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.
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.
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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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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