Environmental Health and Safety

Centrifuge Safety

Centrifuges can create aerosols and this must be considered with each use. The necessary precautions taken will depend upon what is being used. If hazardous materials such as carcinogens, highly toxic, or infectious agents will be placed in a centrifuge, then precautions must be taken to prevent an exposure of lab personnel to aerosols or liquids.

Types

  • Microcentrifuges: ~15,000 rpm
  • Low/High speed: 2,000 – 20,000 rpm
  • Ultracentrifuges: ~120,000 rpm

Hazards

  • Mechanical failure of the machine
  • Lab equipment failure (tubes, etc.)
  • Aerosol generation
  • Operator Error

Operating Procedures

  • Check tubes for cracks/chips.
  • Use matched sets of tubes, buckets, etc.
  • Tightly seal all tubes and safety cups.
  • Ensure that rotor is locked to spindle and bucket seated.
  • Close lid during operation.
  • Allow to come to complete stop before opening.

Safe Operation

  • Use safety cups whenever possible.
  • Disinfect weekly and after all spills or breakages.
  • Lubricate O-rings and rotor threads weekly.
  • Do not operate the centrifuge without the rotor properly balanced.
  • Do not use rotors that have been dropped.
  • Contact your centrifuge rep for specific information.
  • If you suspect leakage occurred from the centrifuge, leave the area, do not open the centrifuge for at least 30 minutes to allow aerosols to settle, then access situation while wearing appropriate PPE and taking necessary precautions. Contact EHS at 512/471-3511 as necessary for assistance.

Reference

CDC BioSafety Training Course