Autoclaves can be used for both the disinfection of contaminated materials or for the sterilization of reagents and labware used in laboratory procedures. The use of autoclaves/steam sterilizers for decontamination poses additional hazards from those encountered in sterilization of reagents. Efficacy monitoring of autoclaves used for decontamination of laboratory waste with biological indicators must be done regularly (i.e., consider weekly, depending on the frequency of use of the autoclave), and the records of these results and cycle logs (i.e., time, temperature and pressure) must also be kept on file.
Principles of sterilization, disinfection, decontamination procedures, and validation are listed in Chapter 15 of the CBH. Infectious material and toxins, together with associated waste (e.g., petri dishes, pipettes, culture tubes, and glassware), can be effectively decontaminated in either a gravity displacement autoclave or a pre-vacuum autoclave as detailed in Section 15.4 of the CBH.
For additional information, please contact the EHS Health & Safety Officer responsible for your area.