An autoclave is a commonly used piece of equipment in biomedical laboratories. Autoclaves pose many hazards including physical hazards (e.g., heat, steam and pressure) and biological hazards. Each autoclave has unique characteristics. Review and understand the owner’s manual before using any autoclave for the first time and as needed thereafter. Contact the manufacturer to request on-site training, if necessary. Ensure that the owner’s manual is readily available, in case questions arise during operation. Autoclave maintenance is an important aspect of a properly functioning autoclave. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for preventative maintenance and ensure all contractors are approved by the manufacturer. Maintenance should include periodic efficiency tests (e.g., Bacillus stearothermophilus spore testing) to ensure the autoclave is functioning properly. Do not autoclave items containing corrosives (e.g., acids, bases, phenol), solvents or volatiles (e.g., ethanol, methanol, chloroform) or radioactive materials.
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