Central Sterile Supply » Burns/Cuts


Autoclave. There are many types of autoclave units ranging from small units, for sterilizing small instruments or inactivating small amounts of waste, to very large, facility-scale units for inactivating large quantities of waste.

Burns and cuts can occur from handling or sorting hot sterilized items or sharp instruments when removing them from autoclaves/sterilizers or from steam lines that service the autoclaves.

OSHA Requirements

  • Provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Employers must assess the workplace to identify potential worksite hazards and provide and ensure that employees use appropriate PPE. [29 CFR 1910.132]
    • Employers shall require employees to use appropriate hand protection when hands are exposed to hazards such as severe cuts or lacerations, or thermal burns. Appropriate hand protection might include using gloves designed to handle hot items, or to handle or sort sharp instruments (e.g., steel mesh or Kevlar gloves) [29 CFR 1910.138(a)].

Recognized Controls and Work Practices

  • Establish work practices to reduce burn/cut hazards, including ensuring employees:
    • Do not remove items from sterilizers until cooled.
    • Avoid handling sharp ends of instruments.
    • Use forceps or other devices to remove sharp instruments from baskets and autoclaves.
    • Address cut hazards when sorting instruments before placing them into the autoclave.

Additional Information