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

 

 

Promo’s: Everybody Loves Free Stuff

I have been wanting to purchase a pair of good quality headphones for a while now and with vacation coming next week, I figured now was a good time to make my purchase. I was pretty set on the manufacturer but the tough choice for me was going to be if I wanted a set of earbuds (that fit directly in the ear) or a more traditional pair of “over the ear” headphones. smiley_face_headphones_tshirt-d23545082320430684226v7p_325I tried about 4 different pairs of over the ear units to see what the quality of sound was versus the feel/comfort and was pleasantly surprised but was still leaning towards earbuds. Unfortunately, due to health/cleanliness issues, you aren’t allowed to try on earbuds – which makes sense. So if I was going to go the earbud route I wanted to make sure I had all my questions answered so I decided to get a salesperson to assist me.

We went over features/benefits but this only made me question myself more. Seeing that I was struggling with a decision, the salesperson decided to make my choice a little easier – he mentioned that his store, along with the manufacturer, were offering a free promo but only if I purchased a set of earbuds (at a certain price of course). Due to the sound quality and trusted manufacturer, I was leaning towards a set of earbuds anyway, but hey – who doesn’t love FREE stuff? What they were offering was a free carrying case (not really free since it was already in the box), a free 2 year service agreement ($37 value) and a $25 gift card to their store.

Of course, I took advantage of their offer and made the purchase. After listening to the earbuds while I finished my packing, I couldn’t be happier with my selection.

At EXAIR, we occasionally run promotional offers too. From now through September 30th, 2014, if you purchase one of our Precision Safety Air Guns, Soft Grip Safety Air Guns or our Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns (with or without an Aluminum extension), you will receive a FREE Chip Shield.

Free Chip Shield Promo
The polycarbonate Chip Shield, meeting OSHA 1910-242(b) for compressed air use, offers the operator safe and smart protection from flying debris as well as any splashing. Not to mention that all of our Safety Air Guns incorporate one of our Engineered Super Air Nozzles that meet or exceed the same OSHA standard and reduce air consumption and sound level.

This offer is good for all three models of our Safety Air Guns:

  • Durable, Lightweight, Precision Airflow – The Precision Safety Air Gun is a small ergonomic gun good for light duty cleaning or blowoff and fits well in smaller hands. It also has a strong focused blast of air capable of reaching into tight spaces.
  • Versatile, Industrial Duty, Most Popular – The Soft Grip Safety Air Gun is our most popular gun cast from aluminum with a comfortable four finger trigger to reduce fatigue over long periods. A large variety of air nozzle options provides a solution for light to heavy duty blowoff applications.
  • Powerful, Rugged, Robust – The Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun is the powerhouse you need for the harshest environments and stubborn blowoff applications. It is outfitted with many of our most powerful nozzles to provide the highest force upon your application.

To learn more about this offer, please visit our website www.EXAIR.com or if you have a specific application you would like to discuss, give us a call at 1-800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
JustinNicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

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

Can Fish Hear & Other Noise Exposure Facts?

When I was visiting a supplier in Japan, our host was extremely proud of their koi pond and wanted to demonstrate something. He took us to the pond’s edge and clapped his hands. From the murky depths of the pond emerged huge koi breaking the surface with open mouths. As their reward, he tossed them a handful of fish food.

While everyone else was enamored with his ability to have trained the fish, I was awestruck with the fact that they could hear the sound of clapping deep down into the pond. No wonder dad kept telling me to be quiet or you will scare the fish away.

According to the National Wildlife Federation fish don’t have ears that we can see, but they do have ear parts inside their heads. They pick up sounds in the water through the lateral lines that runs down each side of its body and transmitted to their internal ear.

While human auditory abilities may not be as sensitive as the rest of the animal kingdom, the inner workings of our ears are very sensitive easily damaged. Listening to loud noise for long periods of time can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss usually develops gradually and painlessly. We live in a noisy world and hearing loss among Americans is significant. According to the Center for Hearing and Communications, approximately 12% of the U.S. population or 38 million Americans have a significant hearing loss.

For 30 years EXAIR has been designing and manufacturing compressed Super Air Nozzles, jets, knives, and amplifiers that significantly reduce sound levels and compressed air costs. Protect your hearing as well as your employee’s and save money by contacting our application engineers and they will show you how.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
Phone (513) 671-3322
Fax   (513) 671-3363
Web: www.exair.com
Twitter: EXAIR_JP

EXAIRBlogLogo

Common Sense…Of Hearing

When I was eight years old, on one very special Saturday morning every month, my Dad would take me and my brother to downtown Cincinnati, where we’d have breakfast and visit the Carew Tower, which, until earlier this year, was the tallest building in the city. We always went to the observation deck, regardless of the weather. Those trips were among the greatest father/sons moments in history, I’m convinced. I got to see my Dad, a simple country man who was completely out of his element in this urban setting, approach a beggar and slip him some change. With that, I learned about discreet charity and unpretentious humility. One particularly unforgettable morning, over pancakes at our usual diner stop, my Dad noticed that Johnny Bench was sitting two booths down, and encouraged my brother and me to go say hi. Now, this was 1975, when the Big Red Machine was invincible, and Mr. Bench was the Most Important Man In The World. He made me feel like the Most Important Kid In The World that morning, so I thank him…and my Dad…for that.

My Dad was a master of finding, and exploiting, the proverbial silver lining…see, the reason he was making these exciting monthly treks to the Big City was because he was losing his hearing, and was getting his new hearing aids “tuned in” at his doctor’s office, which was located in the Carew Tower. He never let the dark cloud of going deaf get in the way of providing a few hours of excitement and adventure for his sons.

His hearing worsened to a point past the usefulness of hearing aids, and it became a genuine quality-of-life issue in his last few years. I’m serious about preserving my hearing, and being a self-appointed advocate for hearing protection, because of this. OSHA has published a table of Permissible Noise Exposures, which anyone who is regularly exposed to above-conversation-levels of noise should be familiar with. If you wear hearing protection religiously in these environments, good for you. If you don’t, it’s never too late to start.

Compressed air is a notorious source of noise in commercial and industrial environments. Joe Panfalone wrote about the harmful effects of noise pollution in a recent post, and he detailed typical noise levels associated with sources that most of us are familiar with. Contrasting these with OSHA’s limits can put a lot into perspective.

If you know the noise levels you’re subjected to, that’s great. Use that to determine when/where you need to use hearing protection. If you don’t know your environmental sound levels, EXAIR can help. Our Digital Sound Level Meter is easy to use, and allows you to measure and monitor the sound level in your environment. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Additionally, the sound levels of many of our products are published in our catalog. Products like our Air Knives and Super Air Nozzles are specifically designed with sound level reduction in mind. They’re also engineered to maximize efficiency, so, in a lot of cases, you can turn down the supply pressure, decreasing the sound level further.

Our sense of hearing is a good thing. Too good to ignore the simple steps it takes to preserve it. If you want to discuss how EXAIR products can help reduce your noise levels, you’ve got my undivided attention. Call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: http://blog.exair.com
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair