed. However, fabrication plants are designed with safeguards to
ensure that these chemicals are handled, used, and disposed of without
exposing workers or the surrounding environment. Toxic chemicals are
applied to wafers by computer-controlled machine tools in sealed
chambers, and there is normally little risk of workers coming into
contact with them.
fabricating plants operate around the clock. Night and weekend work is
common. In some plants, workers maintain standard 8-hour shifts, 5 days
a week. In other plants, employees are on duty for 12-hour shifts to
minimize the disruption of cleanroom operations brought about by
changes. Managers may also allow workers to alternate schedules, thereby
distributing the overnight shift equitably.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.