University Safety and Assurances

Autoclave Safety Autoclave PPE

No one should use an autoclave unless they have received recent instruction in autoclave procedure or are working under the direct supervision of an experienced autoclave worker.

Accidents are most likely to occur during the final operations of opening and unloading the autoclave, if they are to happen. When the pressure gauge reaches zero, wait one or two minutes before opening the autoclave. It is dangerous to begin opening the autoclave before the pressure gauge reaches zero. Long-sleeved, heat-resistant gloves should be worn- do not use if wet or have holes in them. Other protective equipment that should be worn to prevent being splashed by hot liquids are rubber apron and safety goggles, glasses, or faceshield.

Steam (Sterilizing) Autoclaves

The major hazards are:

  1. Burns resulting from physical contact with the structure of the autoclave.
  2. Steam burns arising from contact with steam issuing from the apparatus.
  3. Explosive breakage of glass vessels during opening and unloading.
  4. Burns arising from careless handling of vessels containing boiling liquids.

Top-Loading Autoclaves

Beware of residual steam in the apparatus. Remove the lid cautiously keeping the body as far away from the apparatus as possible. Do not lean over the autoclave to examine the contents.

Front-Loading Autoclaves

  • It is wise to stand so that as the door is opened it shields your body from the contents of the autoclave.
  • Open the door slowly to allow steam to escape.
  • Watch your feet! Sometimes boiling liquid accumulates in the autoclave and runs out as the door opens. Wear rubber boots.
  • Remember glassware may have cracked during autoclaving.
Opening Autoclave

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