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Centrifuging presents the possibility of two serious hazards: mechanical failure and aerosols. The most common hazard associated with centrifuging is a broken tube. To ensure safety when operating a centrifuge, take precautions to ensure the following:

  • Verify proper loading (accurate balancing)
  • Safe operating speeds (do not exceed manufacturer recommendations)
  • Safe stopping
  • Complete removal of materials
  • Proper cleanup
  • Wear safety goggles/eyeglasses always

Follow these guidelines when working with a centrifuge:

  • When loading the rotor, examine the tubes for signs of stress, and discard any tubes that are damaged.
  • Inspect the inside of each tube cavity or bucket. Remove any glass or other debris from the rubber cushion.
  • Ensure that the centrifuge has adequate shielding to guard against accidental flyaways.
  • Use a centrifuge only if it has a disconnect switch that deactivates the rotor when the lid is open.
  • Do not overfill a centrifuge tube to the point where the rim, cap, or cotton plug becomes wet.
  • Always keep the lid closed during operation and shut down. Do not open the lid until the rotor is completely stopped.
  • Do not brake the head rotation by hand.
  • Do not use aluminum foil to cap a centrifuge tube. Foil may rupture or detach.
  • When balancing the rotors, consider the tubes, buckets, adapters, inserts, and any added solution.
  • Stop the rotor and discontinue operation if you notice anything abnormal such as a noise or vibration.
  • Rotor heads, buckets, adapters, tubes, and plastic inserts must match.

Low-speed and small portable centrifuges that do not have aerosol-tight chambers may allow aerosols to escape. Use a safety bucket to prevent aerosols from escaping.

High-speed centrifuges pose additional hazards due to the higher stress and force applied to their rotors and tubes. In addition to the safety guidelines outlined above, follow these guidelines for high-speed centrifuges:

  • Filter the air exhausted from the vacuum lines.
  • Keep a record of rotor usage, in order to avoid the hazard of metal fatigue.
  • Frequently inspect, clean, and dry rotors to prevent corrosion or other damage.
  • Follow the manufacturers operating instructions exactly.

May 2011
Reviewed November 2014