Know What to Look For – Are Your Compressed Air Guns OSHA Safe?

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.

Unsafe Nozzle

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).

Safety Air Gun

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.

Unsafe Air Gun
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.

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.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR Safety Air Gun Promotion

From August 1st to September 30th, 2018, EXAIR will be giving away a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle with the purchase of any promotional VariBlast, Soft Grip, or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun.  EXAIR is stressing the importance of safety in the workplace with the EXAIR Safety Air Guns as well as the versatility of the different types of EXAIR Super Air Nozzles.

SAGpromoAD_500xsq

This promotional item, the model 1126 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, has a patented shim to blow a 1” wide stream of air to clean surfaces quickly and efficiently and is a $45.00 USD value. For more details on the Promotion, click on the photo/link above. For more information about the Flat Super Air Nozzles, click HERE.

Inexpensive air guns can be purchased just about anywhere- online, via catalogs, and through industrial supply companies. Typical quality is less than ideal – broken triggers, leaky valves – a short lifespan in an industrial setting are merely a few of the issues observed.  Most are loud and inefficient – they just blow large amounts of compressed air, and at noise levels that violate OSHA requirements.  Some may even generate dangerous dead end pressure situations that that can result in serious or fatal injuries if blocked.

EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns have been engineered and designed to eliminate these issues. They are durable for use in industrial situations and comfortable to use for extended periods of time.  With an EXAIR engineered air nozzle, each model provides top performance by entraining large volumes of surrounding air into the air-stream. Operation is assured to be safe along with low compressed air consumption and noise levels.  Due to the design, the airflow that exits the nozzle cannot be blocked, as required by OSHA Standard 29 CPR 1910.242(b).

Safety Air Guns
The EXAIR VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns

The VariBlast style of safety air gun offers variable force based on the range of trigger pull. Force can be varies, form a light breeze, to full force maximum output. This cast aluminum air gun can be fitted with any of the EXAIR 1/8 NPT engineered air nozzles.

The Soft Grip style of safety air gun  has a durable cats aluminum body suited for rugged, industrial use. The ergonomic design has a soft vinyl cover, a large trigger for easy operation, and a hanger hook for easy storage.

The Heavy Duty style of safety air gun is powerful with a durable aluminum cast body and ergonomic composite rubber grip, best suited for rugged industrial environments. Hours of fatigue free operation are possible.

With all of the Safety Air Guns styles, Chip Shields and Extension Pipes are available, from 6″ to 72″ in length.

1210-6cs
Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, with Chip Shield and 12″ Extension

With many nozzle options, from a whisper quiet 58 dBA and 2.5 SCFM of flow up to 60 SCFM and 87 dBA (still below the OSHA 8 hour noise level threshold) there is a model that will fit practically any application. Application Engineers are available by phone, email, and chat to review your specific blow off needs, and help to select the best possible solution available.

We invite to you to try out an EXAIR Safety Air Gun, and get the free 1″ Wide Flat Super Air Nozzle as a bonus.

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

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Compressed Air and Safety

Warning

Compressed air is generally considered the fourth utility in industrial, commercial and back-yard settings.  It is used to power pneumatic equipment, cleaning surfaces, conveying materials, etc.  The compressor reduces the volume inside a chamber to increase the pressure.  The compressed air typically is contained in a reservoir tank for distribution to pneumatic equipment and devices.  Since air is a compressible fluid it has stored energy; and, if not used properly, it can be hazardous.  Most people perceive compressed air as harmless, but this is untrue.  It can be very dangerous.  Here are some potential risks when using compressed air:

  1. If the air pressure against the skin becomes greater than 30 PSI, air can penetrate through the membrane and cause an embolism which could be fatal.  The term used is Dead-End pressure, any end-use nozzle or blowoff product cannot exceed 30 PSI dead-end pressure.
  2. Hearing damage can occur from exposure to loud noises from compressed air exhausting from pneumatic equipment or devices.
  3. Proper use of Safety Air Guns and Safety Air Nozzles is a must. They should not be modified or tampered with.  For example, tying the trigger on an air gun for continuous blowing or modifying the nozzle to get a different blowing pattern.
  4. Compressed air can generate high velocities which can shoot chards of debris. The accelerated fragment can injure any part of the body even from bounce-back.
  5. If the air pressure is higher than the recommended rating for the equipment, uncontrolled eruptions can occur which can send broken pieces everywhere.
  6. When air hoses or lines are laying on the floor, near pinch points, or degrades from the environment, a break can occur causing unrestrained hose “whipping”.

