OSHA 29 CFR 1910.15(a) – Occupational Noise Exposure Limits

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is a 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).

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.

OSHA Chart

Hearing loss can occur in as little as 30 minutes when exposed to sound levels 110 dBA or greater. Operators have a tendency not to use PPE as directed, if an OSHA inspector comes to your facility and notices that the sound levels exceed the maximum allowable level without protection hefty fines will be soon to follow. In this example from the United States Department of Labor, a company was fined a total of $143,000 for failing to protect their employees.

SoundMeter_new_nist225
Model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter

In order to identify the places or processes in your facility that are causing the problems, you’ll need a tool to measure the sound level. EXAIR’s easy to use Digital Sound Level Meter allows you to measure and monitor the sound level pressure in a wide variety of industrial environments. The source of the loud noise can then be identified and isolated so that corrective action can be taken. For compressed air related noise, EXAIR manufactures a wide variety of engineered compressed air products that can reduce the sound level dramatically. In many cases, EXAIR products are capable of reducing noise levels by as much as 10 dBA. Since the dBA scale is logarithmic, this equates to cutting the sound level in half!

sound-level-comparison
Drilled pipes and open ended tubes are the common culprit for excessive noise levels. Replacing them with an engineered solution often eliminates the need for hearing protection.

If there’s processes within your facility that are above these limits and you’d like to eliminate relying on proper PPE, give an Application Engineer a call. We’ll help walk you through the selection process and make sure that when the OSHA inspector comes knocking you’re prepared!

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

Standards, Compliance, And You. And EXAIR.

I’m pretty impressed with the number of safety features my car has. Aside from the literal lifesaving functions like seat belts and air bags, it’s got anti-lock brakes…if you’ve ever had to counter-steer out of a skid on an icy road, you will appreciate the value of this for sure.  Those are just some of the ones I’m keenly aware of – the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards comprise dozens of regulations in three categories: crash avoidance, crashworthiness, and post-crash survivability.  None of these prevent me from operating my vehicle at an unsafe rate of speed…an expensive reality that an Ohio State Highway Patrolman dutifully reminded me of last Sunday afternoon.

Likewise, there are many regulations to ensure safety and prevent hazards of all kinds in industry, administered by a host of agencies that are either subordinates of, or accountable to, the federal government.  When you manufacture products that are used with high energy sources (compressed air or high voltage electricity,) a strong commitment to safety is not negotiable.  So, at EXAIR, we commit considerable resources towards the best engineering and manufacturing practices to make our products as safe as possible.  That includes compliance with a number of standards and certifications:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.  Their mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”  They are a regulatory body in the truest sense, in that they don’t offer certification or approval of products, processes, etc.; they publish guidelines and standards for manufacturers and users to comply with.  OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), for instance, limits the downstream pressure of a compressed air operated device used for cleaning purposes to 30psi. Now, you can regulate the supply pressure to meet this, but that also limits the effectiveness of the air flow generated.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are all designed and manufactured to be in compliance with this standard, at any supply pressure.  Take, for example, our Super Air Nozzles:

Because none of our products can be dead-ended, there’s always a relief path preventing the downstream pressure from exceeding that level.

OSHA also has Standard 1910.95(a), that sets limits for maximum allowable noise exposure.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, with the exception of some our largest and most power Super Air Nozzles (which aren’t normally used in areas that don’t already require hearing protection anyway) meet the 8-hour exposure limits of this standard.

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.

CE marking indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold withing the European Economic Area.  Unlike OSHA standards, responsibility for CE marking falls solely with the seller of the product – a CE marked product has been tested and certified to have been made in such a way to meet safety & quality benchmarks specified for that type of product.  All EXAIR products that are defined under applicable directives have been tested according to these standards, and carry the CE mark.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, is another standard borne from the European Union, and is geared towards public & workplace safety by restricting the use of hazardous materials in the manufacture of electronic & electrical equipment.  Since its inception in 2006, similar standards have been vigorously adopted around the globe.  Electrical portions of EXAIR’s Static Eliminators, EFC Electronic Flow Controls, ETC Electronic Temperature Controls, Digital Flowmeters, Solenoid Valves, and Thermostats all comply with the RoHS Directive.

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act doesn’t address a concern for product users, but rather a particularly troubling human rights issue – Conflict Minerals.  For almost two decades, trade in tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been used by some very bad people to finance violent campaigns against their neighbors.  EXAIR thoroughly and systematically documents our supply chain compliance with this act.  We are proudly committed to our support for this effort to the world a better place for everyone…especially those in desperate circumstances beyond their control.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have been successfully implemented into a variety of uses where application- or industry-specific standards are in force.  We’re happy to work with you to determine if our products meet those standards…or can be made to meet them.  If you’ve got such an application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Safety Air Guns – Using Engineered Air Nozzles For High Performance

Inexpensive air guns can be picked up just about anywhere, and you generally get what you pay for. Most will be very noisy and waste lots of compressed air.  And many will be unsafe, violating two of OSHA’s standards put in place to protect worker safety. The first is Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) which sets limits to the maximum noise exposure, and the second is Standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b) which says that the nozzle cannot be dead-ended, or exceed a 30 PSIG pressure limit.

