The majority of laboratory injuries and work-related infections are caused by human error, deficient laboratory techniques and inadequate use of equipment. There are methods designed to avoid or minimize common problems in labs. One of the equipment needed in any lab is the centrifuge. The centrifuge is the ideal device to separate particles, using spinning force. There are different types of centrifuges, according to their size, angle, rotor or use. However, there are some basic guidelines of microbiological safety to guarantee the appropriate use of the centrifuge.
One of the first steps is to be sure that the mechanical performance is adequate for the intended use. Centrifuges should be operated according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
On the other hand, it should be placed in such a way that workers can see into the bowls. The tubes should be either thick-walled glass or plastic. Both of them should be inspected before use. It is advisable to use crew capped if possible. Buckets must be loaded, equilibrated, sealed and opened in a biological safety cabinet.
It is important to follow manufacturer’s instructions to determine the level of fluid and the rim of the centrifuge tube. When using an angle-head centrifuge, ensure that the tube is nor overloaded, it might leak. Buckets and trunnions should be paired by weight, keeping the balance. In case of empty buckets, use distilled water or alcohol (propanol, 70%) to balance. Never use saline solutions.
Infectious particles can be ejected when using the centrifuge, so the centrifuge may be in an open-fronted Class I or Class II biological safety cabinet. However, Class III safety cabinets prevent aerosol emission. The best centrifuge technique is to use securely capped tubes to protect against infectious aerosols and dispersed particles. Use sealable centrifuge buckets in case of working with microorganisms in Risk Groups 3 and 4.
Inspect the interior of the centrifuge bowl daily, to avoid staining or soiling that might affect the performance of the rotor. Also, rotors and buckets should be inspected daily for signs of corrosion and cracks.
Decontaminate buckets, rotors and centrifuge bowls after use. Store buckets in an inverted position to drain fluid.
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