OSHA Safety Standards for Compressed Air

Safety should always be a serious concern within industrial environments.  Walk through any production facility and you should see all kinds of steps taken to give a safe workplace to the operators, contractors, and other team members.  Whether this is through a sign showing PPE required to enter an area, an emergency exit sign, a safe walkway, or machine guards.  Safety has become a standard that should never be lowered and there is good reason for that.

EXAIR designs all of our products to be safe and they meet or exceed OSHA standards that are directed toward compressed air safety.  The first is to ensure that an operator or maintenance worker will not be injured through air impinging their skin should they come into contact with an EXAIR product.   This OSHA standard is 29 CFR1910.242(b) claiming that all point of use compressed air products must be regulated to have less than 30 psig of dead end pressure.   This directive is critical for worker safety and the way many blowoffs skirt by is to cross drill holes in the end of the blowoff.

Cross drilled holes may satisfy the dead end pressure standard but it does not address OSHA’s next important compressed air standard about noise exposure, OSHA standard 29CFR1910.95(a).  The allowable noise level standard combined with 30 psig dead end pressure will render many home made or retail nozzles near useless because few, if any, meet both standards.  Again, EXAIR has engineered and designed our Super Air Nozzles to permit 80 psig inlet pressure and still meet or exceed both of these OSHA standards so that the work can still be done by the operators while remaining safe and retaining their hearing.

For a better explanation and demonstration of how our nozzles meet these standards please see the video below.

While I use nozzles and cross drilled pipes as examples within this blog these safety features are designed into every product that EXAIR offers.  This is due to the fact that OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC do not delineate between a blow gun, blow off within a machine, or even a Cabinet Cooler System.  If the device is powered by compressed air then the two key OSHA standard are in effect due to the inherit dangers of compressed air.

I encourage you now to walk through your facility and try to listen or spot compressed air points of use within your facility.  Then, I ask you to call, chat, e-mail, or tweet an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and let us help you determine the most efficient and safest product to get the work done.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab: A Service Providing ROI

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Have you ever stood at a dealership wondering what car to buy?  You have a variety of things to consider like safety, gas mileage, quality and price.  But what if the dealership had a professional race car driver to test each car for you and give you a detailed report about each one?  That would definitely help you to make a better choice.  At EXAIR, we are that professional driver when it comes to compressed air products.

EXAIR has been manufacturing compressed air products since 1983, and we created a culture of making high quality products that are safe, effective, and very efficient.  Since we stand by our products, we created a program called the Efficiency Lab.  This program is to compare your current pneumatic blow-off device with an EXAIR engineered product.  We generate a detailed report to send to you for review.  It is a free service that EXAIR provides for U.S. and Canadian companies to “test drive” your current pneumatic blow-off items.

Why do we offer this?  Air Compressors use a lot of electrical power and are considered to be a fourth utility within plants and industries.  Many people do not realize the cost and safety concerns when using improper blow-off devices.  As an example, if you look at a single 1/8” open pipe for blowing compressed air, it can cost you over $2,000 a year to operate.  This will add to your overhead and cut profits.  Another reason to consider your blow-off device is that compressed air can be dangerous.  With that same 1/8” open pipe, it can violate OSHA standards in noise exposure and dead-end pressure.  In deciding your “vehicle” for blowing compressed air, cheap is not the best option.  In reference to my analogy above, it would be like buying a car that gets 3 MPG with faulty brakes.

With our Efficiency Lab, it is quite simple to do.  For starters, you can go to our Product Efficiency Survey on our website to give the conditions for testing.  If you wish for a side by side analysis, you can place your pneumatic device in a box and send it to EXAIR.  We will run the tests at the specified conditions or in a range of settings.  We will then return your pneumatic device back to you at our cost with a detailed report of the comparison.  Your information will be confidential, and we will not share it without your permission.  Many customers like to use this report to show managers, executives, HSE, etc. on the improvements that EXAIR can provide in cost savings and safety.

How do we do the Efficiency Lab?  We use calibrated equipment and standardized procedures to test for noise levels, flow usage, and force measurements.  We will recommend an EXAIR engineered solution as a replacement to your current device to do the comparison.  With the analytical information, we can also figure the total amount of air savings, return on investment, payback period and safety improvements.

Don’t be fooled; not all blow off devices are the same.  You do not want to sacrifice safety, time, and money with a sub-standard product.  Let EXAIR solve this dilemma with our free service; the Efficiency Lab.  As the expert in this industry, you can get a detailed report with a comparison analysis to make a great choice.  “Vroom Vroom!”

