I have seen over the years where OSHA inspectors has visited manufacturing plants for violations. One of the more common areas that they review are compressed air guns because many of them are very dangerous for Dead-End pressure and noise levels. All of EXAIR Safety Air Guns are OSHA compliant. But there is an additional OSHA guideline 1910.242(b) that deals with Chip guarding and shields for cleaning purposes. With these types of applications, EXAIR offers Chip Shields; either as an option with our Safety Air Guns; or as Chip Shields only, or as a Chip Shield kit. In this video, I will go over the Chip Shield Kits that will add a chip shield to your existing EXAIR Safety Air Gun.
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.
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.
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
The words “safety” and “convenience” are rarely synonymous. Many times, in fact, they are seemingly at odds with one other:
- Decades of data absolutely prove the importance of wearing a seat belt in a motor vehicle. In the dead of winter, when I’m wearing a heavy coat and gloves, it can be cumbersome to pull that belt across me and fasten it without removing those gloves that are protecting my sensitive hands from the brutal cold. I do it anyway, and so should you.
- I don’t own a boat, but I have friends that do, and I find it hard to pass up an invitation to spend a nice summer afternoon water skiing, tubing, or just cruising down the river. Life vests on a hot sunny day are perhaps just as cumbersome as seat belts. No matter how good you can swim, though, there’s a big difference between jumping in the water for a refreshing dip and being thrown into the water after a collision with an unseen object. If you’re unconscious, or even just disoriented, that vest will save your life.
- If you work in an area where you’re supposed to wear safety glasses (even if they fog up) or ear plugs (actually, if they’re uncomfortable, you have the wrong ones…or you’re using them wrong), they’re a miniscule inconvenience compared to losing your sight or your hearing.
Notice I said “seemingly at odds” above, because safety doesn’t HAVE to be inconvenient. I could trade my old bulky insulated gloves for a newer pair made of thinner material that still have decent insulation. People who boat regularly will have properly sized life vests (instead of one-size-fits-most) with snap buckles (instead of pull straps). There are a number of different styles of safety glasses and anti-fogging treatments for the lenses, for long term use in most any environment. Likewise for hearing protection – whether you like the headset-style that covers the ears, or plugs that insert into your ear canals, there are comfortable designs, and some neat technology that cancels harmful sound frequencies so you can even carry on a conversation, even in a loud environment.
EXAIR Corporation has a long history of adding convenience to compressed air use, while remaining well within the confines of safety (that’s something we don’t cut corners on in our products, operations, or company culture) and efficiency. We’ve got accessories, add-ons, tools, etc., for most of our product lines. It’s quite prevalent in our Safety Air Guns product line, and for good reason – there are a number of areas where some flexibility regarding the use of handheld tools not only add convenience, but also contribute even further to their safe use. Consider:
- Reach. When blowoff needs to happen inside, behind, under, or over an obstruction, extensions are available for any EXAIR Safety Air Gun, so operators can keep their hands free of the obstruction, especially if it’s hot, sharp (or otherwise potentially harmful) or just dirty or wet.
- VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns have short (~4″) “gooseneck” extensions, but can also be fitted with 12″ or 20″ Extensions, made of corrosion resistant 316 Stainless Steel.
- Direct attachment of an Air Nozzle puts the “Compact” in the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun. If additional reach is desired, though, we offer Rigid Aluminum Extensions in lengths from 6″ to 72″ long. These are also available for any Soft Grip or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun as well.
- Back Blow Safety Air Guns are actually made to reach inside pipe, tube, hose, channels, etc.
- The Atto Back Blow Air Nozzle can be installed with a 6″ or 12″ extension on a VariBlast Compact, or Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.
- 1/4 NPT Back Blow Air Nozzles can be fitted to our Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns with 6″ to 24″ Rigid Aluminum Extensions.
- Model 1219SS Super Blast Back Blow Air Gun comes with the 1 NPT Back Blow Nozzle. It’s just a little over a foot long, but can also be supplied with a 3ft or 6ft Aluminum Extension.
- Super Blast Safety Air Guns fitted with High Force Super Air Nozzles or Clusters also have optional 3ft or 6ft Rigid Aluminum Extensions.
- Cleanliness. While they’re usually specified to comply with OSHA regulations regarding proper chip guarding while using compressed air for cleaning, Chip Shields also prevent the nuisance of getting yourself dirty or wet from blown off debris. They’re available on all our compressed Air Blow Guns except for the Super Blast models.
- Reach, part 2. A particularly nifty little option on the Soft Grip Safety Air Guns is the ability to use a Stay Set Hose (as opposed to a Rigid Extension) for extra reach. Let’s say you have to get back to, and behind, an obstruction for blowoff. Simply bend the end of the Stay Set Hose to the angle required, and you’re in business! They come in lengths from 6″ to 36″ long.
- Stubborn debris. Among the new products that EXAIR has introduced over the past few years, this one is my personal favorite: the Soft Grip Super Air Scraper. We took our 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle and put a steel scraper blade on it, which assists the air flow by scraping (as the name implies) caulk, gaskets, sealants, tape, paint, etc., off the surface, as the air flow blows it away! It’s the perfect “one-two punch” for applications like these.
If you already have serviceable air guns that operators are used to and comfortable with (first law of human nature is “change is bad,” right?), all of our Super Air Nozzles have NPT threads…you may only be an adapter away from installing them on your existing devices. Speaking of adapters, we also stock a number of the “usual suspects” – an EXAIR Application Engineer can help you determine what your air guns’ existing threads are.
EXAIR Corporation offers a broad selection of quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products, and one of the most comprehensive selections of handheld solutions in the industry. Whatever your need for a Safety Air Gun is, we most likely have you covered. Call me; let’s talk.
Russ Bowman, CCASS
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.
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.
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.