Application Note – Sterilization N.1
Good Steam Sterilization Practice
The bigger number of accidents in the analytical laboratory is due to the non application of the basic safety rules. Only trained and specifically educated operator should use the autoclave sterilizer.
The basic autoclave safety rules
It is imperative to strictly follow the suggestions reported in this document.
- It is forbidden to remove any of the safety devices of the autoclave.
- The material to be sterilized should compatible with the programmed sterilization cycle and only products that are intrinsically safe should be sterilized (e.g.: possibility of explosion).
- The temperature and the pressure indicated on the display must be always monitored and evaluated before to take any action.
- The flexible thermo-probe must be positioned inside the container (vial / bottle / Erlenmeyer flask / carboy, etc.) to be sure the monitored temperature is the temperature of the liquid to be sterilized and not the temperature of the sterilization chamber. If the flexible thermo-probe is not available, and it is fixed on the wall of the autoclave, it is necessary to consider that the temperature of the liquid reached inside the container will be always late. This retard will be proportional to the volume of liquid. If, for example, the volume of the liquid is 50 ml, it is necessary to consider at least a margin of 30°C and therefore the cooling should reach about 40°C (considering 65-70°C are safe) before to open the autoclave.
- In any case, if the flexible thermo-probe is fixed inside the liquid of a glass container, there is the risk of a breakage. In this case the temperature is the temperature of the sterilization chamber!
- It is advisable, when possible, to open the autoclave when the temperature of the sterilization chamber is at room temperature.
- Face shield and protective gloves should be positioned very close to he autoclave and used each time the autoclave is open at the end of the sterilization cycle.
The Standard Operative Procedure (SOP)
A specific Standard Operative Procedure (POS) about the “Good Autoclave Practice” should includes all the reported instructions/suggestions.