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Picture: Checkered Flag by OpenClipart-VectorsPixabay License

Engineered Super Air Nozzles Improve Efficiency and Safety vs. Commercial and Homemade Nozzles

They may be inefficient, but they sure are loud…

Over the years, EXAIR has come across a variety of different types of blow-off devices.  We have seen copper tubes, pipes with a crushed end, fittings with holes drilled into them, and modular flex lines.  For compressed air use, these are very dangerous and very inefficient.  In many instances, companies will go through a mixed bag of items to make a blow-off device for their application.  It is inexpensive to do.  But what they do not realized is that these items are very unsafe and will waste your compressed air, costing you much money in the long run.

When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products in 1983, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and efficient.  Since we stand by our products, we created a program called the Efficiency Lab.  We test blow-off devices against EXAIR products in noise levels, flow usage, and force measurements.  With calibrated test equipment, we compare the data in a detailed report for the customer to review.  If we are less effective, we will state that in the report, but this is very rare.  With this quantified information, we can then determine the total amount of air savings and safety improvements that EXAIR products can offer.

With our Efficiency Lab, it is quite simple to do.  For starters, you can go to our Product Efficiency Survey on our website to give the conditions for testing.  If you wish for a side by side analysis, you can place your pneumatic device in a box and send it to EXAIR.  We will run the tests at the specified conditions or in a range of settings.  We will then return your pneumatic device back to you with a report of the comparison.  This report can be used to show managers, executives, HSE, etc. on the improvements that EXAIR can provide in cost savings and safety.

In a recent Efficiency Lab, a customer sent us a water jet nozzle that he was using to blow off product passing on a conveyor (reference photo above).  The customer supplied us with the required information to test.  They had three water jet nozzles on a manifold that had ¼” NPT male connections.  The air pressure was set at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar), and the air pattern was round.  Their annual usage for this blow-off device was 7000 hours continuous, and their electric rate for their facility was $0.10/KWh.  The reason that they sent their nozzle to EXAIR was because the operation was very loud, and they believed that they were wasting compressed air.  They asked me for a recommendation and what the payback period might be with my selection.

Model 1101

I recommended the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle as our standard round pattern with a ¼” NPT male connection.  With our engineered design, the Super Air Nozzle can entrain the “free” ambient air into the air stream to generate a hard-hitting force; using less compressed air.  Also, with this suggestion, they will not have to redesign their blow-off station; just remove the water jet nozzles and replace them with the Super Air Nozzles.  We tested the water jet nozzle, and we found that it used 17.5 SCFM (496 SLPM) at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar).  The noise level was measured at 91.2 dBA for a single nozzle.  As a comparison, the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle will only use 13.3 SCFM (376 SLPM) of compressed air at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar); and, the noise level was reduced to 73 dBA for each nozzle.

The first thing that is important to me is safety.  High noise levels will cause hearing damage.  OSHA generated a standard 29CFR-1910.95a with a chart for Maximum Allowable Noise Exposure.  To calculate the noise level for three nozzles, I will reference a previous blog that I wrote: “Measuring and Adding Sounds”.  With three water jet nozzles, the total sound is 96 dBA.  From the OSHA table above, the usage without hearing protection is less than 4 hours a day.  With the Super Air Nozzles, the noise level will be 78 dBA for all three nozzles; well below the requirement for 8 hours of exposure.  It is difficult to put a monetary value on safety, but using PPE should never be the first step as a solution.

For the annual savings and the payback period, I will only look at the electrical cost.  (Since the Super Air Nozzle is using less compressed air, the maintenance and wear on your air compressor is reduced as well).

The air savings is calculated from the comparison; 17.5 SCFM – 13.3 SCFM = 4.2 SCFM per nozzle.  With three nozzles, the total compressed air savings will be 12.6 SCFM for the blow-off station.  An air compressor can produce 5.36 SCFM/KW of electricity at a cost of $0.10/KWh.  For an annual savings, we have the figures from the information above; 7000 hours/year * 12.6 SCFM * $0.10/KWh * 1KW/5.36 SCFM = $1,645.52/year.  For the payback period, the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle has a catalog price of $44.00 each, or $132.00 for three.  The customer above did not disclose the cost of the water jet nozzles, but even at a zero value, the payback period will be just under 1 month.  Wow!

