Centrifuge Safety

The centrifuge is a powerful tool, but can be very dangerous if not used properly. The rotor and centrifuge are designed to withstand the operational stress generated by the centrifugal forces. However, mechanical failures can cause the centrifuge or rotors to explode. For this reason, it is important to follow the recommendations listed below:

  • Always make sure the loads are evenly balanced before the run
  • Never exceed safe rotor speed as dictated by the manufacturer’s manual
  • Make sure the rotor is properly secured prior to use
  • Inspect the centrifuge and rotor for signs of damage, fatigue and corrosion
  • Always wait for the centrifuge to reach maximum speed before leaving operating unit
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations for care of rotors
  • Stop the centrifuge immediately if there is any indication of a problem

Centrifugation of hazardous substances (biological or chemical) can introduce additional risk. When liquids are centrifuged they can aerosolize increasing the risk of exposure. Centrifuge tubes like rotors are rated for certain speeds. Spills can contaminate the centrifuge, corrode the rotors or damage the inside of the centrifuge.

  • Never overfill a centrifuge tube—this can result in a spill
  • Always make sure caps are secure prior to beginning run
  • Wait at least 10 minutes for aerosols to dissipate before opening the lid
  • Develop standard operating procedure to minimize exposure
  • Clean and decontaminate all parts according to manufacturer’s recommendations after use
  • If a problem occurs, always report it to the lab manager