OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 – Standard on Occupational Noise Exposure

Last week, the EXAIR Blog featured an article about the OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) – Reduction of Air Pressure below 30 psi for Cleaning Purposes.  This week, we will review another OSHA standard that affects many of you in manufacturing and other industries.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 – Standard on Occupational Noise Exposure discusses the effects of noise and sets limits for exposure.  Occupational noise can cause hearing loss, and also interfere with concentration and communication, disrupting the job performance. Below is a summary from the standard of the Permissible Noise Exposure (OSHA Table G-16)

OSHA Noise Level

From the chart, the time an employee can be exposed to loud noise is greatly reduced as the sound level goes up.   The use of hearing protection is helpful but relies on the operator to use consistently and correctly.  Ear plugs or ear muffs can be uncomfortable and hot, leading to possible reduced usage.  OSHA can come on site, and if violations to the sound level exposure limits are found, they can impose fines and mandate corrective action be taken place.

The recommended course of action when an operator is subjected to sound exceeding those in the chart above is to enable feasible administrative or engineering controls. Engineering controls is the arena in which EXAIR can be a great resource.

The first step in understanding and addressing any sound level issues is to measure the sound. The easy to use Digital Sound Meter, model 9104 shown below, allows for accurate testing of noise levels throughout the facility.  Noisy areas can be quickly identified, leading to review, design and implementation of the engineering controls.

SoundMeter_new_nist225

Some of the worst offenders for noise violations is compressed air usage.  A prime example would be inefficient blowoffs, used for cooling, drying, or cleaning.  Open pipe, copper tube or drilled pipe are a few of the common culprits.  Not only do they consume excessive amounts of compressed air, they can produce noise levels above 100 dBA.

EXAIR manufactures a wide variety of engineered products that utilize compressed air and deliver it in a controlled manner.  This allows for the most efficient use of compressed air and keeps the sound levels much lower than the inefficient methods.  A Super Air Knife can replace a drilled pipe, reducing sound by as much as 20 dBA, while using 50-70% less compressed air.  An engineered Super Air Nozzle can replace an open pipe or copper tube and reduce sound levels down to 74 dBA, and even down to 58 dBA for the smallest available nozzles.

EXAIR has been providing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.

If you have questions regarding noise limits and how to solve any issue with an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our 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

 

Engineered Air Nozzles Reduce Noise Levels and Outlet Pressure, Meeting OSHA Requirements

“My operators are complaining that our air guns are too loud, how can you help me?” – is a very common inquiry we receive here at EXAIR on almost a daily basis. Many open end blowoffs or air guns fitted with nozzles that have cross drilled relief holes create high pitch wind shear, resulting in excessive noise levels, sometimes exceeding 100+ dBA. This not only is a safety concern but also an OSHA violation.

Variety of Air Nozzles that produce dangerously loud noise levels

Loud noises and the length of exposure time can lead to significant health concerns such as long term hearing loss, increased stress levels and potential injury due to lack of concentration. The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a way to protect workers from job related injuries associated to potentially dangerous sound levels. Per the Standard, at 90 dBA an operator is limited to a maximum of 8 hours of constant exposure. As noise levels increase, the allowable exposure time decreases, in some cases slowing production, costing a company on their bottom line.

 

EXAIR’s Air Nozzles are engineered so they entrain surrounding air across the profile of the nozzle, which produces a smoother airflow, ultimately reducing wind shear, resulting in much lower sound levels, meeting the OSHA Standard.

Illustration showing the air travel of our Super Air Nozzles

 

In addition, our Air Nozzles also meet the OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for 30 PSI dead end pressure. All of our engineered Air Nozzles provide a relief or a safe path for the air to exit if the nozzle were to be blocked or pressed against an operator’s body so the exiting air pressure will never reach 30 PSIG.

All of EXAIR’s Air Nozzles are available with standard NPT threads to easily adapt to existing air guns. We also off our full line of Safety Air Guns which are fitted with our engineered nozzles, providing an “off-the-shelf” OSHA compliant solution. For help selecting the best product to replace your existing device or if you have a new application you would like to discuss, give us a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Air Nozzles Blowoff Guide Available For FREE

Are you looking for an engineered Air Nozzle to replace your existing unsafe open pipe? Maybe you are wanting to reduce the sound level in your facility or decrease your energy costs? EXAIR offers a large variety of Air Nozzles that are ALL OSHA compliant to meet or exceed OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), by eliminating any potential for dead-ending the air flow out of the nozzle and keeping the outlet pressure safe. The design of our Super Air Nozzles ejects the compressed  air behind a series of fins so there is always path for the air to escape, meaning they cannot be dead ended.

