Workplace Safety Guides

   Equipment and Tools


When you work around lab equipment, you must know the proper procedures relating to that equipment.

You must operate centrifuges only with the covers closed and properly latched. Always place a cap or paraffin seal on a specimen tube before placing it into the centrifuge. This prevents specimens from being sprayed around. The centrifuge is one example of why long hair must be kept back, and why dangling jewelry or ties must not be worn in the lab.

The autoclave presents several potential dangers. Before you open the autoclave, check to ensure the temperature and pressure are normal, and the intake steam valve is off. To avoid boil-overs and explosions, loosen the caps of containers as you place them in the autoclave. Don't forget the autoclave tape.

When placing items into the autoclave or when removing them, wear the proper protective gear: an apron, face shield, and heat-retardant gloves. Sudden exposure to room temperature air could cause glassware to break or explode. The gloves give you protection against burns. Not only might the material being autoclaved be dangerously hot, the autoclave itself could be hot enough to give you a serious burn. Take extra precautions with the steam emitted from the autoclave. It can permeate through gloves after a very short time.

Do not overload the autoclave. If you do, some of the material may not reach temperatures hot enough to sterilize. To be certain the correct temperature has been reached and materials are sterilized, check the autoclave tape when removing items.

Although the pipette is the simplest piece of equipment in a lab, the problems it can cause are no simple matter. Many labs have automatic measuring devices that pipette, but if you do not have access to one, use a suction bulb. Always wash the pipette after use. Wash the bulb if you draw fluid into it. Mouth pipetting of specimens is extremely dangerous, and is absolutely prohibited.

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