Two Important Safety Factors When Choosing Air Nozzles

At EXAIR, we have a statement, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility”.  And we also manufacture safe compressed air products.  In the United States, we have an organization called Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, that enforces directives for safe and healthy working environments.  They do training, outreach programs, and educational assistance for manufacturing plants.  They will also enforce these directives with heavy fines for violations.  The two most common violations with compressed air are air guns and blow-off devices are described in 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure/chip shielding and 29CFR 1910.65(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure.

Here is an example of a nozzle that is dangerous.  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 same group would include copper tube, extensions, and open pipes.

Unsafe Nozzle

They are dangerous as the compressed air cannot escape if it is blocked with your body or skin.  If operated above 30 PSIG (2 bar), these nozzles could create an air embolism within the body which can cause bodily harm or death.  This is a hazard which can be avoided by using EXAIR Super Air Nozzles and Safety Air Guns.  The nozzles are designed with fins which allows the air to escape and not be blocked by your skin.  So, you can use the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles safely even above 30 PSIG (2 bar).

Unsafe Air Gun

To counteract the dead-end pressure violation, some nozzle manufacturers create a hole through the side of the nozzle (Reference photo above).  This will allow for the compressed air to escape, but, now the issue is noise level.  With an “open” hole in the nozzle, the compressed air is very turbulent and very loud.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, states that 70% to 80% of all hearing loss within a manufacturing plant is caused by compressed air.  OSHA created a chart to show the maximum allowable noise exposure.  This chart shows the time and noise limits before requiring hearing protection.  The EXAIR Super Air Nozzles, Super Air Knives, Super Air Amplifiers are designed to have laminar flow which is very quiet.  As an example, the model 1210 Safety Air Gun has a sound level of only 74 dBA; well under the noise exposure limit for 8 hours.

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.

NIOSH created an overview of how to handle hazards in the workplace.  They call it the Hierarchy of Controls 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 unsafe compressed air nozzles and guns, the proper way to reduce this hazard is to substitute it with an engineered solution.

One of the last things that companies think about when purchasing compressed air products is safety.  Loud noises and dead-end pressure can be missed or forgotten.  To stop any future fines or additional personal protective equipment (PPE), it will be much cheaper to purchase an EXAIR product.  And with the Hazard Hierarchy of Controls, the first method is to remove any hazards.  The last method for control is to use PPE.  In the middle of the hierarchy is for an engineered solution.  EXAIR products are that engineered solution.  If you would like to improve the safety in your facility with your current blow-off devices, an Application Engineer can help you.

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

Picture:  Safety First by SuccoPixabay License

What is a Decibel Level?

Decibel level also known as dBA, is how the industry measures sound intensity’s effect on the human ear and is an important value when discussing noise exposure for employees and operators within manufacturing. Manufacturing personnel can be at risk for hearing damage when exposed to high decibel levels if the proper precautions are not taken. For reference, 0 dBA is the softest level that a person can hear. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dBA. A rock concert can be about 120 dBA.

Sounds that are 85 dBA or above can permanently damage your ears. The more sound pressure a sound has, the less time it takes to cause damage. This damage occurs within a sensitive part of our ear called the cochlea, which contain thousands of hair cells used to allow our brains to detect sounds. For example, a sound at 85 dBA may take as long at 8 hours to cause permanent damage, while a sound at 100 dBA can start damaging hair cells after only 30 minutes of listening.

OSHA Max Noise Exposure Chart

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Whether you work near machinery, at a sports venue, on a tarmac, or operate a jackhammer—hearing loss is preventable.

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if you:

  • Hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • Have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away.
  • Experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.

If you need to raise your voice to speak to someone 3 feet away, noise levels might be over 85 decibels. Sound-measuring instruments are available to measure the noise levels in a workspace.

The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.

From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud commercial air nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only can they pay for themselves over a short period of time time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!

 EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Reduce Sound Level in your Factory, Improve Worker Safety and Comfort

Checking the sound level in your processes is an important aspect of ensuring a safe working environment for your employees. Loud noises and the exposure time can lead to significant health concerns. Permanent hearing loss, increased stress levels due to the uncomfortable work environment, and potential injury due to lack of concentration or inability to hear the surroundings are all examples of some risks associated with a noisy environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known by most simply as OSHA, introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a means of protecting operators from injury associated with high noise levels. The chart below indicates maximum allowable exposure time based on different noise levels. At just 90 dBA, an operator can operate safely for 8 hours. Open end pipe blowoffs and some air guns fitted with cross drilled relief holes will often result in noise levels in excess of 100 dBA. At 110 dBA, permanent hearing loss can be experienced in just 30 minutes!

OSHA Chart

The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.

SoundMeter_new_nist225

From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud cross-drilled nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only will they pay for themselves over time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!!

Drilled pipe is another common culprit of high noise levels. Rather than purchasing an engineered solution, the idea is that a simple drilled pipe is just as effective right? Not at all!! Not only does a drilled pipe produce exceptionally high sound levels, but the amount of compressed air used is also very inefficient. EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and has a sound level of just 69 dBA at 80 PSIG. At this sound level, operators won’t even require hearing protection at all!

SAK vs drilled pipe
EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for replacing noisy, inefficient drilled pipe

With all of these products available in stock, EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.

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

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.15(a) – Occupational Noise Exposure Limits

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is a common problem in many industrial facilities. Without the use of proper PPE, hearing loss can occur quickly. This is a serious concern as hearing loss is permanent and once the damage is done there’s no way to reverse it. Due to this risk, OSHA strictly enforces standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a).

This directive discusses the effects of noise and limits exposure based on the dBA. The table below indicates the maximum allowable exposure time to different noise levels. Sound levels that exceed these levels should first be addressed by proper engineering controls such as isolating the source of the sound from personnel or replacing the cause of the sound with something like an engineered compressed air nozzle. When such controls aren’t feasible, proper PPE must be worn to protect the operator.

OSHA Chart

Hearing loss can occur in as little as 30 minutes when exposed to sound levels 110 dBA or greater. Operators have a tendency not to use PPE as directed, if an OSHA inspector comes to your facility and notices that the sound levels exceed the maximum allowable level without protection hefty fines will be soon to follow. In this example from the United States Department of Labor, a company was fined a total of $143,000 for failing to protect their employees.

SoundMeter_new_nist225
Model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter

In order to identify the places or processes in your facility that are causing the problems, you’ll need a tool to measure the sound level. EXAIR’s easy to use Digital Sound Level Meter allows you to measure and monitor the sound level pressure in a wide variety of industrial environments. The source of the loud noise can then be identified and isolated so that corrective action can be taken. For compressed air related noise, EXAIR manufactures a wide variety of engineered compressed air products that can reduce the sound level dramatically. In many cases, EXAIR products are capable of reducing noise levels by as much as 10 dBA. Since the dBA scale is logarithmic, this equates to cutting the sound level in half!

sound-level-comparison
Drilled pipes and open ended tubes are the common culprit for excessive noise levels. Replacing them with an engineered solution often eliminates the need for hearing protection.

If there’s processes within your facility that are above these limits and you’d like to eliminate relying on proper PPE, give an Application Engineer a call. We’ll help walk you through the selection process and make sure that when the OSHA inspector comes knocking you’re prepared!

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