OSHA Noise Level
ALL of EXAIR’s Air Nozzles meet or exceed noise exposure levels.

In addition, our air nozzles meet the OSHA Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a) for allowable noise exposure levels. Excessive noise in the workplace can cause stress, lack of concentration leading to accidents and potential long term hearing loss (More OSHA Noise Induced Hearing Loss info here). EXAIR’s air nozzles entrain surrounding ambient air up to 25 times for every 1 part of compressed air, producing much less wind shear, reducing the output sound level, while also making our units more efficient, consuming less compressed air.

 

air nozzle flow
How our Super Air Nozzles entrain surrounding air.

We offer nozzles from our smallest offering with a tiny M4 thread up to our largest 1-1/4 NPT unit, with varying force from 2 ounces up to 23 lbs., in zinc aluminum, stainless steel, brass or PEEK plastic.

With such a vast offering, we understand selection can seem difficult. To simplify the process we offer our Air Nozzles Blowoff Guide. Our FREE Blowoff Guide has all the information available in regards to force, dimensions, air flow patterns, air consumption and materials.You will also find detailed information about our full product line of Safety Air Guns as well.

blowoff guide
Order our complimentary Blowoff Guide today!

To order our complimentary blowoff guide, please click here. If you need additional information, please give us a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Where Did All The C Clamps Go?

Over the past week I visited a local company here in Cincinnati that utilized a decent number of flat plastic air nozzles on their production lines.   This style nozzle had been used for many years but were the reason their engineering department contacted EXAIR.   The nozzles they had in place were used in many different applications from ejecting bad parts, holding up box flaps, and even positioning product correctly on the production line.   Every nozzle was tied to a regulator somewhere on the machine and all of the regulators were tuned to different pressures.

The customer was experiencing, at certain points during the day, a pressure drop throughout the entire system that would cause packaging lines to shut down due to low air pressure faults. The customer called EXAIR because they determined the plastic nozzles were using too much compressed air and were also a constant maintenance problem. Primarily, they wanted to see if we had a solution to lower compressed air while still achieving the desired production results.

Being local we were able to visit the customer and after discussing the applications we set out through the manufacturing area to discover if we could offer solutions for the problematic areas. We got about 10′ away from a casing machine and I heard a loud hiss of compressed air.   This was even with my foam ear plugs in.  Once we reached the edge of the machine I was quickly able to trace the sound down to a plastic flat nozzle that had been mounted to the machine, broken and held back in place by a large C clamp like seen below.

IMG_5777.JPG

As we went through the rest of this production line and the rest of the packaging facility, it was clear the customer had settled on using flat plastic nozzles throughout the plant. Generally we see this because the nozzles are cheap – when you forget to consider operating and maintenance costs. This was not the only broken nozzle being held in place by a clamp and it is also the not the only one that was using more compressed air than necessary.

After finishing the tour and performing some tests here in our lab I recommended that they utilize our 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with a .005″ thick shim installed.   By installing the 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle they are going to be able to mount the metal nozzles with minimal modification to their existing setup as well as lower air consumption and noise level. The metal construction makes them more durable and long lasting in an industrial environment. These nozzles will not break when an operator bumps it and the maintenance department will be able to reclaim all the C clamps that are distributed throughout the facility.

Once we have final numbers on how many nozzles have been replaced and what pressures each nozzle is operated at we will provide the customer the air consumption savings as well as the noise level reduction that they are seeing throughout the plant.

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

Safe Trip

Just getting back in the swing of things after being on vacation last week. My family, along with my mother, went on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise which included 3 days at sea and 3 days at different ports. Our port stops included the Bahamas, San Juan Puerto Rico and the island of St. Maarten. My wife and I have cruised several times and have already visited these islands, but with this cruise being our son’s and my mother’s first, we thought we would try to experience some different things.

Our last port was St. Maarten, where “we” (my wife and mother) planned our day of shopping and having an authentic lunch at a local restaurant. With the shopping portion of the day complete, we started asking locals for a good place to have lunch. We met a local who ran his own taxi company and recommended we have lunch at Maho Beach but it was going to be a 20 minute taxi ride. When we arrived, for some reason the area seemed somewhat familiar and then it hit me…. I’ve seen this place on TV! Their airport sits right on the edge of the island and arriving and departing planes basically fly right over your head while sitting at the restaurant/bar or swimming at the beach.