These guns may seem like a perfect fit for a handheld blowoff application. The truth is, the cost saved up front will easily be paid throughout the cost of ownership.  This is due to the lack of an engineered nozzle which meets and exceeds the OSHA standards mentioned above.   The “cheap” guns often have a cross drilled hole to meet or exceed the OSHA standard for dead-end pressure. While this may be true, it causes a large wind sheer which escalates noise levels to well over the allowable noise level exposure set by OSHA.  These tips sometimes offer large force outputs because they are equivalent to an open pipe.  We have publicized numerous times about how an open pipe blow off does not permit pressure to be utilized all the way to the point of blowoff, and is also a waste of energy.

In order to determine how much compressed air your current blow guns utilize, the level of noise they product, and the sound level they produce, consider taking advantage of the EXAIR Efficiency Lab.  The Efficiency Lab is a free service that you can read more about here.

An EXAIR Safety Air Gun is engineered and designed to comply both of the OSHA standards mentioned above, ensuring safe operation for company personnel.  On top of the safety designed into the guns, we also ensure all of our guns are efficient by offering only engineered nozzles on them.

EXAIR offers (4) types of Safety Air Guns – the VariBlast, the Soft Grip, the Heavy Duty, and the Super Blast.  Each type of Safety Air Gun is offered with a plethora of nozzles, as well as varying length extensions, with or without the Chip Shield.

Safety Air Guns
The VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Style of Pistol Grip Safety Air Guns
Super Blast
The Super Blast Style of Safety Air Gun

 

We invite you to try out an EXAIR Safety Air Gun, and get the free 1″ Wide Flat Super Air Nozzle as a bonus. Click here for more details about this special promotional offer.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Sound Power Level and Sound Pressure

Energy…all day (and night) long, we humans are surrounded by – and bombarded by – all kinds of energy. Sometimes, the effects are pleasant; even beneficial: the warmth of the sun’s rays (solar energy) on a nice spring day is the sure-fire cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and is also the catalyst your body needs to produce vitamin D. Good things, both. And great reasons to get outside a little more often.

Sometimes, the effects aren’t so pleasant, and they can even be harmful. Lengthy, unprotected exposure to that same wonderful sun’s rays will give you a nasty sunburn. Which can lead to skin cancer. Not good things, either. And great reasons to regularly apply sunblock, and/or limit exposure if you can.

Sound is another constant source of energy that we’re exposed to, and one we can’t simply escape by going inside. Especially if “inside” is a factory, machine shop, or a concert arena. This brings me to the first point of today’s blog: sound power.

Strictly speaking, power is energy per unit time, and can be applied to energy generation (like how much HP an engine generates as it runs) or energy consumption (like how much HP a motor uses as it turns its shaft) For discussions of sound, though, sound power level is applied to the generation end. This is what we mean when we talk about how much sound is made by a punch press, a machine tool, or a rock band’s sound system.

Sound pressure, in contrast, is a measure of the sound power’s intensity at the target’s (e.g., your ear’s) distance from the source. The farther away you get from the sound’s generation, the lower the sound pressure will be. But the sound power didn’t change.

Just like the power made by an engine and used by a motor are both defined in the same units – usually horsepower or watts – sound power level (e.g. generation) and sound pressure (e.g. “use” by your ears) use the same unit of measure: the decibel.  The big difference, though, is that while power levels of machinery in motion are linear in scale, sound power level and pressure scales are logarithmic.  And that’s where the math can get kind of challenging.  But if you’re up for it, let’s look at how you calculate sound power level:

Sound Power Level Equation

Where:

Wis reference power (in Watts,) normally considered to be 10-12 W, which is the lowest sound perceptible to the human ear under ideal conditions, and

W is the published sound power of the device (in Watts.)

That’s going to give you the sound power level, in decibels, being generated by the sound source.  To calculate the sound pressure level:

Sound Power Level to Sound Pressure Equation

Where:

Lis the sound power level…see above, and

A is the surface area at a given distance.  If the sound is emitted equally in all directions, we can use the formula for hemispheric area, 2πrwhere r=distance from source to calculate the area.

These formulas ignore any effects from the acoustic qualities of the space in which the sound is occurring.  Many factors will affect this, such as how much sound energy the walls and ceiling will absorb or reflect.  This is determined by the material(s) of construction, the height of the ceiling, etc.

