What is an autoclave and how do you operate one safely? Take a look below as we delve deeper into the world of autoclaves.
Autoclaves are useful in the disinfection and sterilisation of materials in labs, hospitals, tattoo parlours, and other environments.
By using a combination of high temperature and high pressure, an autoclave can kill microorganisms such as bacteria and pathogens.
The process also renders any biohazard on the items inactive, thereby making the items sterile and safe.
That said, using machines that create high-pressure and high-temperature environments call for one to cognisant of and use the best safety practices and standards.
Herein we will look at some of the best autoclave safety and operations practices to use.
- Get proper training on using the machine
- Prepare for loading properly
- Load the autoclave properly
- Closely monitor the autoclave
- Unload the autoclave properly
- Inspect and maintain the autoclave
Get Proper Training On Using The Machine
While getting proper training on operating an autoclave might seem obvious, it's so important for safety that we choose to emphasise its importance.
Every autoclave operator must get adequate training on standard safety and emergency safety procedures, and get certificates for this.
Most importantly, scheduled retraining should be part of autoclave safety and operation.
Prepare For Loading Properly
The first thing you need to do is to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including heat resistant gloves, a lab coat, and eye protection.
As part of the preparations for loading, you should ensure the autoclave is ready for loading.
This includes checking the door gaskets, ensuring they pliable and intact. You should also ensure that there are no previous items in the autoclave.
You should also prepare the items to ensure the sterilisation process is not only effective but efficient.
As such, you should pack solid materials loosely to allow steam penetration everywhere.
When autoclaving bags and containers, you should open then to ensure steam penetrates everywhere.
Moreover, you should place the container or bags in a large, shallow, leak-proof, and non-glass pan that can contain spills.
Glassware, on the other hand, should be placed in a heat-resistant tray, which in turn should be placed on a rack or shelf.
You should never place glassware in the bottom of the chamber.
You need to know the materials you should not load into an autoclave for safety reasons. Some of the materials you should never autoclave include:
- Sealed containers containing liquids
- Flammable, radioactive, corrosive, toxic (chloroform, formalin, alcohols, acetic acid), and reactive materials
- Pathological waste
Load The Autoclave Properly
When loading the autoclave, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
However, you should never overload and always ensure the autoclave door is fully closed and latched properly.
Select the correct cycle for the items you are sterilising.
Monitoring The Autoclave
Operators should thoroughly monitor every load closely as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
If the user manual stipulates the use of heat-sensitive sterilisation indicator tape, the operator should use the tape with each load.
The operator should also monitor the tape to ensure proper sterilisation.
Unload The Autoclave Properly
Before operating the autoclave, the operator should ensure that they are wearing their PPE.
After that, ensure the cycle is complete, the pressure and the temperature is at or below the safe range.
This means you have to give the autoclave some 10 to 15 minutes to cool off after completing the cycle.
Open the door safely, with your face, head, and hands away from the opening door.
When removing liquids from the autoclave, ensure you do not shake the container leading spillage of hot liquids.
Inspect And Maintain The Autoclave
Every autoclave has its maintenance and repair requirements.
Autoclave operators must operate their equipment in strict compliance with the safety and maintenance guidelines.
With the above general safety guidelines, autoclave operators will reduce the risk of accidents and safety violations.
If you are searching for the best autoclave supplier in Australia, then look no further than Medical Equipment Services Australia.
We were originally established in 1952 in order to provide electro-medical products to healthcare professionals across the country.
The company (Medical Equipment Services) was acquired by Medical Equipment Australia in 2009. Since then, we have also expanded into the dental industry.