People line up along the road and fence line and wait for the next plane (the restaurant/bar has arrival and departure screens and will yell out when a large commercial jetliner is approaching), making it a very crowded area. Due to the potential jet blast coming from the engines there are safety signs posted that people ignore. I did ask one of the restaurant/bar managers if safety is such a concern, then why do they allow people to line up and he said “all they can do is warn people, if they want to subject themselves to injury, then that’s on them”. I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt, but I must admit, it is a little humorous to see people get blown all over the beach. Needless to say, we stood a good distance away.

St Maarten02_Maho Beach38Safety signmaho-beach-st-maarten

In all seriousness, safety should be a primary concern. Is your plant currently practicing safety when dealing with compressed air? Open pipes, tubes or drilled pipe can consume large amounts of compressed air, and exceed the pressure and noise level thresholds outlined by OSHA. And we are all aware that personnel don’t always abide by the safety rules – much like ignoring a safety sign.

At EXAIR, our customer’s safety is of utmost importance. All of our intelligent compressed air products meet or exceed the OSHA standard 1910.242(b) for safety.  This means that you can still operate the devices at 80 psig while not having to worry about an operator injuring themselves with the compressed air.  This is not just for one product line, but ALL of the compressed air products that we manufacture.

EXAIR products also meet or exceed the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure levels.   The chart for allowable noise level exposure is below. Occupational hearing loss is a serious issue in manufacturing, in fact, it is the most commonly recorded illness is manufacturing. Engineering controls, like replacing open air lines with engineered air nozzles, are one of the top recommendations to solve the problem. Engineering controls can effectively eliminate the problem of people forgetting, refusing, or ignoring safety processes.

OSHA Noise Level

By implementing the EXAIR engineered solutions into your facility you can effectively lower the noise level cause by unsafe compressed air blow offs and possibly eliminate the need for hearing protection all together.   In my experience any time an operator doesn’t need to wear hearing protection or you can make their surrounding environment a little quieter, they tend to be a little happier which, always leads to better production. Again, many resources back this up, loud noise can also create physical and psychological stress.

These are just two of the standards that EXAIR will never take a vacation on.   Every product that EXAIR designs must be safe for operator operations, whether that be through pressure output or through the noise level it creates.

Contact one of our applications engineers to see how we may be able to improve similar safety concerns at your facility.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Safety, Efficiency, and Production Improvements

Last week, I received an email from a satisfied customer, after he had already purchased our product.  Come to find out this customer had not spoken to an application engineer during the planning stage to make their purchase. With our excellent resources listed at EXAIR.com, the customer was able to fulfill his application without even speaking to us. After his initial email of thanks, he also shared with me some details of his application that I want to share with you today.

The customer works as a machinist at a large aircraft part manufacturer. The parts require a very tight tolerance. A sample of each part needed to be gauged and measured in an automatic thread gauging machine or a coordinate-measuring machine (CMM). Their machining process required a water based flood coolant, so each part would be coated in water based coolant and chips, which needed to be remove before gauging. Before visiting EXAIR’s site, the company used a variety of homemade and commercial blow offs, as safety air gun tips. Here is a photo of (20) of the (25) nozzles the customer was using.

Aircraft manufacturer's obsolete nozzles

As you can see, the nozzles vary in design purpose, flow and safety. Most of the nozzles feature a cross drilled hole or a secondary escape path, but not all of the nozzles do. Any nozzle without a secondary relief port violates OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b), so replacing some of the nozzles increased the safety in the plant. Secondly, these nozzles are wasteful in their use of compressed air because some were designed as liquid nozzles and have large exit holes. A hole that is 1/8″ in diameter at the nozzle outlet can consume up to 21.4 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG. For comparison, the model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzle with a 1/8″ NPT inlet will flow 10 SCFM at 80 PSIG, which would be a 53% compressed air savings. In 24 running hours, the 1103 nozzle will save 16,416 Standard Cubic Feet, which the plant spent $4.10 for a standard industrial compressor to produce (The standard for compressed air cost is $0.25 per 1,000 SCF). Replacing just one 1/8″ drilled hole with 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzle saves the aircraft company $1,026 over 250 working days running 24 hours a day.

Neither of these were the real reason that the customer emailed to thank us though. He was actually an office employee just entering the work force.  Starting in June until after the company finally acquiesced to his request to buy a better, quieter nozzle near the end of July, he had left work needing an aspirin to relieve the headache he acquired due to the noise from these other nozzles. The nozzles the machining center had been using would create noise levels between 88-100 dBA at 80 PSIG of inlet pressure. For reference OSHA mandates that employees are required to wear hearing protection, if they are exposed to noise levels over 90 dBA over an 8 hour work day.  The employees doing the machining wear hearing protection, but the employees in the office were still exposed and affected by the noise level.  This is just one anecdotal example, but everyday more and more research shows that noise exposure has a negative effect on our health and productivity in the workplace.  If you are interested in more information here are some links to a number of studies/research – please read this, here or this.