These formulas may help you get a “big picture” idea of the sound levels you might expect in applications where the input data is available.  Aside from that, they certainly put into perspective the importance of hearing protection when an analysis reveals higher levels.  OSHA puts the following limits on personnel exposure to certain noise levels:

Working in areas that exceed these levels will require hearing protection.

EXAIR’s line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered, designed, and manufactured with efficiency, safety, and noise reduction in mind.  If you’d like to talk about how we can help protect you and your folks’ hearing, call us.

 

EXAIR Leads the Way with Product Standards

Standards seem to continually get introduced and updated. There is an ever increasing number of local, regional, federal, and even global standards to comply with.  We pay close attention to these standards and have the largest number of standards upon our products.

meets or exceeds oshaThe standards the every EXAIR product meets or exceeds are the OSHA standards for dead-end pressure as well as allowable noise level exposure.  The dead-end pressure directive is OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.242 (b).  The standard refers to the fact that compressed air can be dangerous when the outlet pressure of a hole, hose or copper tube is higher than 30 psig (2 BAR).  In the event the opening is blocked by a hand or other body part, air may enter the bloodstream through the skin, resulting in a serious injury.  All of the compressed air products manufactured by EXAIR have been designed for safety.  All are safe to be supplied with higher pressure than 30 psig and still meet or exceed the OSHA standard.

The OSHA standard 29 CFR – 191.95 (a) refers to the maximum allowable noise exposure that an operator is permitted to be exposed to for a given period of time.   The chart of allowable exposure times is shown below.   All EXAIR products are engineered to create the minimum amount of noise while efficiently utilizing compressed air.   Many times blow offs are cross drilled to permit air to escape in order to meet the OSHA standard for dead end pressure, this process increases the noise level generated by that blow off considerably.

OSHA Noise Level

One of the most stringent compliance that EXAIR has upon its products is the UL/CUL listings and recognition.  All EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are UL listed, we were the first to insure your electrical cabinet’s NEMA integrity remained by putting our Cabinet Cooler systems to the UL test. This means that the Underwriters Laboratories have deemed these products safe for operation throughout the US and Canada per their standards that are applicable for each of the product groups.   The products undergo numerous tests and scenarios to ensure that an operator will be safe during the normal operation of the units.   The tests for the Cabinet Cooler Systems includes environmental exposure for the given NEMA type of the enclosure along with many other tests.  The Static Eliminator Power Supplies are also UL listed.

cULlistedcULrecognized

CE is another standard which EXAIR pays great attention to to meet or exceed. CE is a standard that is normally preferred when dealing with countries outside of the US but is gaining popularity within the states as well.  CE being a European standard actually stands for a french phrase, “Confrmité Eurpéene” which is translated to “European Conformity”.  Any EXAIR product displaying the CE mark conforms where there are applicable directives.CE

The RoHS directive is targeted on heavy metals that are generally found within electronics.  Substances like Mercury, Lead, Polybrominated biphenyls, Cadmium, or Hexavalent chromium.  In order to meet the RoHs directive a product must have 100 parts per million or less of mercury and for other substances there must be less than 0.01% of the substance by weight in a raw homogeneous materials level. All EXAIR products which are electronic or contain electronic devices are compliant to the 2002/95/EC RoHS directive, also including the amendment outlined in the European Commission decision L 214/65.  This includes all EXAIR Static Eliminators, Electronic Flow Control, and Electronic Temperature Control products.ROHS_Vector

EXAIR maintains records to be sure our supply chain is providing product which meets the conflict mineral free guidelines of the Dodd-Frank Act.  EXAIR supports Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and we are committed to compliance with the conflict minerals rule in order to curb the illicit trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the DRC region. EXAIR is using the CMRT 3.02 template to document our supply chain and commitment to conflict free products. When requested we will even provide the needed forms to support our customer’s efforts in complying with the Dodd-Frank Act.

conflictfree

REACH, is another European Community Regulation this time on chemicals and their safe use.  REACH is targeted to ensure personnel and environmental health by identifying the intrinsic properties of chemical substances easily.  REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances and was written into law in 2007. EXAIR products are not required to be registered per Title II, Article 7, paragraph 1  of the legislation since they do not contain substances that are intentionally released.   This is to ensure compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 Title I, Article 3, paragraph 3, the European Union requires registration of chemicals and substances imported into the EU to ensure a high level of protection of human health and environment.

Reach

 

To conclude, when there is a safety audit, safe sourcing directive or some other form of standard/conformance that you need to meet, consider EXAIR compressed air products. Please contact us to find out if we can help you meet or exceed those standards.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Making Safety A Priority

Everyone has heard the term “idiot-proof,” and most of us know what a misnomer it is. No matter how hard we try to ensure that nothing can go wrong with a plan, there’s always going to be that possibility. And when it does, it’s frequently going to be traceable back to human error. Of course, material failures happen, and they can be darn near impossible to predict…anyone who’s ever owned an automobile for any length of time surely knows this.

