Minimizing Hazards using the CDC’s Hierarchy of Controls

CDc Hierarchy of Controls

The management and effective control to reducing or eliminating workplace hazards can be frustrating. Controlling the exposure(s) to occupational hazards is the fundamental method of protecting employees. The CDC published a useful guide called “Hierarchy of Controls” detailing 5 types of control methods as a means to implement effective control solutions.

The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following this hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced.

Elimination and substitution, while most effective at reducing workplace hazards, also tend to be the most difficult to implement in an existing process. If the process is still in a development stage, elimination and substitution of hazards may be inexpensive and simple to implement. For an existing process, major changes in equipment and procedures may be required to eliminate a hazard.

With 23 lbs of hard hitting force, this 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle is perfect for the most extreme blow off and cleaning jobs.

EXAIR can help your company follow the Hierarchy of Controls, to eliminate or reduce the hazards of compressed air usage. Many EXAIR products, including Super Air Knives and Air Amplifiers are simple to use for the substitution level of the hierarchy. The simplest substitution may be any of the EXAIR Air Nozzles and Jets, which have been designed to meet OSHA standards. All are safe to be supplied with higher pressure compressed air and meet OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR-1910.95(a).

Of course, when designing new systems, keep these products in mind and begin to design safer and more efficient compressed air demand elements of your machines and processes.

If you have questions or want to talk to an EXAIR Application Engineer please contact us to discuss how our products will be beneficial to your work environment safety.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems Eliminate Mist & Breathing Problems In Machine Shops

Some machine tool operations require flood coolant. Not only does the liquid remove heat of friction from the tool and the work piece, it also provides lubrication that the cutting of some materials require. For other machining operations, mist coolant removes heat, provides a measure of lubricity, and minimizes (to a degree) the volume of liquid used in a flood coolant application.

This high speed photograph illustrates how flood coolant gets atomized by a machine cutting tool.

Whether you flood or mist liquid right onto a tool cutting metal, some of it’s going airborne. CNC machines are oftentimes equipped with collection systems for coolant mist, and it’s not unusual to see ambient mist collectors installed in machine shops to take care of the mist that escapes individual machines.

These mist collectors play an essential role in these facilities, as there are considerable health risks associated with exposure to these fluids, both oil- and water-based. In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health (NIH) compiles & analyzes risks associated with skin contact & inhalation of metalworking fluids. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has comprehensive recommendations of limitations on exposure to them. In England, the Health & Safety Executive agency likewise published a document geared toward helping machine shops and their employees work safely with them.

Speaking of NIOSH, they strategize a Hierarchy of Controls that can be applied to most any industrial process:

Elimination of the hazard isn’t always possible, but when it is, it’s the most effective option.

While mist collectors (Engineering Controls) are reasonably effective (and essential in the large number of applications where metalworking fluids are necessary), there are still a fair amount of applications where liquid coolant CAN be eliminated. For those applications, consider the EXAIR Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems.

Cold Guns not only eliminate messy and potentially hazardous liquid coolants, but also have been proven to improve cutting tool life.

Using Vortex Tube technology, EXAIR Cold Guns generate cold air flow from a supply of compressed air, instantly & on demand, with no moving parts to wear or electrical components to burn out. They’re safe, quiet, effective, and install in minutes, using a built-in bar magnet and 1/4 NPT compressed air connection.

Both Standard & High Power Systems come with Filter Separators, and are available with Single or Dual Point Hose Kits.

We know we can’t replace liquid coolant in every machining application, but if you’d like to explore elimination of it in your processes, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls

Last year I hosted a Webinar about the NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls and compressed air safety! You can watch that here on our website!

The hierarchy of controls is a strategy that originates from NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. This hierarchy is their recommendation for increasing safety for personnel by taking specific steps and how each step increases safety moving from bottom to top of the pyramid. In this blog I will explain the main elements of the HIERARCHY OF CONTROLS and illustrate how to reach the highest level of control with important compressed air safety standards.

The least effective methods are Administrative Controls and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Administrative Controls involve making changes to the way people perform the work and promoting safe practices through training. The training could be related to correct operating procedures, keeping the workplace clean, emergency response to incidents, and personal hygiene practices, such as proper hand washing after handling hazardous materials. PPE is the least effective method because the personnel themselves make the choice to wear them or not wear them in any particular situation. They can be trained on the risks of not using PPE equipment (ear plugs, gloves, respirators, etc.) but we all know it does not always get used. PPE can also become damaged, may be uncomfortable and not used, or used incorrectly.

In the middle range of effectiveness is Engineering Controls. These controls are implemented by design changes to the equipment or process to reduce or eliminate the hazard. Good engineering controls can be very effective in protecting people regardless of the the actions and behaviors of the workers. While higher in initial cost than Administrative controls or PPE, typically operating costs are lower, and a cost saving may be realized in the long run.

The final two, Elimination and Substitution are the most effective but can be the most difficult to integrate into an existing process. If the process is still in the design phase, it may be easier and less expensive to eliminate or substitute the hazard. Elimination of the hazard would be the ultimate and most effective method, either by removing the hazard altogether, or changing the work process so the hazard is no longer part of the process.

EXAIR can help your company follow the Hierarchy of Controls, and eliminate, or substitute the hazards of compressed air use with relative ease. 

Home of Intelligent Compressed Air Products

Engineers can eliminate loud and unsafe pressure nozzles with designs that utilize quiet and intelligent compressed air products such as Air NozzlesAir Knives and Air Amplifiers. Also, unsafe existing products such as air guns, can be substituted with EXAIR engineered solutions that meet the OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

Elimination and Substitution are the most effective methods and should be used whenever possible to reduce or eliminate the hazard and keep people safe in the workplace. EXAIR products can be easily substituted for existing, unsafe compressed air products in many cases. And to avoid the hazard altogether, remember EXAIR when designing products  or processes which require compressed air use for cooling, cleaning, ejection, and more. 

If you have questions about the Hierarchy of Controls and safe compressed air usage from any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Hierarchy of Controls Image:  used from  Public Domain

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