Complying with OSHA’s Compressed Air Standard

One of the most commonly misunderstood regulations about compressed air is, how to use it safely. OSHA requires a few key features to adhere to when using compressed air to clean. Many people come to the conclusion that the supply air pressure must be reduced to below 30 psig to safely use compressed air for cleaning. This will severely limit compressed air’s effectiveness. There are other ways to use compressed air safely, before we get to that though what has OSHA published on the subject.

meets or exceeds osha

OSHA’s directive 1910.242(b) states “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 PSIG and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment.” This standard is unclear in a vacuum, but in 1978 OSHA released OSHA instruction STD 01-13-0001 (which also includes acceptable methods), which gave an interpretation on what “reduce to less than 30 PSIG” means. From the interpretation, The phrase, “Reduce to less than 30 psi means that the downstream pressure of the air at the nozzle (nozzle pressure) or opening of a gun, pipe, cleaning lance, etc., used for cleaning purposes will remain at a pressure level below 30 psi for all static conditions. The requirements for dynamic flow are such that in the case when dead ending occurs a static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. This requirement is necessary in order to prevent a back pressure buildup in case the nozzle is obstructed or dead ended.”

This is technical speak for a nozzle that will allow a path for air to escape in case the nozzle is dead ended. EXAIR designs all of our products with this directive in mind. Typical compressed air safety nozzles feature an open tube with a cross drilled hole at the tip. This nozzle complies with the OSHA directive as well, but typically exceeds OSHA noise exposure standards and wastes compressed air. EXAIR’s engineered nozzles are designed to reduce the noise level below OSHA standards and use compressed air efficiently. This can greatly lower the energy cost of running your compressed air system.

EXAIR Model 1210-6-CS is shown.  This model meets or exceeds OSHA Standard 1910.242(a)
EXAIR Model 1210-6-CS is shown. This model meets or exceeds OSHA Standard 1910.242(b)

Secondly, in the interpretation OSHA requires effective chip guarding to further protect operating personnel. EXAIR offers Chip Shields which can fit all of our Safety Air Guns as well as many other blow guns. This Chip Shields feature a durable polycarbonate material to deflect and stop blowing chips from being directed toward the operator. This chip shield can help meet the requirements for OSHA 1910.242(b), but each company needs to carefully identify any operators that may be in the path of blown debris when using compressed air to clean.

If you would like to discuss your current blow off devices and see what model EXAIR offers to help you meet and exceed OSHA safety standards, please contact us.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer

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