Centrifuges are an important piece of lab equipment. However, there are many safety issues associated with using them, mostly related to mechanical conditions and the centrifugation of hazardous samples. Here are some things that centrifuge users should watch out for:
- Mechanical stress: if the stress that the centrifugal force puts on the rotor is greater than it can bear, the rotor will deteriorate, leading to dangerous consequences. To minimize stress, make sure that the loads are evenly balanced, and adhere to the G-force and spin times for each fluid, tube type, and procedure prescribed by the manufacturer.
- Metal rotor fatigue: high g-forces in a centrifuge can also cause rotor fatigue. Maintain a rotor log to ensure that rotor use does not extend beyond the expiration date.
- Corrosion: the rotors can corrode, weakening the metal and reducing its ability to bear the stress of the centrifugal force. So make sure to check the rotors, buckets and tube sleeves every six months for corrosion and fatigue.
- Test tubes: Keep the tubes clean. Use only quality test tubes as inferior varieties cannot withstand high G-forces and can break and spill the contents. Improper speed settings can also cause tube breakage.
- Operating safety: Never open the door when the rotor is spinning or move the centrifuge when it is working. Do not try to stop the rotor by hand. Luckily advanced centrifuge models are designed to stay shut when the rotor is moving.
Be careful when handling hazardous substances. In the event of spillage, follow the necessary safety practices to ensure safety of lab personnel and environment.
Purchase high quality centrifuges from a reliable lab equipment store. Consider a service contract with your lab equipment supplier. This will ensure timely inspections and maintenance to meet manufacturer specifications.