EXAIR Corporation Puts The “Safety” In Safety Air Guns

One of the most dangerous things you can do is depressurize a line full of a pressurized gas. If the charge pressure is high enough, it’s going to come roaring out, with tremendous force and velocity. Anything in its path is subject to that force & velocity. Objects small enough to become entrained in its flow can become hazardous projectiles. The noise it creates can be literally deafening. If the point of discharge is accidentally jammed against your body, the pressure can get through your skin. As if that wasn’t scary enough, the gas then has a free path inside your body…they call that an embolism, and it can kill you.

Why on earth would anyone want to do that on purpose? Well, it happens every day, in factories, businesses, and homes all over the world, when people operate compressed air operated blow off devices. Of course, there are numerous factors that can drastically reduce the risk of injury associated with compressed air blow off devices.

One of these is mandated by the government. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates the outlet pressure of any compressed air device used in industry for cleaning purposes. Keeping the outlet pressure low mitigates the risk of puncturing the skin. There are various methods of compliance with this regulation:

  • Regulate the supply pressure to less than 30psig. This absolutely complies, but it severely hampers your ability to get much done, as the air flow will be too weak to blow off anything but lightweight debris, from a smooth, dry surface, with the device pretty much right up on top of it.
  • Use a device that provides a relief path for the air flow if it was to become blocked or obstructed. EXAIR engineered Air Nozzles are designed to do this…you can supply them with higher pressures but they provide a relief path for the air, meaning they can’t be blocked or dead-ended.
Regardless of the compressed air supply pressure, the design of EXAIR Super Air Nozzles prevents a dangerous pressure from developing at the outlet.

The same regulation – OSHA 1910.242(b) – also addresses the airborne projectile problem by mandating the use of appropriate chip guarding. There are a number of ways to do this as well…chief among these is personnel protective equipment (PPE). At a minimum, you absolutely, positively should be wearing safety glasses with side shields whenever you have a blow off device in your hand (and so should anyone working near you, for that matter). If an operator is blowing off small, sharp shards, an OSHA inspector is probably going to get grumpy if they’re not wearing a full face shield, long sleeves, and maybe even a durable apron. Alternately, the blow off device could also be fitted with guarding as well…something like the Chip Shields that are available for most EXAIR Safety Air Guns. These polycarbonate dish-shaped shields fit on a rigid extension between the Safety Air Gun and the Super Air Nozzle, and can be positioned at an optimal distance to keep solid debris and liquid being blown off away from the operator.

Chip Shields are available for most EXAIR Safety Air Guns (left to right): VariBlast Precision & Compact, Soft Grip, and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns…
…and others. These are just a few examples of blow off devices that can be successfully fitted with an EXAIR Chip Shield.

Another OSHA Standard – 1910.95(a) is there to protect operators against that literally deafening roar associated with unregulated discharge of compressed air. While cross-drilled nozzles (most easily seen in the lower left hand image above) provide a relief path to keep the outlet pressure at a safe level if they’re dead-ended, they’re still for all intents & purposes, an open-ended blow off…and quite loud. EXAIR Super Air Nozzles reduce the sound level of their air flow by design…the entrained air (which makes them so efficient) also forms a lower velocity barrier layer in the flow, which makes them extraordinarily quiet. In fact, all EXAIR Super Air Nozzles except our largest High Force models comply with OSHA limits for 8 hour noise exposure limits. Most callers that we talk to about applications for those are in areas where hearing protection is mandated anyway…if you need more than 4 pounds of blowing force, you’re probably wearing ear plugs already.

If you use compressed air for cleaning, drying, blow off, etc., you really need to do it safely, and in compliance with published & established safety standards. OSHA WILL fine you otherwise, and, even worse, someone could get hurt. EXAIR Corporation is devoted to helping you get the most out of your compressed air usage, and safe use is key to that. If you have any questions about it, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Dead Serious About Dead End Pressure and Chip Guarding – OSHA 1910.242(b)

Compressed air is a very versatile utility that can be used for applications in cooling products to cleaning off workspaces and products. That is where OSHA 1910.242(b) comes into play; this OSHA standard states that compressed air used for cleaning shall not be used except were reduced to less than 30 psi and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. This standard is in place because in the event a dead end occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice can potentially force the high pressure air into someone’s bloodstream and cause an air embolism, which if left untreated can impede the flow of blood in the body and lead to a fatality.

Keeping that in mind there are two ways you can go about these cleaning applications and still stay in compliance with the OSHA standard. The first way is to regulate the air pressure in your pipe down to below 30 psig. But for the majority of applications this is not an effective solution as pressure does equate to the amount of force that can be produced from the system. The second solution is to use a nozzle that is engineered in a way the it cannot be dead ended. This means that the nozzle is designed in a way that no matter how hard you try the air coming out of the nozzle will be ejected into the atmosphere and not through skin.

The fins of the Super Air Nozzle allow air to escape and prevent dead-ending the nozzle.