Some safety precautions can be followed in your area when using compressed air products.  They may seem basic, but they are commonly overlooked.

  1. Verify that all compressed air components are rated to be used for the maximum line pressure.
  2. Use shut-off valves nearby to isolate the system from the main compressed air line.
  3. Have general inspection on your compressed air system to check for pipe degradation, leaks, faulty pneumatics, etc.
  4. When you go to repair items attached to the compressed air line, make sure to use proper lockout procedures to isolate and remove the hazardous energy.
  5. Remember that compressed air is not a toy and use proper PPE when required.
  6. If any pneumatically operated product is damaged, remove it from service and either repair it or replace it.
EXAIR Products

In 1970, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, was enacted by the Department of Labor.  This organization was created “to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women”.  They created a set of laws and standards that they enforce with heavy fines and reoccurring visits if not followed.  The Department of Labor lists these laws under title 29 in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  For general industry, these safety regulations are under part 1910 of 29 CFR.  To give a few examples, 29 CFR 1910.242b gives the explanation about dead-end pressure.  Under 29 CFR 1910.95a shows the maximum allowable noise exposure.  The reason that I noted these two OSHA standards as they are commonly overlooked with Safety Air Guns, and commonly fined by OSHA for improper nozzles.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and EXAIR products can be a key.  If you would like to discuss how to improve your workplace, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.     Because hazards and fines can be detrimental to your company when it comes to compressed air safety.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo: Attention Warning Sign by Peter-LomasCreative Commons: CCO

 

 

EXAIR’s Flat Nozzles: Safe, Reliable, and Efficient

Here on the EXAIR Blog we frequently discuss dead-end pressure as explained in OSHA Standard 1910.242(b). This directive states that the when compressed air is used for cleaning purposes, the dead-ended pressure must not exceed 30 psig. When pressures greater than this occur, there is potential for an air embolism. This animation shows and explains how an air embolism can affect the body.

EXAIR’s Flat Nozzles adhere to this OSHA directive. The Flat Nozzles consist of three primary components: the body, the cap, and the shim. The thickness of the shim will dictate the flow and force through the nozzle and can be easily adjusted. The cap slightly protrudes from the body and shim, creating a gap when it is pressed up onto the skin. By ensuring that there is always an avenue for that air to escape, there is no potential for it to be dead-ended.

2fsanfam2
From top to bottom: Model 1126, 1126SS, 1122, and 1122SS

EXAIR’s flat nozzles are available in two sizes: 1” and 2”. Each size has a shim set that can be purchased for adjusting both the flow and force from the nozzle. These nozzles are available in both zinc/aluminum alloy as well as 316 grade Stainless Steel. They can be used by themselves, installed on our Safety Air Guns, or in conjunction with our Stay Set Hoses that allow for easy re-positioning.

You may have seen (or used) the plastic flat nozzles that come in a variety of different colors. EXAIR’s flat nozzle is a safe, efficient, and more robust replacement that will maintain a similar airflow pattern at a dramatically reduced operating cost. Where plastic nozzles may become damaged or break off, the rigid construction of EXAIR’s Flat Nozzle will not. In addition to be safe, durable, and reliable, EXAIR’s flat nozzles also offer a reduced sound level compared to these styles of nozzle. Reducing sound is another directive that OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 covers. If you’re using an unsafe nozzle in your facility, OSHA can quickly begin assessing fines for each violation. They don’t announce their visits beforehand, so make sure you do your due diligence and assess your compressed air blowoff products yourself!

2san_blowaway
EXAIR 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle “blows” away the competition!

