Centrifuges can create aerosols and this must be considered with each use. The necessary precautions taken will depend upon what is being used. If hazardous materials such as carcinogens, highly toxic, or infectious agents will be placed in a centrifuge, then precautions must be taken to prevent an exposure of lab personnel to aerosols or liquids.

Improper care of a centrifuge and its components can lead to exposure to hazardous substances, injuries, damaged equipment and lab space, and a loss of research, money, and time.


  • Microcentrifuge ~15,000 rpm
  • Low/High speed 2,000 – 20,000 rpm
  • Ultracentrifuges ~120,000 rpm


  • Mechanical failure of the machine
  • Lab equipment failure (tubes, etc.)
  • Aerosol generation
  • Operator Error

Operating Procedures

  • Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for care.
  • Develop and implement a strict cleaning, storing, and maintenance protocol.
  • Only use manufacturer compatible centrifuge, rotor, buckets, caps, and adapters.
  • Replace centrifuge parts including bottles, tubes, and O-rings at the first sign of damage.
  • Assemble the bottles, buckets, and rotor per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Tightly seal all tubes and safety cups.
  • Close lid during operation.
  • Allow to come to complete stop before opening.

Safe Operation

  • Use safety cups whenever possible.
  • Disinfect or clean weekly and after all spills or breakages.
  • Lubricate O-rings and rotor threads weekly.
  • Do not operate the centrifuge without the rotor properly balanced.
  • Do not use rotors that have been dropped.
  • Inspect the speed disk for sign of damage if using an ultra-speed unit and discontinue use if damaged.
  • Inspect the rotor and tube cavities for signs of damage and discontinue use if damaged.
  • If using a swinging bucket rotor, follow these additional workplace practice controls:
    • Ensure all metal buckets are in place.
    • Use matching buckets, caps, and adapters
    • Load symmetrical to axis of rotation and to pivotal axis within the manufacturer's recommended load tolerance.
    • Ensure buckets are properly seated to the rotor and the rotor is properly attached to the centrifuge spindle.
  • If using a fixed angle rotor, follow these additional workplace practice controls:
    • Tighten rotor lid correctly.
    • Properly install and attach rotor to spindle.
    • Gently pull up on the rotor to confirm rotor is attached.
  • Contact your centrifuge representative for specific information.

If you suspect leakage occurred from the centrifuge, leave the area, do not open the centrifuge for at least 30 minutes to allow aerosols to settle, then access situation while wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and taking necessary precautions. Contact EHS at (512) 471-3511 as necessary for assistance.