Safety Precautions when Using a Laboratory Incubator


Incubating cells to promote microbial growth can be dangerous to human health, especially when not handled properly. Some microbes, such as fungi, may trigger allergies and other health risks when inhaled; viruses and bacteria may cause infections by mere exposure to open wounds. Hence, safety protocols must be followed to avoid these health mishaps from happening.

Safety procedures should likewise be applied when handling laboratory incubators. Incubators house cell culture samples. Their surfaces are often contaminated with these specimens. Users can be at risk of falling sick by merely touching the interiors of the device through surface contact.

Among the safety precautions to follow when using a laboratory incubator are:

  1. Carry out a full risk assessment prior to doing any microbiological investigation

Not all microbiological research is safe to conduct. Some studies, particularly those that involve deadly viruses and bacteria, have to be handled with utmost care to prevent contamination. You may want to assess the specimens before preparing them for study. A risk assessment allows you to determine which equipment to use to handle the specimens properly and safely from preparation, transfer, to placement inside the incubator.

  1. Keep plates at room temperature.

Always keep the specimen plates at room temperature. Being in room temperature reduces the risk of microbial reactions, either due to heat, cold, or humidity.

It is also best to keep in mind that reducing the incubator’s temperature slows down the growth of culture. If your study is time sensitive, or if you are monitoring the time frames of cell culture growth, then it is best to avoid tinkering with temperature settings.

  1. Inoculated plates should be taped before incubation to ensure they cannot be opened accidentally.

Taping inoculated plates secures the placement of the specimens placed on them. This reduces the risk of them being opened especially when the incubator is moved by external force, or when the device shakes.

Plates should also be incubated upside down. This prevents condensed moisture from dripping onto the plate and contaminating the cell specimen.

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