A twenty dollar bill being pulled up by a fish hookDepending on an objects’ retrievability, certain measures should be taken to ensure FME control. While there are a number of retrieval devices on the market, it is best to encourage a mindset of prevention rather than retrieval.

Much like the seemingly immovable pile of food ground into the carpet after an unattended child gets into mom’s leftover plate, those that rely mistakenly on retrieval methods will find themselves in a tougher than usual cleanup situations. Three days later when the carpet begins to smell, mom will realize that the cleanup job was not as effective as she originally thought. At any point in the process the parent could have prevented the messy mistake by removing the potential for that mistake to happen. In foreign material exclusion each object must be analyzed for its potential retrieval risk, and those items with higher cleanup costs and risks should have measures taken to prevent such a mistake.

It is also important to use, whenever possible, substitutes for items that may be more easily retrieved than their elusive counterparts. Tinted plastics are one example of an item that is more easily retrieved than its counterpart. As talked about in the visibility section, clear and dull colored items can be hard to see and therefore take longer to retrieve. Bright colored, tinted alternatives make retrieval faster.

Retrievability can be determined by:

Object Size

Typically the larger an item, the easier it is to find, but at a certain point, the object becomes too bulky and heavy for easy retrieval.


Color effects visibility and has an effect on retrieval time and cost

Chemical Makeup

Items that hold together and deteriorate slower make for easier cleanup. Magnetic metals make it possible to use magnets for retrieval, depending on whether or not the item is lost in an area sensitive to magnetism.

Tracking Detail

The better an item is tracked, the quicker an item can be found.


A workspace with a lot of nooks and crannies makes it easy to lose objects while a large flat room would make item loss almost impossible. Smooth surfaces also cleanup more easily than porous ones.