Take EXAIR’s Air Nozzles for example, the fins and orifice placement are designed in a way that allows air escape air into the atmosphere. Once air has exited an orifice into atmospheric conditions the pressure becomes 0 psig but retains the velocity and higher volume from the higher compressed air inlet pressure which produces force.

Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air is fitted with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle. We can also supply it with a Rigid Extension and Chip Shield (right).

In addition, OSHA 1910.242(b) also talks about the use of effective chip guarding, which simply means some method or equipment shall be installed that prevents particles from flying back and hitting the operator. If you look EXAIR’s Safety air guns you will notice that we offer Chip Shields. By simply adding “-CS” to the end of a part number for a Safety Air Gun you can help prevent injuries from flying particles in blow off applications.

If you have any questions or want more information on compressed air safety and OSHA related standards. Give us a call, we have a team of application engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation.  We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics.  Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can.  Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.

We pay attention to these…

…so we don’t ever have to use this.

OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. (emphasis mine)  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part:  the EXAIR Chip Shield.

Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well.  Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle.  It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it.  They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it.  We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.

We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)

Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.)  If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Not All Compressed Air Guns Are The Same

If you work in an industrial plant or manufacturing environment, chances are you use some type of compressed air gun for cleaning parts, work areas, etc. Many air guns purchased through large industrial suppliers are a common choice due to the cost of the gun but as the saying goes – “you get what you pay for”. These types of guns may be cheap to purchase but they are also made cheap and have parts that can break easily, like the trigger or nozzle. In many cases, the nozzles on these guns are also in violation of OSHA requirements, producing dangerous discharge pressures and loud noise levels, which can lead to costly fines or potentially deadly injuries.

EXAIR offers 5 different styles of Safety Air Guns that not only eliminate these concerns, but also provide a more efficient operation, which can reduce energy costs. All of our Safety Air Guns are fitted with our engineered Air Nozzles  which meet OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for 30 PSI dead end pressure, as they provide a relief or safe path for the air to exit if the nozzle were to be blocked or pressed against an operator’s body so the exiting air pressure will never reach 30 PSIG. They are also engineered to entrain surrounding air across the profile of the nozzle, which produces a smoother airflow, ultimately reducing wind shear, resulting in much lower sound levels, meeting OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

 

 

The Precision Safety Air Gun body is made of a durable high impact, glass reinforced nylon, providing for a lightweight, ergonomic operation. These guns feature a curved extension, ideal for delivering a powerful stream of air in hard to reach areas, like clearing debris from drilled holes. All of the nozzles used with these units are either 316ss construction for durable, corrosion resistance or PEEK plastic for non-marring applications. The air inlet is 1/4 FNPT and there is a convenient hanger available for safe storage.

 

 

 

Our NEW VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are ideal for light to medium duty processes, featuring a variable flow trigger to achieve different force levels ranging from 2.0 ounces up to 1 pound, depending on the nozzle. The body is cast aluminum and there are (2) 1/4 FNPT air inlets available, 1 on the bottom and 1 on the back of the gun, as well as a storage hanger, for easy installation. Nozzles are available in zinc aluminum alloy, 303ss, 316ss and PEEK plastic. These guns are available with aluminum extensions from 6″ up to 72″.

 

 

The Soft Grip Safety Air Guns are commonly used in long-term use applications as they feature a comfortable grip and long trigger which helps to reduce hand and finger fatigue. The cast aluminum construction is well suited for more rugged environments and again, features a hanger hook. These guns can be fitted with aluminum, stainless steel or PEEK plastic to meet the demands of a variety of applications and are available with 6″ – 72″ aluminum extensions for extra reach or Flexible Stay Set Hoses , allowing the user to aim the airflow to a specific target area. The air inlets for these guns are going to be 1/4 FNPT.

 

 

 

EXAIR’s Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns deliver higher force and flows than other air guns, as these units feature a 3/8 FNPT air inlet, which maximizes the compressed air flow to the engineered Super Air Nozzle. Like the Soft Grip, the durable cast aluminum body is designed for use in tough industrial processes, and the ergonomic and comfortable trigger are ideal for hours of use. Aluminum extension are available, again in lengths from 6″ up to 72″, but feature a larger diameter for optimal flow and superior durability.

 

The Precision, VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns are ALL available with an optional, polycarbonate Chip Shield to protect personnel from flying chips and debris, further meeting OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for the safe use of compressed air.

 

Lastly we offer our Super Blast Safety Air Guns. The Super Blast Safety Air Guns are ideal for wide area blowoff, cooling or drying a part, as well as long distances. They feature a comfortable foam grip and spring loaded valve that will shut off the airflow if the gun is dropped. These units use our larger Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Nozzle Clusters, providing forces levels from 3.2 lbs. up to 23 lbs. Depending on which nozzle is fitted on the assembly, air inlets will range from 3/8 FNPT up to 1-1/4 FNPT. Aluminum extensions are available in 36″ or 72″ lengths.

 

 

For help selecting the best product to fit your particular application, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN