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Using Autoclave Safely

Autoclaves are required to be used in many areas for scientific research, including, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, campus, hospitals, and etc. The purpose of using autoclave is to keep the items from being contaminated by the microorganism. The autoclaves are normally used at the beginning or end of the research. Before the research, autoclaves will be used to sterilize the utensils, clothes or instruments to make sure that the research is free from contaminants. And at the end of the research, the autoclave is used to sterilize the wastes, to ensure that the waste disposal won’t contaminate the environment. During operation, the temperature and pressure inside the chamber of the autoclave are extremely high, the autoclave may present several safety hazards to operators for the autoclave, as a result, the autoclave should be used and cared properly during operation or it may easily malfunction.

Operation phases of autoclave:
For different types of items, operators could adjust the parameters and program of the autoclave to sterilize. For instance, the vacuum and drying function is added only for the items that are the non-solution type. For the sterilization of solutions, vacuum and dry function cannot be operated, or the solution will be evaporated. And for the solid items, such as instruments, should be vacuumed before sterilization to eliminate the cold point inside the chamber, and the drying phase is also needed to make the surface of the item dry. And one point should be mentioned is that the autoclave can never sterilize any flammable or volatile items!

Ensuring complete sterilization:
It is imperative to ensure that the autoclave has sterilized the items thoroughly. Normally, the sterilization effect is tested by using the tape indicator. But the problem for using the tape indicator is that the tape is on the surface, the positive reading can only indicate that the surface of the tape is sterilized. The solution to this is to put the tape into a package, and then put it into the chamber to sterilize to find the result.



Routine maintenance:
It is imperative to use biological indicator periodically to ensure that the autoclave is working properly. If the indicator fails, the autoclave must be checked to find out the problem, and after the problem is solved, it should be tested again to ensure sterilization effect.
The periodical maintenance should be performed to ensure that the autoclave is working normally. The period of the maintenance is determined by the age of the energy system and the age of the autoclave, for instance, the water source, the water source require more frequent maintenance if the hard water source is used, and it is better to use the water softener or water filter system to prevent scaling on the heating element, because the scaling may result in the working failure of the heating element. In addition, the heating element, water box, and pipeline should be cleaned periodically according to the user manual, to ensure normal operation of the autoclave.

During operation, the temperature and pressure inside autoclave are extremely high. Users should be cautions that the operation should be started after the doors are firmly closed. And the autoclave should have safety interlock system to prevent door open before the pressure decrease to room pressure. So before purchase, the buyer should conduct FAT on manufacturer’s site to confirm that the autoclave is equipped with the safety interlock function.
The chamber of the autoclave should be insulated, or the surface of the autoclave would be extremely hot, which may hurt the operator. And after sterilization, heat resistance gloves should be used to remove the sterilization plates or loading carts inside the autoclave.
The autoclave is also equipped with the alarms to remind the operators for the improper operation. For instance, when the compressed air, the water source is not connected or the pressure is too low, there would be the alarm on the touch screen to remind the operators.

Items cannot be sterilized by autoclave:
The following items should never be put inside the autoclave:
1.Flammable or Volatile liquid
2.Liquid sealed by containers
3.Materials contaminated by radiation

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