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.
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 guardingand 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.
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.
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.
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EXAR’s VariBlast® Compact Safety Air Guns are small and lightweight air guns capable of handling the toughest of jobs. With its variable flow trigger being its greatest design feature, it can take on small jobs and even big ones! This means you can get different flow and force out of the same nozzle by just adjusting the amount you pull the trigger.
The VariBlast Safety Air Gun, when outfitted with an EXAIR nozzle is OSHA safe and CE compliant.
The VariBlast can also be customized by adding one of our many 1/8 NPT engineered air nozzles, a chip shield and even an extension pipe up to 72″ long.
The VariBlast is easy to rebuild, every wear item is available in the 902001 rebuild kit. These parts can be used to rebuild any VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun that, through use, has become worn. See this video to see how easy it is to rebuild this gun, and make it feel brand new!
If you have questions about the VariBlast or to discuss any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you.
EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983. In that time, we have engineered many new products for new and existing markets that had better efficiency, versatility, and effectiveness. To gauge how a new product is received by your peers, we like to send them to different committees for evaluations. This year, we sent our VariBlast Safety Air Gun to Plant Engineering to compete against other new products in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries. In the compressed air category, the EXAIR VariBlast Safety Air Gun won the Silver Award at the Plant Engineering Product of the Year event.
How was EXAIR able to achieve such a prestigious award? Well, let me tell you how our newest safety air gun was able to receive this award. I will discuss the features and benefits with the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, so you can decide for yourself.
To start, the unique feature that sets the VariBlast apart from other small air guns is the force variability. Unlike the “all or nothing” blowing forces with most air guns, this valve is designed to control the opening to allow for a variable force with the same nozzle. This will help you to not “overuse” your compressed air blowing. The VariBlast Safety Air Gun is made from a durable cast aluminum construction for tough industrial use. It has a rugged ergonomic grip with a user-friendly trigger. The compressed air inlets are located in two different positions to best fit your application. They have an easy storage handle to hang the Safety Air Gun nearby. In addition to the VariBlast Safety Air Gun, EXAIR has options to enhance the features and benefits. Here is a list of them:
Air Nozzles can make or break an air gun in safe, efficient and effective use. EXAIR Air Nozzles are OSHA compliant for noise and dead-end pressure. We offer nine different air nozzles with the VariBlast Safety Air Gun; making it very effective for a wide range of applications.
OSHA 1910.242(b) requires chip guarding when compressed air is used for cleaning. EXAIR offers Chip Shields with the VariBlast Safety Air Guns to meet this requirement. They are made from a polycarbonate disc which is practically unbreakable. It protects the operator from any blow back of shavings and coolant. They come standard with a durable rubber grommet that squeezes onto the extensions and can be adjusted for maximize protection.
For those far away targets and hard-to-reach areas, EXAIR offers aluminum extension pipes to attach to the VariBlast Safety Air Guns. They can range from 6” (15 cm) to 72” (183 cm) in length. This light-weight and durable material allows for easy handling when reaching high above your head or spanning across unsafe areas. With the EXAIR air nozzles at the end, the blowing force is not sacrificed as the back pressure will create a high velocity air stream.
To get the proper amount of compressed air from the piping system to the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR offers Coiled Hoses. They are made of a durable abrasion-resistant nylon material that is 12 feet long (3.6 meters). They have swivel fittings to allow for easy uncoiling, and a spring strain relief to keep the hose from kinking at the ends. The coiled design makes it easy to reach around the work area and retract back to the substation. This will help to keep the hose off the ground where potential dangers could occur.
To improve the use of the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR offers a series of filters and regulators. The Filter Separators will remove dirty particles and liquid water from the compressed air that can affect the performance as well as contaminate the surface that you are cleaning. The Regulators are used to control the amount of air pressure used by the VariBlast Safety Air Gun; making them even more efficient. The idea for compressed air savings is to use the least amount of compressed air to do the job. The combination of a filter and regulator will allow you to control the proper amount of clean dry air to be used.
Not all air guns are the same. There should be a check list created prior to purchasing an air gun. Is it safe, efficient, quiet, durable, ergonomic, and flexible? The VariBlast Safety Air Guns meet every item on that list. This is why the EXAIR VariBlast Safety Air Gun was awarded the Silver award by Plant Engineering. If your current air gun does not meet these requirements, you may want to try the VariBlast Safety Air Gun. You will not be disappointed. If you are within the U.S. or Canada, we do offer a 30-day unconditional guarantee to try them out.
One of the easiest ways to find out if your compressed air guns are safe for operation is by looking at the nozzle. First, take your current compressed air gun and disconnect it from the compressed air line. Second, look directly into the end of the nozzle where the air comes out. If you can see the inside of the nozzle, then your air gun or blow-off device is unsafe. Nine out of ten compressed air guns are considered to be dangerous. In this blog, I will go through the dangers and violations of compressed air guns and nozzles that are very common in the market place.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is an organization that enforces standards for safe and healthy working environments. They have training, outreach programs, and educational assistance for manufacturing plant. But, they will also enforce these standards with heavy fines for violations. The two most common violations with compressed air guns and nozzles are 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure/chip shielding and 29CFR 1910.65(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure. If you are unfortunate in receiving an audit, the OSHA agent will target your compressed air guns and blow-off devices.
Here is the first example of a nozzle that I would like to discuss. As you can see, there is only one opening where the air can come out from the nozzle. Other types of nozzles that would fall into this category will include copper pipes, extensions, or worn nozzles. They are dangerous as the compressed air cannot escape if it is blocked by your skin. An air embolism could occur within the body which can cause bodily harm or death. If operated above 30 PSIG (2 bar), these nozzles would violate the OSHA 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure. This is a hazard which can be avoided by using EXAIR Super Air Nozzles and Safety Air Guns. The nozzles are designed to utilize fins to allow air to escape and not penetrate your skin. With EXAIR products, you will not violate this standard even if you go above the 30 PSIG (2 bar).
To counteract the dead-end pressure violation, some nozzle manufacturers created a hole through the side of the nozzle (Reference photo below). This will allow for the compressed air to escape, but, now the issue is noise level. With an “open” section in the nozzle, the compressed air is very turbulent and very loud. They state that 70% to 80% of all hearing loss within a manufacturing plant is caused by compressed air. For this, OSHA 29CFR 1910.65(a) was created to show the maximum allowable noise exposure. This chart shows the time and noise limits before requiring hearing protection. The EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are designed to have laminar flow which is very quiet. With our typical Safety Air Gun, model 1210, the sound level is only 74 dBA; well under the noise exposure limit for 8 hours.
Why do I bring these points up? Because safety is everyone’s responsibility. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, has an overview of how to handle hazards in the workplace. They call it the Hierarchy of Controls (click). This is a means to best protect workers from dangers. The most effective way is by eliminating the hazard or substituting the hazard. The least effective way is with Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. For your unsafe compressed air nozzles and guns, EXAIR can help by substituting the hazardous air gun and nozzle with an engineered solution designed with safety in mind.
In my opening statement, I explained a quick and easy method to determine if your compressed air guns are dangerous. To keep your company compliant and safe, EXAIR offers a variety of different types of nozzles and Safety Air Guns to best fit your requirement. If you find that you are using hazardous blowing equipment, you can contact an Application Engineer to find a safe and effective alternative.