If you would like to discuss how to make your compressed air use safer and more efficient, give us a call. Our team of highly-trained Application Engineers is standing by, ready to help you make the switch to an Intelligent Compressed Air Product.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer

E-mail:TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter:@EXAIR_TD

Increase Safety and Gain OSHA Compliance By Using An Engineered Solution

In 1972, the US Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) established Standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b) to reduce the outlet pressure to less than 30 psi, of an open pipe, nozzle, air gun, etc. when being used for cleaning. The intent of this directive was to prevent injury to operators. They determined that 30 psi was the pressure in which the skin could be broken if the device were dead-ended against the operator’s body, causing an injury known as an air embolism…the dead-ended force of the air, under pressure, breaks the skin and introduces air flow inside the body. This is a VERY dangerous condition which can quickly lead to serious injury, possible stroke or ultimately death.

While OSHA doesn’t recommend any type or manufacturer of device, they do provide two methods you can follow to gain compliance.

The first would be to reduce the operating pressure below 30 PSI, as shown in the below line drawing.  This, of course, limits the strength and usefulness of the exhausting air flow before it reaches the nozzle and before it is used upon the application.

 

The other method indicates using a nozzle which includes a pressure reducer or a relief device which will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psi if the nozzle is dead ended. All of EXAIR‘s products are engineered to meet or exceed this Standard. In the case of our Super Air Nozzles, the air exits through a series of jets, recessed behind an array of fins, so the outlet holes cannot be blocked directly, any potential obstruction of the outlet air holes results in the air having an alternative route to avoid injury to operators and personnel. This allows the full pressure (the highest energy) to reach the nozzle and the application

Open air lines and homemade blow offs violate OSHA standard 1910.242(b) because of harmful dead end pressures. If you would like to discuss how EXAIR products can help you gain OSHA compliance to increase personnel safety and avoid costly fines, please give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Line drawings used from OSHA’s website

EXAIR Safety Air Gun Promotion

From August 1st to September 30th, 2017, EXAIR will be giving away a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle with a purchase of a Precision, Soft Grip, or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun.  We are promoting the importance of safety in the workplace with the EXAIR Safety Air Guns as well as the versatility of the different types of EXAIR nozzles.  This promotional item, model 1126 nozzle, has a patented shim to blows a 1” wide stream of air to clean surfaces quickly and efficiently; a $43.00 complimentary gift (click on the link below).

Promotional Nozzle with EXAIR Super Air Guns

Compressed air guns are one of the most commonly used pneumatic products in a manufacturing plant.  They are used at workstations to blow off debris and to clean parts and tools.  Because of the large quantities that are used in a plant; they are the most targeted by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).  Majority of the common brands of air guns fail to comply with two common violations, rule 29CFR 1910.95(a) for loudness and rule 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure.  The reason is due to the nozzles that comes with the compressed air guns.  Fines can get very expensive, and you can alleviate these penalties by purchasing an EXAIR Safety Air Gun.  We are all responsible for safety; management, HSE department (Health and Safety Engineer), supervisors, and even the operators.  Your compressed air guns should be assessed in your facility to evaluate your safe work environment.

1310 Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun

With EXAIR Safety Air Guns, we supply an efficient, effective, and most important, safe air nozzle with all of our air guns.  They are CE Compliant and exceed the OSHA sound level and dead-end pressure requirements.  With substandard air guns, the operators would have to listen to loud noises all day and have to wear hearing protection.  As for the dead-end pressure; the EXAIR nozzles are engineered to not allow the operator to completely close the end against the hand or skin.  This is very important because if the pressure exceeds 30 PSIG, air can penetrate the skin and cause an air embolism.  Some manufacturers place a restriction inside the air gun to comply with this standard, sacrificing the effectiveness of the blowing force.  With our design, the compressed air is not able to be blocked; allowing the air to escape to atmosphere.  Even with the compressed air system set to 100 PSIG, the pressure against the skin will not exceed 30 PSIG.  Safety is a major concern for all of our customers and a priority for EXAIR in manufacturing our products.

