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California State University, Long Beach
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Autoclave Safety Policy and Training

NOTICE: Effective February 1, 2010, all personnel who use a CNSM-owned autoclave must successfully complete a new autoclave training/authorization process and be specifically approved to operate each unit. Persons/labs that do not follow these rules are subject to loss of autoclave access pending completion of an appropriate retraining session. This policy has been adopted in an effort to reduce operator injuries and the cost of repairs due to improper use.

This CNSM Safety policy requires that each operator of a College or Department-owned autoclave be trained and approved for autoclave use by specifically designated personnel.

Autoclave Training

  1. Please review the Autoclave Training slides
  2. Take the Autoclave Training Quiz.
    • Upon submission of the quiz; you will receive a confirmation email with your quiz score. While a perfect score is required to pass, there is no limit to the number of times the quiz may be retaken before the required perfect score is achieved.
  3. After receiving a perfect score on the quiz, show up to the proper location for in-person training:
    • I will be working in → MLSC, HSCI & Other
      Training Location: MLSC 100
      1st Tuesday of each month @ 10:00am
      3rd Tuesday of each month @ 4:00pm
      no appointment needed – you must be on time
      Individual trainings may be requested via your research advisor in the eventuality of time conflict due to class schedules
    • I will be working in → MICRO Building
      Training Location: Micro 104
      Dates: Tuesdays @ 8:30am
      by appointment only

Safe Autoclave Use - The Basics

Each autoclave has unique characteristics, even the same model can vary greatly. All generate dangerous pressures and temperatures during normal operation. This training will help you know and understand how to properly use each individual autoclave. Contact the designated people listed above and/or check the owners manual if questions arise. If you are not CONFIDENT you are loading and operating the unit correctly, STOP and get help from a KNOWLEDGEABLE source.

Notify the appropriate autoclave trainer/technician if there are any problems with the unit.

Never autoclave items containing acids, bases, phenol, solvents, flammable materials or radioactive materials. Consult CNSM Safety if in doubt about hazardous materials.

Treating infectious waste (BSL-2 or higher) so that it may be discarded as regular trash is prohibited. All such materials must ultimately be treated and discarded by a licensed biomedical waste contractor.

Utilize the following autoclave safety practices for every model autoclave:

  1. Sign in on the use-log. Make sure you put your supervisor's name down.
  2. Before using the autoclave, check inside the chamber for any items left by the previous user that could pose a hazard (trash, sharp items, etc).
  3. If you are the first user of the day, you must perform a generator flush for those units that have onboard steam supply. Record this as you would a cycle on the log sheet.
  4. If you are the first user of the day, you must perform a generator flush. Record this as you would a cycle on the log sheet.
  5. All items to be autoclaved must be in secondary containment. Be 100% sure that your secondary containment is autoclavable. Some melt. When in doubt ask a knowledgeable person.
  6. To prevent bottles from shattering during pressurization, the caps of containers with liquids must be loosened before loading. Always use secondary containment that can contain ALL of the contents that you wish to autoclave. (Do not autoclave 9 L in a 5 L secondary containment)
  7. Verify the door of the autoclave fully closed. (Wait 1 min to make sure your cycle starts)
  8. Always verify that the temperature parameters are set to 121°C.
  9. Wear heat-resistant gloves, closed-toe footwear when opening the autoclave door after a cycle. Autoclave gloves are available from CNSM Safety. Use eye protection as appropriate.
  10. Before removing autoclaved items, wait 5 minutes for loads containing only dry glassware, and 10 minutes for autoclaved liquid loads.

The autoclave trainer and supervisors will then provide routine oversight and spot checks on users and operations to ensure that proper procedures are being followed.

Faculty who own their own autoclave are responsible for providing and documenting safe autoclave use for their devices, and monitoring users compliance with those protocols.