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.

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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!

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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

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.

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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

 

Compressed Air Gun’s Many Forms Solve Many Problems

Have you just glanced around your manufacturing plant? You usually always see either the “curly” yellow hose or a red rubber hose with an air gun attached to it.  They hang at work stations, machines, packaging areas, and even in obscure places.  The reason that I bring this up is for safety reasons.

Recently we had a medium-sized manufacturing plant that was audited by OSHA. One of the first violations that OSHA found was with their compressed air guns with the typical brass pipe with the hole going through the side (one of the most typical types of nozzle).  It violated code 29 CFR 1910.65(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure.  The company had to make a choice to either purchase hearing protection for the operators or to find an alternative product.  They contacted us because we could reduce their noise level.  I suggested a Super Air Nozzle, model 1100 for their application.  When they attached our Super Air Nozzle into their air gun, they quickly heard the difference with the low noise.  With the added benefits of quality, high force, and meeting all the safety requirements, they decided to purchase the nozzles with our Safety Air Guns.  They ordered 90 pieces of our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with Chip Shield, model 1210-CS.  This took care of the OSHA violation, and the operators were very happy with the product.

Model 1210-CS
Model 1210-CS

Another company was using compressed air with a ¼ turn valve attached to a 36” (91 cm) copper tubing. They used this device to reach into areas to blow off chips.  The Safety Compliance Officer was familiar with OSHA 29CFR 1910.242(b).  The regulation references chip shields and using pressures below 30 psig (2 bar).  Compressed air can enter the blood stream through the skin with pressures above 30 psig (2 bar) in a dead-end occurrence.  To keep his workers safe, he mandated a maximum supply line pressure of 30 psig (2 bar) throughout the plant.  This increased the cleanup time for an operation as the force was reduced greatly.  The Safety Compliance Officer contacted us about our Safety Air Guns.  I explained that with our nozzles, they are engineered to operate at higher supply line pressures and still be below the dead-end pressure requirement of 30 psig (2 bar).  With our design, it keeps the surface of your skin from blocking the air openings, like you can do with a copper tubing.  They ordered 25 pieces of our Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun with a 36” (91 cm) extension and Chip Shield, model 1310-36-CS.  The operators were happy with the durability of the gun and with the ability to increase the air pressure for faster cleaning.  The Safety Compliance Officer was happy to meet the OSHA standard and to keep his workers safe.

Model 1310-36-CS
Model 1310-36-CS

EXAIR offers a variety of different types of nozzles and Safety Air Guns to fit the requirements of your applications. All of our nozzles are safe, quiet, and powerful.  We offer them in different materials from aluminum/zinc, stainless steel, and PEEK.  They are designed to entrain ambient air to save compressed air and money.  As a note, an air gun is only as good as the nozzle it is using.  Many air guns come with a very inexpensive brand of nozzle.  They are typically very loud and very inefficient.  I always like to use the analogy of a paint sprayer.  No matter how good the spray gun is, if you have a poor nozzle, you will end up with many flaws in your paint.  The same can be said with compressed air guns.

To keep your company compliant and safe, you can always contact an Application Engineers to help pick the correct product for you.

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

EXAIR Leads the Way with Product Standards

Standards seem to continually get introduced and updated. There is an ever increasing number of local, regional, federal, and even global standards to comply with.  We pay close attention to these standards and have the largest number of standards upon our products.

meets or exceeds oshaThe standards the every EXAIR product meets or exceeds are the OSHA standards for dead-end pressure as well as allowable noise level exposure.  The dead-end pressure directive is OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.242 (b).  The standard refers to the fact that compressed air can be dangerous when the outlet pressure of a hole, hose or copper tube is higher than 30 psig (2 BAR).  In the event the opening is blocked by a hand or other body part, air may enter the bloodstream through the skin, resulting in a serious injury.  All of the compressed air products manufactured by EXAIR have been designed for safety.  All are safe to be supplied with higher pressure than 30 psig and still meet or exceed the OSHA standard.

The OSHA standard 29 CFR – 191.95 (a) refers to the maximum allowable noise exposure that an operator is permitted to be exposed to for a given period of time.   The chart of allowable exposure times is shown below.   All EXAIR products are engineered to create the minimum amount of noise while efficiently utilizing compressed air.   Many times blow offs are cross drilled to permit air to escape in order to meet the OSHA standard for dead end pressure, this process increases the noise level generated by that blow off considerably.

OSHA Noise Level

One of the most stringent compliance that EXAIR has upon its products is the UL/CUL listings and recognition.  All EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are UL listed, we were the first to insure your electrical cabinet’s NEMA integrity remained by putting our Cabinet Cooler systems to the UL test. This means that the Underwriters Laboratories have deemed these products safe for operation throughout the US and Canada per their standards that are applicable for each of the product groups.   The products undergo numerous tests and scenarios to ensure that an operator will be safe during the normal operation of the units.   The tests for the Cabinet Cooler Systems includes environmental exposure for the given NEMA type of the enclosure along with many other tests.  The Static Eliminator Power Supplies are also UL listed.

cULlistedcULrecognized

CE is another standard which EXAIR pays great attention to to meet or exceed. CE is a standard that is normally preferred when dealing with countries outside of the US but is gaining popularity within the states as well.  CE being a European standard actually stands for a french phrase, “Confrmité Eurpéene” which is translated to “European Conformity”.  Any EXAIR product displaying the CE mark conforms where there are applicable directives.CE

The RoHS directive is targeted on heavy metals that are generally found within electronics.  Substances like Mercury, Lead, Polybrominated biphenyls, Cadmium, or Hexavalent chromium.  In order to meet the RoHs directive a product must have 100 parts per million or less of mercury and for other substances there must be less than 0.01% of the substance by weight in a raw homogeneous materials level. All EXAIR products which are electronic or contain electronic devices are compliant to the 2002/95/EC RoHS directive, also including the amendment outlined in the European Commission decision L 214/65.  This includes all EXAIR Static Eliminators, Electronic Flow Control, and Electronic Temperature Control products.ROHS_Vector

EXAIR maintains records to be sure our supply chain is providing product which meets the conflict mineral free guidelines of the Dodd-Frank Act.  EXAIR supports Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and we are committed to compliance with the conflict minerals rule in order to curb the illicit trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the DRC region. EXAIR is using the CMRT 3.02 template to document our supply chain and commitment to conflict free products. When requested we will even provide the needed forms to support our customer’s efforts in complying with the Dodd-Frank Act.

conflictfree

REACH, is another European Community Regulation this time on chemicals and their safe use.  REACH is targeted to ensure personnel and environmental health by identifying the intrinsic properties of chemical substances easily.  REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances and was written into law in 2007. EXAIR products are not required to be registered per Title II, Article 7, paragraph 1  of the legislation since they do not contain substances that are intentionally released.   This is to ensure compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 Title I, Article 3, paragraph 3, the European Union requires registration of chemicals and substances imported into the EU to ensure a high level of protection of human health and environment.

Reach

 

To conclude, when there is a safety audit, safe sourcing directive or some other form of standard/conformance that you need to meet, consider EXAIR compressed air products. Please contact us to find out if we can help you meet or exceed those standards.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

A (Sample) Lexicon For Compressed Air

Every industry and different technical subject matter comes with it’s own lexicon of terms or vocabulary words.  More often than not, when speaking to an Application Engineer here at EXAIR you are going to hear words within our lexicon. The list I have compiled below is merely a sampling to help translate some terms that we forget not everyone knows.  Some of these are merely acronyms that get thrown around a good amount.

SCFM – Standard Cubic Feet per Minute – This is the unit we use to represent the volumetric flow rate of compressed gas that has already been corrected to standardized conditions of pressure and temperature.

PSIG – Pounds per square inch gauge – This is the unit which we use to represent the operating inlet pressure of the device.  When requesting this, we generally are looking for a pressure gauge to be installed directly on the inlet to the device with no other form of restrictions between the two.  For the most part, catalog consumption values are given in SCFM at 80 psig.  The main exception to that rule are the Vortex Tube based products.

Compressed Air – This is a utility that most industrial manufacturing facilities have available to them.   It is regular, atmospheric air which has been compressed by an air compressor to a higher pressure than atmospheric.  Generally speaking, compressed air systems will be at a range of 85-120 psig.

OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration – This is the main federal agency that enforces two of the major conformance standards that EXAIR products meet or exceed.

29 CFR- 1910.95 (a) – Maximum allowable noise level exposure.  The great majority of EXAIR products meet or exceed this safety standard, our largest Super Air Nozzles
1910.242 (b) – This is the standard which states compressed air blow off devices cannot exceed 30 psig of dead end pressure.  This means, if the exit point of the air can be blocked the operating pressure must be below 30 psig.  The reason for this standard is to prevent air embolism which can be fatal.  All EXAIR products meet or exceed this standard by having multiple orifice discharge.

Coanda Effect – This is the effect that numerous EXAIR products utilize to amplify and entrain ambient air.   The Coanda effect is when a fluid jet (stream of compressed air) tends to be attracted to a nearby surface.  This principle was found by a Romanian aerodynamics pioneer, Henri Coandᾰ.  The picture below shows a Super Air Amplifier blowing a foam ball into the air and suspending it due to the Coanda effect on the surface of the ball.

A Super Air Amplifier's air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.
A Super Air Amplifier’s air stream causes a foam ball to be suspended in mid air thanks to the Coandᾰ effect.

Rigid Pipe or Hard Pipe – This is the term we will often use when discussing the compressed air line that can be used to support and supply certain EXAIR products.  Generally we are referring to a Schedule 40 steel pipe, Type L copper line, stainless steel tube, or any form of pressure rated hard pipe that can be used for supplying compressed air.

Plenum – the state or a space in which a gas, usually air, is contained at pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. Many of our products feature a plenum chamber. 

Again, this list is only a sample of the terminology you will hear us use when discussing compressed air applications.  If there are any other air/compressed air/fluid dynamic terms you may be unsure of, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF