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16.9 Centrifuges

Some general safety guidelines to follow when using centrifuges:

  • Be familiar with the operating procedures written by the manufacturer. Keep the operating manual near the unit for easy reference. If necessary contact the manufacturer to replace lost manuals. 
  • Handle, load, clean, and inspect rotors as recommended by the manufacturer. 
  • Pay careful attention to instructions on balancing samples -- tolerances for balancing are often very restricted. Check the condition of tubes and bottles. Make sure you have secured the lid to the rotor and the rotor to the centrifuge. 
  • Maintain a logbook of rotor use for each rotor, recording the speed and length of time for each use. 
  • To avoid catastrophic rotor failure, many types of rotors must be "de-rated" (limited to a maximum rotation speed that is less than the maximum rotation speed specified for the rotor when it is new) after a specified amount of use, and eventually taken out of service and discarded. 
  • Use only the types of rotors that are specifically approved for use in a given centrifuge unit. 
  • Maintain the centrifuge in good condition. Broken door latches and other problems should be repaired before using the centrifuge. 
  • Whenever centrifuging biohazardous materials, always load and unload the centrifuge rotor in a Biosafety cabinet.