Sometimes, not keeping up with regular maintenance is to blame...
Sometimes, not keeping up with regular maintenance is to blame…
...but, it can happen to anyone, it seems.
…but, it can happen to anyone, it seems.

In the Navy, we had another term, which, curiously, none of us ever regarded as derogatory: “sailor-proof.” It, of course, meant the same thing, and its use always provoked the same warning about how difficult it was to achieve. Of course, our training, attention to detail, and self-preservation instincts ensured a pretty good track record, as far as safety goes.

I was thinking about all this when I saw, in recent news, that a British submarine shipyard had trapped two workers inside a ballast tank by accident. When banging on the hull with a tool didn’t attract anyone’s attention, one of them was able to find a spot, near the top of the tank, where his cell phone got reception and was able to call for help.

At EXAIR, we’re dedicated to safety. Not only in providing Intelligent Compressed Air Products that comply with OSHA standards in regard to use for cleaning (1910.242(b)) – and noise levels (1910.95(a)), but also in the way we do business here. We have regular “all hands” training on subjects such as hazard communication & forklift safety. We’ve got ready access to Safety Data Sheets on any product used in the shop. Clear and visible signs indicate where personal protective gear (i.e. safety glasses, ear plugs, etc.) are required. Fork lift paths are clearly defined, and nobody operates one without current and specific certification. I’ve said it before and I’m proud to say it again: Getting hurt on the job is the last thing someone has to worry about here, because safety is the first thing everybody is thinking about.

Is your company paying that kind of attention to safety? If you use compressed air products for cleaning, blow off, cooling, etc., we’ll be happy to discuss that aspect with you, just to make sure. Give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Aston Martin Vantage S broken down image courtesy Paul Townsend. Creative Commons License.

busted image courtesy Jenny oh. Creative Commons License.

A (Sample) Lexicon For Compressed Air

Every industry and different technical subject matter comes with it’s own lexicon of terms or vocabulary words.  More often than not, when speaking to an Application Engineer here at EXAIR you are going to hear words within our lexicon. The list I have compiled below is merely a sampling to help translate some terms that we forget not everyone knows.  Some of these are merely acronyms that get thrown around a good amount.

SCFM – Standard Cubic Feet per Minute – This is the unit we use to represent the volumetric flow rate of compressed gas that has already been corrected to standardized conditions of pressure and temperature.

PSIG – Pounds per square inch gauge – This is the unit which we use to represent the operating inlet pressure of the device.  When requesting this, we generally are looking for a pressure gauge to be installed directly on the inlet to the device with no other form of restrictions between the two.  For the most part, catalog consumption values are given in SCFM at 80 psig.  The main exception to that rule are the Vortex Tube based products.

Compressed Air – This is a utility that most industrial manufacturing facilities have available to them.   It is regular, atmospheric air which has been compressed by an air compressor to a higher pressure than atmospheric.  Generally speaking, compressed air systems will be at a range of 85-120 psig.

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This is the main federal agency that enforces two of the major conformance standards that EXAIR products meet or exceed.

29 CFR- 1910.95 (a) – Maximum allowable noise level exposure.  The great majority of EXAIR products meet or exceed this safety standard, our largest Super Air Nozzles
1910.242 (b) – This is the standard which states compressed air blow off devices cannot exceed 30 psig of dead end pressure.  This means, if the exit point of the air can be blocked the operating pressure must be below 30 psig.  The reason for this standard is to prevent air embolism which can be fatal.  All EXAIR products meet or exceed this standard by having multiple orifice discharge.

Coanda Effect – This is the effect that numerous EXAIR products utilize to amplify and entrain ambient air.   The Coanda effect is when a fluid jet (stream of compressed air) tends to be attracted to a nearby surface.  This principle was found by a Romanian aerodynamics pioneer, Henri Coandᾰ.  The picture below shows a Super Air Amplifier blowing a foam ball into the air and suspending it due to the Coanda effect on the surface of the ball.

A Super Air Amplifier's air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.
A Super Air Amplifier’s air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.

Rigid Pipe or Hard Pipe – This is the term we will often use when discussing the compressed air line that can be used to support and supply certain EXAIR products.  Generally we are referring to a Schedule 40 steel pipe, Type L copper line, stainless steel tube, or any form of pressure rated hard pipe that can be used for supplying compressed air.

Plenum – the state or a space in which a gas, usually air, is contained at pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. Many of our products feature a plenum chamber. 

Again, this list is only a sample of the terminology you will hear us use when discussing compressed air applications.  If there are any other air/compressed air/fluid dynamic terms you may be unsure of, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF