Compressed Air Safety with EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products

Compressed air is a necessary utility in any manufacturing environment. When used improperly, this compressed air can pose very real and serious dangers to your personnel. It’s imperative that you’re aware of the potential risks associated with the use of compressed air and educate yourselves and your operators to ensure you’re operating safely.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) provides standards designed to mitigate the risks of compressed air usage. If not adhered to, fines can be administered for each infraction. Fines are given out for each individual infraction. Meaning, if you have unsafe blowguns that are used in your facility you’ll get a notice for each individual gun that is identified during an inspection. Inspections aren’t something that happen often, but they will show up unannounced and often at the worst possible times.

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) discusses the use of compressed air for cleaning and blowoff. It states that the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes is prohibited if the dead-ended pressure exceeds 30 psig. This phrase means the downstream pressure of the air nozzle or gun, used for cleaning purposes, will remain at a pressure level below 30 psig for all static conditions. In the event that dead ending occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. If it does exceed this pressure, there is a very high potential for it to create an air embolism. An air embolism, left untreated, can quickly impede the flow of blood throughout the body. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes death.

With this in mind, there are only two options for staying within compliance of this standard. Either install an engineered solution that will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psig if dead-ended, or regulate the pressure below 30 psig. For the vast majority of operations, regulating the input pressure below 30 psig is useless. The force and flow from the nozzle at this pressure is greatly reduced and likely not enough to be effective in most applications. All of EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns are designed so that the flow cannot be dead-ended. The fins on the Super Air Nozzles are not only useful in amplifying the force by drawing in ambient air, but they also prevent an operator from completely obstructing the airflow.

In addition to being concerned about dead-end pressure, OSHA 1910.242(b) also states that compressed air used for cleaning should include effective chip guarding. By this, they mean that some method or equipment must be installed that will prevent chips and particles from coming back into the eyes or skin of the operator. In addition to offering OSHA compliant nozzles and guns, EXAIR also has Chip Shields that can be installed onto any of our Safety Air Guns. The polycarbonate shields protect the operator from any flying debris while performing a drying or blowoff operation. Simply add a “-CS” to the end of any Safety Air Gun Model number to have a Chip Shield installed on the gun.

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is another common problem in many industrial facilities. Without the use of proper PPE, hearing loss can occur quickly. This is a serious concern as hearing loss is permanent and once the damage is done there’s no way to reverse it. Due to this risk, OSHA strictly enforces standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a).

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

This directive discusses the effects of noise and limits exposure based on the dBA. The table below indicates the maximum allowable exposure time to different noise levels. Sound levels that exceed these levels should first be addressed by proper engineering controls such as isolating the source of the sound from personnel or replacing the cause of the sound with something like an engineered compressed air nozzle. When such controls aren’t feasible, proper PPE must be worn to protect the operator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not contain any provisions that allow for the approval or endorsement of equipment. Alteration or the misapplication of what was once a safe piece of equipment would create a dangerous scenario that is out of the control of the original manufacturer. Any nozzles or guns marketed as “OSHA approved” should immediately throw up a red flag. Identifying and implementing a safe, OSHA compliant solution rests in the hands of the manufacturer themselves. If you’ve got questions about compressed air safety or have an existing blowoff in place that does not adhere to this OSHA directive, give us a call. We’ll be sure to recommend a solution that will keep your operators and wallets safe!

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

Custom Atomizing Spray Nozzle Gun For Decontaminating Workspace Due to COVID-19

EXAIR does not shy away from an application or solution that doesn’t involve a stocked or catalog product. We often provide customized solutions for a wide variety of customers across nearly each and every industry. Sometimes the cataloged products we  stock on the shelf doesn’t quite fit the application as best as it could. If we can modify them or make something custom from scratch, we absolutely will!

Recently I worked with a customer who was looking to solve a new application related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. He owned a cleaning company that contracts with a variety of local businesses to provide cleaning and sanitation services. Typically, that would consist of a bi-weekly visit to tidy up the office spaces and provide a general cleaning. With the current risks of COVID-19 running rampant, he’s seen a dramatic increase in businesses looking to implement a daily sanitization of common surfaces throughout the office.

While this is a service that he’s offered for some time, the current crisis has led many more companies to request additional cleaning within their offices. To perform this disinfecting procedure, the droplet size of the mist is critical. The spray gun that he was previously using did not provide a fine enough mist to reliably decontaminate the area. In addition, this gun was consuming too much liquid that would puddle up on various surfaces that would have to be later wiped down and dried. He was looking for a handheld solution that provided a fine enough atomization to both effectively eliminate any pathogens as well as prevent the unnecessary step of having to come behind and dry everything off.

Our line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles is an ideal solution for applications where a fine mist of fluid is required. But, these aren’t designed to be used in a handheld operation. Fortunately, we do have a variety of Safety Air Guns, extensions, and fittings that allow us to install an Atomizing Nozzle on the end of a handheld gun. In the photo below, we used a Model SF2020SS No-Drip Siphon Fed Atomizing Nozzle to produce the atomized flow of disinfectant. With standard fittings that we have in stock, we’re able to connect the nozzle to the end of a gun with a 24” extension. The operator carries a jug of disinfectant that is then drawn into the nozzle without the need for a pressurized tank or pump.

atom nozzle gun

This is just one example of a custom product designed specifically for a particular application. A quick search here on the EXAIR Blog will show a variety of various special products we’ve created over the years. Even though we regularly roll out new products and have been in business for nearly 37 years, there are still cases that we encounter for something we haven’t done before. If you have an application that you believe may be better served by something a bit customized, give us a call. An Application Engineer would be happy to discuss your application and help to determine the best solution.

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

Super Blast Safety Air Gun Improves Cleanup Process

I had the pleasure of helping a caller out with a cleanup problem not long ago.  Normally, calls involving cleanups involve a discussion of how our Industrial Housekeeping Products might replace an electric shop vacuum or sump pump, but this one was about replacing a broom…with a Super Blast Safety Air Gun.

Now, I need to mention that the folks at Compressed Air Challenge have a list of Inappropriate Uses Of Compressed Air.  Using compressed air for cleaning is on that list, and I couldn’t agree more…as a blanket statement, that is.  Of course, the last paragraph of their document makes it clear that good judgement can, and should, always rule the day: “if safety enhancements, significant productivity gains, or labor reductions will result,” they say, a compressed air solution is certainly worth considering.

That’s exactly what the caller and I did.

See, he works in an equipment service shop.  Their technicians make the company money through billable labor – the time they spend fixing their customers’ equipment.  Of course, they have to spend time on tasks that aren’t billable to jobs…like tool maintenance, paperwork, and keeping a clean shop.  A particular item from a shop audit that caught his attention was the amount of time spent sweeping the floor in the welding area.  Not only did slag & dust get all over the floor out in the open, it accumulated under tables and behind the welding machines themselves.  This meant that technicians had to get down on their hands & knees, and reach brooms under those tables.  Not only was this cumbersome; it wasn’t even 100% effective…when replacing a machine recently, they discovered a surprising amount of debris in a “blind spot” that the broom just couldn’t reach.

After a discussion of the engineered Super Air Nozzles that are available on the Super Blast Safety Air Guns, the caller liked the idea of the Model 1213-7-3.  The hard hitting, tight air flow pattern of the Super Air Nozzle Cluster at the end of a 3 foot extension gave the perfect combination of power & reach for his application.

Super Blast Safety Air Gun makes short work of large area cleanup.

So, at the end of the day, (literally…that’s cleanup time, right?) a task that previously took about 10 minutes for them was reduced to just under two minutes.  Of course, that doesn’t figure in the cost of the compressed air.  The Department of Energy uses a thumbrule that states it costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air.  At 98 SCFM @80psig, the Super Blast Safety Air Gun’s Cluster DOES use a decent amount of compressed air, so we did the math:

98 SCFM X 2 minutes X $0.25/1,000 SCF =   $0.049

We didn’t need to get in to payroll records, employee benefit packages, etc., to realize that an 80% reduction in labor, improved cleanup (air reaches where the brooms couldn’t,) and worker satisfaction (no more crawling along the floor beside the tables) was worth a nickel a day.

The Super Blast Safety Air Gun can be fitted with a variety of Super Air Nozzles, from our Model 1112 3/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (4.5lbf at 12″) , to our Model 1120 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (23lbf at 12″).

As an Application Engineer, I’m always looking for the best ways to apply our products, and quantify the benefits.  If you call me to discuss an application and the math doesn’t prove it out, I’ll let you know.  If you have a task you’re considering a compressed air solution for, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles Serve a Variety of Applications

EXAIR’s line of 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles are rugged, efficient, and ideal for applications that require a wide forceful stream of airflow. The patented design utilizes a special shim to maintain the critical position of the component parts. The result is a laminar, high velocity blast of air with minimum air consumption and sound level.

The Flat Super Air Nozzles are available in a wide range of configurations. With both the 1” and 2” sizes you have the ability to select either Zinc Aluminum alloy or Type 316 Stainless Steel for higher temperature or corrosive applications. They’re also available installed at the end of our Safety Air Guns. The 1” Flat Super Air Nozzles are ideal for our VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun while the 2” is suitable on either our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun or the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun. With extensions ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields also available, you have the ability to tailor a blowoff gun to your exact application. Since the design of the nozzle prevents any chance for it to be dead-ended, all configurations will be compliant with OSHA directive 29 CFR 1910.242(b). This means you’re able to operate at pressures in excess of 30 PSIG without risking harm to your operators.

In addition to two different sizes and materials, there’s also a wide range of shims that can be installed. Just like the Super Air Knife, the thickness of the shim installed (in addition to the input compressed air pressure) will dictate the force and flow through the nozzle. For both the 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles, shim thicknesses are available ranging from .005”-.030”. Thicker shims will increase the force and flow, thinner shims will reduce it while also reducing the air consumption. To allow you to experiment with different flows, we make shim sets available that’ll allow you to test out a few different sizes in order to determine the best solution for your application.

EXAIR 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles can be fitted with a variety of shims for variable performance.

New to EXAIR in 2018, the Model 1144 2” Super Air Scraper is a patent pending nozzle used to remove stuck-on debris from work or machine surfaces. It incorporates a strong corrosion resistant scraper blade to add necessary leverage to allow you to get underneath and scrape away debris. The strong airflow from the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle then is able to get underneath and blow away the material. The scraper nozzle is great for applications involving the removal of tape from floors, gaskets, adhesive, labels and stickers, grease, paint and sealant. It’s also available on the end of our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with durable ¾” air extensions in lengths ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields.

You may have seen (or used) the plastic flat nozzles that come in a variety of different colors. EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzle is a safe, efficient replacement that will maintain a similar airflow pattern at a dramatically reduced operating cost. EXAIR’s flat nozzles also offer a reduced sound level compared to these styles of nozzle. Reducing sound is another directive that OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 outlines. If you’re using an unsafe nozzle in your facility, OSHA can quickly begin assessing fines for each violation. They don’t announce their visits beforehand, so make sure you do your due diligence and assess your compressed air usage yourself!

All of these possibilities are available from stock with same day shipments. EXAIR’s wide-range of solutions allow you to customize the product to your exact specifications. Stop wasting time and money replacing cheap plastic air nozzles, get yourself a nozzle that’s Built to Last by EXAIR!

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