1210-6-CS Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

As I mentioned above, the nozzles are one of the most significant parts in making a compressed air gun safe and OSHA compliant.  In combining our engineered nozzles with a quality air gun, this makes the EXAIR Safety Air Guns one of the best products on the market.  We currently have three different styles; the Precision, Soft Grip, and Heavy Duty.  These Safety Air Guns are ergonomically designed to fit comfortable in your hand; and they come with quality trigger mechanisms and a durable valve assembly.  The Precision Safety Air Gun is great for tight spaces and clearing out small holes.  The Soft Grip Safety Air Gun provides extra comfort for long extended uses, and the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun is a rugged, heavy duty industrial air gun.  In combination with the EXAIR nozzles, the Safety Air Guns can offer another important attribute; we can save you money!!!  Compressed air is very expensive to make, and with our Safety Air Guns, we use less compressed air but still create a strong blowing force.  We do this by entraining the free ambient air into the air stream.  If you increase the mass of air to the target, it will give you a hard hitting force to remove debris from surfaces or to clean tools and holes.  The amplification ratio can be as much as 25 to 1.  That means that for every 1 part of compressed air, the EXAIR Nozzles will entrain 25 parts of ambient air.  So, the payback period for using an EXAIR Nozzle can be within weeks by the savings in the electrical cost.  With the EXAIR products, we were able to partner with Energy Star and power facilities.  For the amount of energy savings, some power companies offer rebates for using EXAIR products.   We can offer our services to see if your local power company is participating in these rebates.

1408SS-CS Precision Safety Air Gun

A substandard blow-off gun is unsafe, loud, waste compressed air, and increase production times.  EXAIR Safety Air Guns can help improve these situations in all these areas.  They are OSHA compliant, very safe and very quiet.  They use less compressed air which saves you money.  And with a variety of different nozzles, they can better fit your application to decrease down time.  EXAIR offers a 30 day unconditional guarantee on our cataloged items to try.  You can see for yourself on how effective these compressed air guns can be.  If you need help to match the best Safety Air Gun to your application, you can contact an Application Engineer.  And during the next two months, take advantage of the free 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle  offer.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) – Dead-End Pressure and Chip Guarding Explained

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) discusses the use of compressed air for cleaning and blowoff. It states that the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes is prohibited if the dead-ended pressure exceeds 30 psig. This phrase means the downstream pressure of the air nozzle or gun, used for cleaning purposes, will remain at a pressure level below 30 psig for all static conditions. In the event that dead ending occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. If it does exceed this pressure, there is a very high potential for it to create an air embolism. An air embolism, left untreated, can quickly impede the flow of blood throughout the body. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes death. Take a look at the animation below to see how an air embolism can affect the body.

With this in mind, there are only two options for staying within compliance of this standard. Either install an engineered solution that will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psig if dead-ended, or regulate the pressure below 30 psig. For the vast majority of operations, regulating the input pressure below 30 psig is useless. The force and flow from the nozzle at this pressure is greatly reduced and likely not enough to be effective in most applications. All of EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns are designed so that the flow cannot be dead-ended. The fins on the Super Air Nozzles are not only useful in amplifying the force by drawing in ambient air, but they also prevent an operator from completely obstructing the airflow.

sag-osha-compliant
The fins of the Super Air Nozzle allow air to escape and prevent dead-end pressure from exceeding 30 psig.

In addition to being concerned about dead-end pressure, OSHA 1910.242(b) also states that compressed air used for cleaning should include effective chip guarding. By this, they mean that some method or equipment must be installed that will prevent chips and particles from coming back into the eyes or skin of the operator. In addition to offering OSHA compliant nozzles and guns, EXAIR also has Chip Shields that can be installed onto any of our Safety Air Guns. The polycarbonate shields protect the operator from any flying debris while performing a drying or blowoff operation. Simply add a “-CS” to the end of any Safety Air Gun Model number to have a Chip Shield installed on the gun.

1210peek-cs
EXAIR’s Model 1210-PEEK-CS with Chip Shield

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not contain any provisions that allow for the approval or endorsement of equipment. Alteration or the misapplication of what was once a safe piece of equipment would create a dangerous scenario that is out of the control of the original manufacturer. Any nozzles or guns marketed as “OSHA approved” should immediately throw up a red flag. Identifying and implementing a safe, OSHA compliant solution rests in the hands of the manufacturer themselves. If you’ve got questions about compressed air safety or have an existing blowoff in place that does not adhere to this OSHA directive, give us a call. We’ll be sure to recommend a solution that will keep your operators and wallets safe!

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