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Centrifuge Safety

A centrifuge is commonly found in the laboratory yet potentially very dangerous instrument if not used properly and maintained to manufacturing specifications. The greatest hazards from operating the instrument stem from either mechanical conditions or processing material. The safety instructions below will address these two hazards and methods for managing the risks of using a centrifuge. Before a new user operates a centrifuge for the first time, they should read the operators manual and have the Principal Investigator (PI) instruct a new user how to proper operate.

Standard Guidelines

  • Follow manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  • Ensure rotor in operation is rated for the maximum speed needed.
  • Balance samples within the rotor.
  • Always secure the lid.
  • Ensure correct adaptors are being used (if needed).
  • NEVER open lid while rotor is spinning.
  • Clean all spills immediately.
  • Never move the centrifuge while operating.


  • Refer to the owner’s manual for maintenance.
  • Maintain running log of the number of runs per rotor.
  • Inspect rotors for fatigue. Never used expired or maximum runs.
  • Inspect rotors for corrosion. Corrosion can weaken the rotor and should be replaced.
  • Never clean rotor or rotor parts with wire brushes.
  • Do not use alkaline detergents or cleaning solutions on aluminum parts.
  • Inspect centrifuge for cracks, discoloration and any other abnormalities. If found, contact the manufacture for further instruction. 

Centrifuging Hazardous Materials

  • Develop a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the laboratory’s centrifuge operations.
  • Load and unload hazardous substances in properly ventilated area (fume hood, Biosafety cabinet, etc.).
  • Samples should be aspirated when possible.
  • Wait 10 minutes to allow aerosols to settle in the centrifuge chamber when possible.
  • Clean and decontaminate all parts after each use following manufacture instruction.
  • In the event of an unmanageable spill, close the lid and contact Safety, Health & Sustainability 760-750-4502 for assistance.