Anyway, that’s enough of my soapbox. The company purchased 25 of EXAIR’s 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles and utilizing the same guns they were currently using saw between a 10-15 dBA decrease in noise levels near the work stations. Here is a photo of one of their setups with the model 1103 installed on one of their current air guns.

Nozzle Replacement
The 1103 Super Air Nozzle is an engineered solution to replace a plethora of commercial nozzles. It was a simple and cost effective retrofit which increased the comfort of employees.

 

We know that every time they squeeze that air gun trigger they will be using less compressed air than before, and we know they are now in compliance with OSHA. But the best benefit for EXAIR is we know that the engineer took the time to email us to thank us for taking away his headache everyday.  That’s enough for me.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

 

EXAIR Super Air Knife: Reduce Cost, Reduce Noise, Increase Safety

This question from end user’s comes up again and again:

“I know EXAIR makes Air Knives. Do you have one for this application?”

We can answer, almost unequivocally, with a resounding “YES!” Whether we can meet the needs of the application with a stock product, or through manufacturing a specially made unit, we make every effort to provide the needed solution.

Super Air Knife Replaces Drilled Pipe Blow Off

Case in point, in the application above, a specific length Air Knife was desired to remove debris from material as it goes into a processing chamber. The current setup (outlined in red)  uses drilled holes in a section of pipe which are costly, loud, and unsafe.

How costly, you ask? Our customer stated this knife was 100″ long with 3/32″ holes on 2″ centers (50 holes). EXAIR test results on 3/32″ drilled holes confirm 15 SCFM per hole at 80 PSIG inlet pressure. The customer also estimates this drilled pipe operates for a total of 1 hour every day, 250 days per year. Using $0.25 per 1000 SCFM we can calculate the following:

  • 50 holes x 15 SCFM = 750 SCFM at 80 PSIG
  • 750 SCFM x 60 minutes per day = 45,000 SCF per day
  • 45,000 SCF x 250 days = 11,250,000 SCF per year
  • 11,250,000/1000 x $0.25 = $2812.50 cost per year

How loud, you ask? Our customer confirmed all personnel near the application were require to wear ear protection at all times. Though they were unable to provide a decibel (dBA) level, the need for hearing protection would indicate this pipe was operating in excess of 100 dBA.

How unsafe, you ask? Air can be dangerous when the outlet pressure of a hole is greater than 30 PSIG. In the event any of the holes were blocked by a hand or other body part, air may enter the bloodstream through the skin, resulting in serious injury. All of the Air Knives manufactured by EXAIR have been engineered for safety. They are all safe to be supplied with higher pressure compressed air and meet OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b). Drilled holes in a pipe DO NOT MEET this OSHA standard.

Initially, discussions with this end user focused on a custom length, custom built Super Air Knife. Given the dimensions of the processing environment, we determined the desired length and the end user was thrilled we could not only make to their specifications, but offer 3 day delivery as well.

As the discussion carried on, we realized that the special length Super Air Knife, while applicable, was not a critical requirement for the application. With this new consideration, a stock length knife was chosen, and just like any stock EXAIR product, we had it on the shelf, ready to ship the same day.

This application highlights several benefits of the EXAIR Super Air Knife solution – compressed air savings, noise reduction, providing safety, and quick delivery. EXAIR Super Air Knives solve multiple problems for end users and OEM’s in a variety of applications.

Compressed Air Savings: 

  • 96″ knife with 2.9 SCFM per inch consumption at 80 PSIG = 278.4 SCFM at 80 PSIG
  • 278.4 x 60 minutes per day = 16,704 SCF per day
  • 16,704 SCF x 250 days = 4,176,000 SCF per year
  • 4,176,000/1000 x $0.25 = $1044 cost per year
  • $2812.50 (drilled pipe annual air cost) – $1044 (EXAIR 96″ Super Air Knife air cost) = $1768.50 SAVINGS the first year!

Noise levels reduced to under 80 dBA. 

SAFETY: EXAIR Super Air Knives meet the OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b).

Switching this customer over to an engineered solution provided a win in these three important areas of any operation. If assistance is needed determining which Super Air Knife best suits your application, contact an Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE