What safety precautions should be taken when working with a centrifuge?
Ensure a sturdy, level work surface
Always ensure the centrifuge is on an appropriate surface before operation.
Balance the centrifuge
Running an unbalanced centrifuge may cause significant damage, and injure the operator and other laboratory personnel. The total mass of each tube should be as close as possible- this becomes increasingly important at very high rotor speeds. Balancing masses to the nearest 0.1 gram is advisable, and it is important to balance tubes by mass, not volume. For example, do not balance a sample consisting of liquid with a higher or lower density than water with an equal volume of water.
Do not open the lid while the rotor is moving
Many centrifuges have a “safety shutoff.” However, this will only stop power to the rotor, which will still spin due to its inertia for some time until it is slowed to a stop by friction.
If the centrifuge is wobbling or shaking, pull the plug
A little vibration is normal, but excessive amounts can mean danger. First, double-check that the tubes are correctly balanced. If this does not resolve the issue, do not operate the centrifuge until it has been serviced by the manufacturer or dealer.
How do you balance a centrifuge?
Why do you need to balance a centrifuge
Before starting the centrifuge, it is necessary to load it correctly. Balancing the centrifuge prevents potential damage to the instrument, and is crucial for safe operation.
How to balance a centrifuge
Ensure all sample tubes are evenly filled. If additional tubes are required for the balancing, fill them with water or a liquid of similar density to the sample, and ensure the mass is balanced to the nearest 0.1 grams.
For each tube inserted in the rotor, add a tube of equal weight directly opposite it. This will ensure the center of gravity remains in the center of the rotor.
Rotate the rotor 90° and add two additional tubes directly opposite one another.