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Autoclave Operator

Sanitize medical equipment in high-temperature pressure cookers.

What does an Autoclave Operator do?

An autoclave is nothing more than a fancy pressure cooker. Items go in, are subjected to extreme heat and pressure, and come out disinfected and sometimes slightly changed. Autoclave Operators are the ones who run these machines.

Autoclave Operators may work for a hospital or veterinary clinic. If you’re an Autoclave Operator, you start the process by placing surgical equipment in the autoclave and turning it on. Then you watch over the machine closely. Even though it has a timer that tells you when the items inside are sterilized, you stand near it as it works, making sure the process is going forward as it should.

When the autoclave’s timer sounds, you open the door ever so slowly so the change in pressure won’t cause an explosion, and you remove the sterilized equipment from it.

You may also use your autoclave to process yarn or rubber for manufacturing operations. You’ll be told how hot the autoclave should be, and how long the items should sit in it. Then you load the items as instructed, and watch over the process.

When the process is complete, you remove the items. In some cases, the autoclave you’re working with may be so large that you’ll load and unload it using a forklift.

Periodically, you clean your autoclave and make sure it’s functioning properly. You also replace hoses and bearings as needed. If your autoclave breaks and you cannot fix it, you call the manufacturer and ask for an emergency repair. You may be so attached to your autoclave that you’ll pace the floor until the repair is complete and you can get back to work.