Know What to Look For – Are Your Compressed Air Guns OSHA Safe?

One of the easiest ways to find out if your compressed air guns are safe for operation is by looking at the nozzle.  First, take your current compressed air gun and disconnect it from the compressed air line.  Second, look directly into the end of the nozzle where the air comes out.  If you can see the inside of the nozzle, then your air gun or blow-off device is unsafe.  Nine out of ten compressed air guns are considered to be dangerous.  In this blog, I will go through the dangers and violations of compressed air guns and nozzles that are very common in the market place.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is an organization that enforces standards for safe and healthy working environments.  They have training, outreach programs, and educational assistance for manufacturing plant.  But, they will also enforce these standards with heavy fines for violations.  The two most common violations with compressed air guns and nozzles are 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure/chip shielding and 29CFR 1910.65(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure.  If you are unfortunate in receiving an audit, the OSHA agent will target your compressed air guns and blow-off devices.

Unsafe Nozzle

Here is the first example of a nozzle that I would like to discuss.  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 category will include copper pipes, extensions, or worn nozzles.  They are dangerous as the compressed air cannot escape if it is blocked by your skin.  An air embolism could occur within the body which can cause bodily harm or death.  If operated above 30 PSIG (2 bar), these nozzles would violate the OSHA 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure.  This is a hazard which can be avoided by using EXAIR Super Air Nozzles and Safety Air Guns.  The nozzles are designed to utilize fins to allow air to escape and not penetrate your skin.  With EXAIR products, you will not violate this standard even if you go above the 30 PSIG (2 bar).

Safety Air Gun

To counteract the dead-end pressure violation, some nozzle manufacturers created a hole through the side of the nozzle (Reference photo below).  This will allow for the compressed air to escape, but, now the issue is noise level.  With an “open” section in the nozzle, the compressed air is very turbulent and very loud.  They state that 70% to 80% of all hearing loss within a manufacturing plant is caused by compressed air.  For this, OSHA 29CFR 1910.65(a) was created to show the maximum allowable noise exposure.  This chart shows the time and noise limits before requiring hearing protection.  The EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are designed to have laminar flow which is very quiet.  With our typical Safety Air Gun, model 1210, the sound level is only 74 dBA; well under the noise exposure limit for 8 hours.

Unsafe Air Gun
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.

Why do I bring these points up?  Because safety is everyone’s responsibility.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, has an overview of how to handle hazards in the workplace.  They call it the Hierarchy of Controls (click).  This is a means 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 your unsafe compressed air nozzles and guns, EXAIR can help by substituting the hazardous air gun and nozzle with an engineered solution designed with safety in mind.

In my opening statement, I explained a quick and easy method to determine if your compressed air guns are dangerous.  To keep your company compliant and safe, EXAIR offers a variety of different types of nozzles and Safety Air Guns to best fit your requirement.  If you find that you are using hazardous blowing equipment, you can contact an Application Engineer to find a safe and effective alternative.

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

EXAIR Safety Air Gun Promotion

From August 1st to September 30th, 2018, EXAIR will be giving away a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle with the purchase of any promotional VariBlast, Soft Grip, or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun.  EXAIR is stressing the importance of safety in the workplace with the EXAIR Safety Air Guns as well as the versatility of the different types of EXAIR Super Air Nozzles.

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This promotional item, the model 1126 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, has a patented shim to blow a 1” wide stream of air to clean surfaces quickly and efficiently and is a $45.00 USD value. For more details on the Promotion, click on the photo/link above. For more information about the Flat Super Air Nozzles, click HERE.

Inexpensive air guns can be purchased just about anywhere- online, via catalogs, and through industrial supply companies. Typical quality is less than ideal – broken triggers, leaky valves – a short lifespan in an industrial setting are merely a few of the issues observed.  Most are loud and inefficient – they just blow large amounts of compressed air, and at noise levels that violate OSHA requirements.  Some may even generate dangerous dead end pressure situations that that can result in serious or fatal injuries if blocked.

EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns have been engineered and designed to eliminate these issues. They are durable for use in industrial situations and comfortable to use for extended periods of time.  With an EXAIR engineered air nozzle, each model provides top performance by entraining large volumes of surrounding air into the air-stream. Operation is assured to be safe along with low compressed air consumption and noise levels.  Due to the design, the airflow that exits the nozzle cannot be blocked, as required by OSHA Standard 29 CPR 1910.242(b).

Safety Air Guns
The EXAIR VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns

The VariBlast style of safety air gun offers variable force based on the range of trigger pull. Force can be varies, form a light breeze, to full force maximum output. This cast aluminum air gun can be fitted with any of the EXAIR 1/8 NPT engineered air nozzles.

The Soft Grip style of safety air gun  has a durable cats aluminum body suited for rugged, industrial use. The ergonomic design has a soft vinyl cover, a large trigger for easy operation, and a hanger hook for easy storage.

The Heavy Duty style of safety air gun is powerful with a durable aluminum cast body and ergonomic composite rubber grip, best suited for rugged industrial environments. Hours of fatigue free operation are possible.

With all of the Safety Air Guns styles, Chip Shields and Extension Pipes are available, from 6″ to 72″ in length.

1210-6cs
Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, with Chip Shield and 12″ Extension

With many nozzle options, from a whisper quiet 58 dBA and 2.5 SCFM of flow up to 60 SCFM and 87 dBA (still below the OSHA 8 hour noise level threshold) there is a model that will fit practically any application. Application Engineers are available by phone, email, and chat to review your specific blow off needs, and help to select the best possible solution available.

We invite to you to try out an EXAIR Safety Air Gun, and get the free 1″ Wide Flat Super Air Nozzle as a bonus.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Sound – It Adds Up! How to Calculate Decibel Levels

Keeping noise levels in check and at safe levels is very important to ensure employee safety and well being.  OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) through standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a) has studied the situation and set Maximum Allowable Noise Exposure limits in Hours per Day based on the Sound Level, in dBA, of exposure.

For existing processes, a Digital Sound Meter is a valuable tool to measure the sound level to ensure that the source of loud noises can be quickly identified and isolated for immediate corrective action.

For new processes, or changes to an existing process, it is important to estimate the sound level prior to installation and start-up, so that precautions can be taken as needed.

For example, let’s say we are going to add a blow off station to clean off a part on a conveyor to improve the process and increase the throughput.  A typical set-up might be a 12″ Super Air Knife (model 110012) blowing off the top and a pair of Super Air Nozzles (model 1100) to blow off the sides.

SAK and ASAN
12″ Super Air Knife and Super Air Nozzle

If we look at the performance data for the (2) different blow off devices, we find that the Super Air Knife is rated at 69 dBA and the nozzles at 74 dBA, when operated at 80 PSIG of compressed air supply.

SAK and ASAN

When asked, “what is the sound level for (1) of the knives, and (2) of the nozzles” a little Acoustic Engineering is in order. The decibel scale is logarithmic, and determining the total sound level when all (3) devices are in operation is not as easy as adding up the three sound level values (which would equal 218 dBA, way off the charts!).  Thankfully, both the actual sound level and the numerical value are determined another way.  I’ll spare you a lot of the math but the equation is as below.

Capture

… where SL1, SL2, SL3, … are the sound levels in dBA of the each sound makers, for as many that are being combined (in our example SL1 = 69, SL2 = 74 and SL3 = 74)

Plugging in the numbers into the equation, the combined sound level works out to be a quiet 77.65 dBA — well within the OSHA limit for exposure for a full 8 hour period.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can make your process better and quieter, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Protect Personnel from Noise with Engineered Products

Sound can be defined as vibrations that typically travel as an audible wave through mediums that can be a gas, liquid or solid. For this blog we will concern ourselves with sound travelling through a gas (atmosphere) in an industrial setting.

Sound is energy that travels in waves and is measured by its frequency (cycles per second) and amplitude (intensity). A common unit of measurement for sound energy is the decibel. The decibel (abbreviated with dBA) is a unit-less number that is based on the logarithm of a known measured quantity to a reference quantity. Without reciting the equation for every increase of 3 dBA is a doubling of sound energy or twice as loud.

Since our focus is on industrial sound one might question why be concerned at all, after all sound emanates from most machines and devices. The reason for concern is that there are OSHA regulations regarding the amount of time workers can be exposed to different levels of sound in their workday as illustrated below. These limits are in place to protect personnel from Noise Induced Hearing Loss or NIHL. When the damage to anyones hearing is caused by their profession, it is also referred to as Occupational Hearing Loss or OHL.

After monitoring for noise, NIOSH and the CDC next recommend administrative controls to minimize or eliminate the noise hazard (click for their helpful PDF). This would include the use of noise reducing EXAIR products like Super Air Nozzles, Air Knives and Air Amplifiers.

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OSHA Maximum Allowable Noise Exposure

When considering the many items in an industrial setting that produce loud sounds the list would be exhaustive. Many of them simply produce loud sounds that can’t be eliminated or reduced while on the other hand there are some that can. Some of the noisiest offenders that plants have control over are air powered tools and open tube blow-offs.  Eliminating inefficient methods of part blow off & part cleaning with an engineered solution allows a company to significantly reduce the level of sound in their plant, improve worker safety and save money on compressed air consumption.

Employers are required to provide hearing protection to employees whom are exposed to sounds above 90 dBA on a Time Weighted Average (TWA). Without digressing into the formulas TWA calculates a workers daily exposure to occupational sounds by taking into account the average levels (in dBA) and the time exposed to different levels.  This is the how OSHA assesses workers exposure and what steps should be taken to protect the workers.

To conclude, plants need to be mindful of the OSHA regulations for sound levels, time of exposure and that hearing protectors wear out. Earmuff seals can lose their elasticity and reduce their effectiveness and the soft pre-molded earplugs can wear out in a day and need replaced.  Keep a good supply on hand and OSHA suggests letting workers with noisy hobbies take them home for protection off the clock!

If you would like to discuss reducing noise or any EXAIR product, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Products: Silencing Mufflers Overview

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a), relating to permissible noise exposure levels, states that when employees are subjected to sounds in excess of 90 dBA, some type of control should be used to reduce the sound level. In an industrial setting, it’s very common to find the exhausting air from air operated devices such as actuators, diaphragm pumps or cylinders for example, to produce sound levels well above the allowable limits set forth in the Standard. EXAIR offers a variety of different Silencing Mufflers that help to reduce this  noise level, while also increasing operator safety.

 

Reclassifying Mufflers are available in 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ NPT sizes

EXAIR’s Reclassifying Mufflers offer noise reduction up to 35 dB and are available in sizes ranging from 1/8″ to 1″ NPT. These types of mufflers are often considered”dual-purpose” as they not only reduce the noise level but also remove oil from the exhaust airflow by incorporating a removable filter element.  The exhausting oil mist is reduced from 50 PPM (parts per million) to only 0.015 PPM, when the device is operated at 100 PSIG. In addition, there is a bowl on the bottom to capture any residual oil and a 1/4″ tube adaptor to allow for easy draining.

Sintered Bronze Mufflers are available in #10-32, 1/8″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/4″ and 1-1/2″ NPT sizes, as well as 1/2-20 UNF female for use with solenoid valves
Straight Through Mufflers are available in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 3/4″ MNPT x FNPT

Sintered Bronze Mufflers are a relatively low cost option, commonly used with air cylinders as they can be installed quick and easy. We offer 1o different sizes, ranging from #10-32 for small installations, up to 1-1/2″ NPT for larger scale applications. The noise reduction depends on the size of the muffler and back pressure, which can occur from dirt or particulate clogging the muffler, restricting the exhausting airflow from passing through the porous sintered bronze.

Our Straight Through Mufflers are made of corrosion resistant aluminum and are lined with a sound absorbing foam, capable of reducing noise levels up to 20 dB. We offer 3 different sizes, 1/4″, 3/8″ and 3/4″ NPT, with a male thread on one end and female thread on the other. We incorporate this muffler design into our Cold Guns and Adjustable Spot Coolers and they are commonly used with our Vortex Tubes, Cabinet Cooler® Systems and E-Vac® Vacuum Generators as well.

Heavy Duty Mufflers are available in 1/4″ and 3/8″ FNPT

Lastly, the Heavy Duty Mufflers feature an internal, 50 mesh stainless steel screen, to protect against contaminants in the airflow,  and a corrosion resistant aluminum outer shell. In most cases, the sound reduction can be as high as 14 dB and we offer 2 different sizes, 1/4″ and 3/8″ FNPT. These types of mufflers are regularly used on the hot air exhaust of our Vortex Tubes.

For help with product selection or to discuss a particular process, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Excessive Noise Levels Cost You Health and Money

OSHA and the CDC make these statements about noise exposure. Did you know almost 30 million American workers are exposed to dangerous noise levels almost daily, with over 72% of those reported incidents happening in manufacturing environments? Noise induced hearing loss is the second most self-reported occupational injury and since 2004, over 125,00 workers have experienced some level of permanent hearing loss. Excessive noise levels can also reduce productivity, contribute to increased stress levels, communication errors and an irreversible condition called tinnitus or a constant ringing in the ears. In fact, disability claims associated to occupational hearing loss has risen to over $ 242 million per year.

30mill
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Is One Of The Most Common Occupational Diseases.

In effort to reduce worker exposure and increase safety, OSHA introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a). As the standard reads, employees that are subjected to sounds levels in excess of 90 dBA, some type of engineered controls should be implemented by either using some form of PPE – Personal Protective Equipment, i.e. – earplugs, earmuffs, etc. or replacing the loud device altogether with an engineered solution that is designed to reduce the sound level. When a company is found to be in violation of the Standard, OSHA hands down costly fines, in some cases nearing almost $5,000. While providing PPE may seem like the inexpensive, “quick” fix, it actually could lead to more overall cost in the form of fines or claims, as now it is the responsibility of the operator to utilize the equipment provided. The better choice of the 2 options mentioned above, would be to replace with an engineered solution that is designed to lower the sound level.

OSHA Noise Level
Noise Level Chart per OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a)

Take for example, a section of pipe with drilled holes across the length to cover wide area applications or an open end pipe or tube for more focused blowoff, both of which typically produce sound levels in excess of 100 dBA which would limit work exposure to only a couple hours per the above chart.

EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products are designed to meet or exceed this standard. Our products entrain large volumes of surrounding air across the profile of the device which helps to reduce wind shear, ultimately lowering the sound level. When considering replacing drilled pipe, take a look at our Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife produces a much lower sound level at only 69 dBA which is well under the allowable exposure times set forth by OSHA. Depending on the pipe or tube size, these can quickly and easily be replaced with one of our Super Air Nozzles by just adding a fitting to the existing line. For instance, our Model # 1100 Super Air Nozzle, with a sound level of 74 dBA, again falls well within the OSHA Standard.

sound-level-comparison
Sound Level Comparison

In addition, we offer our Digital Sound Level Meter to measure sound levels ranging from 35 to 130 dBA. The unit features a backlit LCD display, fast and slow response times, Max hold and includes NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) certification.

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Model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter

For assistance in gaining OSHA compliance relating to your compressed air needs, please give us a call.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

EXAIR Webinar: Simple Steps for Big Savings

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EXAIR Super Air Nozzle Versus and Open Blow off

EXAIR will present a free webinar hosted by Design World September 15th, 2015 at 2 pm EDT ( UTC/GMT -4 hours). I will be presenting the webinar about Intelligent Compressed Air Products. What do we mean by Intelligent Products? We are referencing nozzles that are quiet, safe, and efficient. They are engineered and manufactured to improve efficiency and limit compressed air use by entraining ambient air. The smooth lines of these nozzles produce laminar flow that reduces wind shear creating a powerful quiet blow off.

The focus of the webinar will be to quantify the cost of homemade blow offs and the return on investment of upgrading these simple installations to an engineered solution. We will base our calculations on a 20 HP Air Compressor, an 1100 Super Air Nozzle, a 1/4 Open Copper tube, and $0.08 per kWH electricity cost.

In addition to the cost of compressed air, we will cover two safety issues. First, we will cover dead end pressure. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b) limits the dead end pressure to less than 30 PSIG. We will talk about what type of nozzles do not comply with this regulation, and how engineered nozzles are designed to meet this requirement. Second, we will talk about the noise exposure standard and the effects noise will have on your facility.

The main focus of the presentation will be cost of compressed air blow offs, noise, and important OSHA standards for compressed air. We will also touch on a variety of other compressed air topics. The presentation will be sponsored by EXAIR with 31 years of end-use compressed air product manufacturing and application experience.

CLICK TO REGISTER HERE

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_DW
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com