Not all blow off devices are the same.  With the customer above, they were able to reduce their noise levels and compressed air consumption.  If your company decides to select an unconventional way to blow off parts without contacting EXAIR, there can be many hidden pitfalls; especially with safety.  Besides, if you can save your company thousands of dollars per year as well, why go with a non-standard nozzle?  If you have a blow off application and would like to compare it against an EXAIR product, you can discuss the details with an Application Engineer.  What do you have to lose?

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Measuring and Adding Sound Levels

Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, is one of the most common occupational diseases. This doesn’t occur overnight, but the effects are noticed gradually over many years of unprotected exposure to high sound levels. This is 100% preventable! Through proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), NIHL can be prevented. It is irreversible, so once the damage is done there’s no going back. OSHA standard 19 CFR 1910.95(a) states that protection against the effects of noise exposure shall be provided when the sound levels and exposure time exceed those shown in the table below.

OSHA Chart

Intensity of the sound pressure level is expressed in decibels (dB). The scale is logarithmic, a 3 dB reduction cuts the sound level in half. A 10 dB reduction decreases it by a factor of 10, and a 20 dB reduction decreases the sound level by a factor of 100. To calculate the dB level, we use the following formula:

Sound SPL

Where:

L – Sound Pressure Level, dB

P – Sound Pressure, Pa

Pref – reference sound pressure, 0.00002 Pa

For example, normal conversation has a Sound Pressure of .01Pa. To calculate the dB level:

dB = 20 log10 (.01Pa/.00002Pa)

 = 54 dB

When designing a new blowoff process, it’s important to consider the sound levels produced before implementation. EXAIR publishes the sound level for all of our products for this very reason. If you’re implementing multiple nozzles, you’ll need to add the sound levels together. To do so, we use the following formula:

Sound Addition

Where:

L1, L2… represent the sound pressure level in dB for each source

A customer was using ¼” open ended copper tubes for a blowoff application removing trim after a stamping operation. They had a total of (4) tubes operating at 80 PSIG. Not only were they VERY inefficient, but the sound level produced at this pressure was 94 dBA. To calculate the sound level of all (4) together we use the above formula:

L = 10 x log10(109.4+ 109.4 + 109.4 + 109.4)

L = 100 dB

At this sound level, permanent hearing loss begins to occur in just two hours of unprotected exposure. We recommended replacing the loud and inefficient copper pipe with our 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, Model 1126. At 80 PSIG, the 1126 produces a sound level of just 75 dBA.

L = 10 x log10 (107.5 + 107.5 + 107.5 + 107.5)

L = 81 dB

At almost a 20 dB reduction, that’s nearly 100x quieter! Don’t rely on just PPE to keep your operators safe from NIHL. Replacing loud inefficient blowoff methods with EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products will take it one step further in ensuring your creating a safe working environment for your employees.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products: Leading the Way in Standards Compliance

EXAIR prides itself in offering products with high-performance and peak efficiency. All EXAIR products are manufactured to meet the strict requirements of a variety of different standards, ensuring that you receive a reliable, high quality product that WILL perform to the specifications we publish.

Safety is a top priority for most companies, EXAIR’s line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products meet or exceed the strict safety standards set forth by both OSHA and the European Union. EXAIR products comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.242(b), the standard implemented to ensure safe operation of compressed air blowoff devices, and the EU General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC).

sag-osha-compliant
The engineered design of our Super Air Nozzles prevents compressed air from penetrating the skin by eliminating the potential of dead-ending when pressed against the skin.

OSHA Chart

Additionally, they comply with the noise limitation requirements set forth under 29 CFR 1910.95(a) and the EU Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC). From the Optimization product line, EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control and the Electronic Temperature Control meet the low voltage standards of EU Low Voltage Directive (2006/95/EC). A CE label is placed on all products that comply with applicable directives.

UL

UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is a third-party safety and consulting organization that certifies products after thorough testing and evaluation. EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers are UL Listed to US and Canadian safety standards. Static Eliminators are also UL Component Recognized. Within our line of Cabinet Coolers is the Hazardous Location Cabinet Cooler, bearing the Classified UL mark for use in classified areas.

ROHS_Vector

In the assembly of electrical products there can be hazardous materials used during production. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances, also known as RoHS or (2002/95/EC), restricts the use of materials such as: lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and four different phthalates. The electrical portions of EXAIR’s Static Eliminators, Electronic Flow Control, Electronic Temperature Control, Digital Flowmeter, solenoid valves, and thermostats all comply with the amendment outlined in the European Commission decision L 214/65.

In addition to RoHS, EXAIR is also committed to providing products that are conflict mineral free. In support ofconflictfree_v2 Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer protection Act, EXAIR complies with the conflict minerals rule to curb illicit trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the DRC region. Using the CMRT 4.20 template, we’re able to document our supply chain to ensure our materials are not being sourced from places that could finance conflict in the DRC and surrounding countries.

reachFinally, per Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 Title I, Article 3, paragraph 3, the European Union enacted legislation requiring substances and chemicals imported into the EU to be registered to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment. Per Title II, Article 7, paragraph 1, articles must be registered when a substance is intended to be released during normal conditions of use that would exceed 1 metric ton per producer per year. Since EXAIR products do not contain substances that are intentionally released, registration is not required.

If you’re looking to maintain compliance in your industry, EXAIR products have you covered. If you have any questions about these standards of compliance feel free to reach out to us. Our team of Application Engineers have years of experience in industry are waiting to take your call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Airguns, OSHA, And You

Depending on the context, those may be three words you DON’T want to hear in the same sentence. Case in point…a caller I spoke with recently, who works at a large steel forging plant. During a recent inspection, management was surprised (and disappointed) to find out that, unbeknownst to them, some of their operators had modified some of their compressed air blow off devices.

These modifications left them in violation of both OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) (limit on outlet, or dead end pressure) and 1910.95(a) (limits noise level exposure.)  The OSHA inspector left them with an $8,000.00 fine, and a promise to return with an even higher one if the situation wasn’t corrected.

We discussed the ways their current devices were supplied, the conditions they were operating in, what they were used for…and why the operators had modified them.  Sadly, we found the devices were underperforming due to air supply issues – hoses that were too small in diameter and/or too long, with restrictive quick connect fittings.  And some of their modifications (drilling out the discharge) just exacerbated those problems.

Most of their applications were pretty typical – blowing flash, chips, oil, coolant, etc. from processed metal parts.  Typical enough that a couple of EXAIR Safety Air Guns would allow them to determine what they would need, by taking them around to various stations in the plant and trying them out.

My caller ordered a Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (our most popular for typical blow off applications,) and a Model 1260 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a High Force 1/2 NPT Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (the most powerful one available on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.)

Here’s Model 1210-6-CS, fitted with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle on a 6″ Rigid Extension & Chip Shield.  All EXAIR Safety Air Guns are compliant with OSHA Standard 1910.242(b).

I feel pretty good about the chances of publishing a future blog about the success of this application.  If you want to keep up, I encourage to follow the EXAIR blog – there’s a link to the right to provide your email address – for more on this one, other applications, and a wealth of expert writings on how to get the most out of your compressed air system.

As always, if you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Is PVC Pipe Alright to Use with Compressed Air?

A question arises every now and then on whether or not PVC pipe, yes the stuff from your local hardware store that says it is rated for 200 psi, is safe to use as compressed air supply line.   The answer is always the same,  NO! OSHA agrees – see their statement here.

Schedule 40 PVC pipe is not designed nor rated for use with compressed air or other gases.  PVC pipe will explode under pressure, it is impacted significantly by temperature and can be difficult to get airtight.

PVC pipe was originally designed and tested for conveyance of liquids or products that cannot be compressed, rather they can be pressurized.   The largest concern is the failure method of the piping itself.   When being used with a liquid that cannot be compressed, if there is a failure (crack or hole) then the piping will spring a leak and not shatter.   When introducing a compressed gas, such as compressed air, if there is a failure the method ends up being shrapnel.  This YouTube video does a good job of illustrating how the pipe shatters.

While it may seem that it takes a good amount of pressure to cause a failure in the pipe, that is often not the case.  I have chatted with some local shop owners who decided to run PVC as a quick and cheap alternative to get their machines up and running.

They each experienced the same failures at different points in time as well.  The worst one was a section of PVC pipe installed over a workbench failed where an operator would normally be standing. Luckily the failure happened at night when no one was there.  Even though no one got injured this still caused a considerable expense to the company because the compressor ran overnight trying to pressurize a ruptured line.

Temperature will impact the PVC as well. Schedule 40 PVC is generally rated for use between 70°F and 140°F (21°-60°C). Pipes that are installed outside or in non temperature controlled buildings can freeze the pipes and make them brittle.

If you haven’t worked with PVC before or do not let the sealant set, it can be hard to get a good seal, leading to leaks and a weak spot in the system.

The point of this is the cheapest, quick, and easy solutions are more often , the ones that will cost the most in the long run.

If you would like to discuss proper compressed air piping and how to save compressed air on your systems, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Image courtesy of: Dennis Hill, Creative Commons License