OSHA and Compressed Air Safety; Things to Review.

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – our Compliance Certificate is available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree lights should have labels showing their current ratings – check these so you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

At EXAIR, we have a statement that says, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”  As a corporation, EXAIR builds its name around this by manufacturing safe and protective compressed air products.  In the United States, we have an organization called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, that enforces governmental directives for safe and healthy working environments.  They do training, outreach programs, and educational assistance for manufacturing plants to reduce injuries and fatalities.  They can also enforce these directives with heavy fines for violations.  With the compressed air system, the two most common violations are 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure/chip shielding and 29CFR 1910.95(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure.

Unsafe Nozzle

Above is an example of a nozzle that is dangerous.  As you can see, there is only one path where the air can pass through and this path could be blocked.  Other similar types of blow-off devices that would fall into this same group would include copper tubes, flexible lines, and open pipes.  They are dangerous as the compressed air cannot escape if it is blocked by your body or skin.  If operated above 30 PSIG (2 bar), the air from these nozzles could penetrate the skin and 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 allow the air to escape and prevent blockage of the airflow.  So, you can use the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles safely above 30 PSIG (2 bar) and remain OSHA safe.

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 CDC reports that in 2007, “82% of the cases involving occupational hearing loss were reported among workers in the manufacturing sector.” Compressed air and pneumatic equipment are significant contributors to the noise exposure. OSHA created a chart to show the maximum allowable noise exposure.  This chart shows the exposure time and noise limits before requiring hearing protection.  The EXAIR Super Air Nozzles, Super Air Knives, and Super Air Amplifiers are designed to have laminar flow, which makes them 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 danger.  The most effective way is by eliminating the hazard or by 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 avoid any future fines or having to purchase additional personal protective equipment (PPE), it will be less expensive and a preferred safety method to purchase an EXAIR product.  As in that above Hazard Hierarchy of Controls chart, EXAIR products are that engineered solution.  If you would like to improve the safety in your facility, move up to an engineered solution, and reduce energy costs; an Application Engineer at EXAIR can review your current blow-off devices.  Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility. 

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

Sound Levels in Your Facility

One of the most common and dangerous hazards that occur within a manufacturing and production facility is the noise level within the plant. Noise is measured in units known as decibels. Decibels are a ratio of the power level of the sound compared to a logarithmic scale. If an employee is an exposed for too long to high levels of noise, they can begin to lose their hearing. That is where the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 regulation comes into play.

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.

This OSHA standard doesn’t just provide the protection against noise in the work place but monitoring as well. Companies shall provide at no cost audiometric tests for all employees to ensure that no damage is being to the hearing of all personnel. This program is to be repeated every six months and the results are to be made accessible to all personnel.                

Hearing is very important to our everyday lives and must be protected due to the fact that once it is damaged hearing loss cannot be lost be repaired. The OHSA 29 CFR 1910.95 is there to protect and monitor this dangerous hazard in the workplace so that all employees can go home safe and sound.

Here at EXAIR we design all of our products to safe and quite. Weather it is using one of our mufflers for vortex tubes or E-vac’s or one of our Super air nozzles we strive to meet and exceed the OSHA standard. One could also purchase EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter which can give a accurate and responsive reading of how loud your compressed air sources are.

For more information on EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter and any of EXAIR‘s 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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Mufflers to Protect Manufacturing Workers Hearing

Mufflers

Many manufacturing plants have a strong focus on safety for their workers.  One major safety concern that is overlooked is noise.   OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has a directive that defines the noise exposure over time; 29CFR 1910.95(a).   For an eight-hour day, the maximum noise level is 90 dBA.  Hearing loss is irreversible, but it can be preventable.  The CDC, Center for Disease Control, and NIOSH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, report that “approximately 18% of all manufacturing workers have hearing difficulty”1

EXAIR manufactures engineered products to reduce noise levels in the work environment.  We offer Super Air Nozzles and Safety Air Guns for blow-off applications and pneumatic mufflers for discharge exhaust.  In this blog, I will cover the different types of EXAIR Mufflers that we offer.   

  1. Reclassifying Mufflers are designed to have two functions. They can cut noise levels by 35 dB and remove oil mist from the exhaust air.  Cylinders and valves that exhaust pressurized air may have oil in the line to keep the seals from sticking.  When exhausted, it can create a fine mist which is dangerous for operators.  The Reclassifying Mufflers can reduce the loud noise as well as collect any contamination from the exhaust air.
  2. Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, cost effective, and easy to install. They have a minimal back pressure to not restrict operations of the pneumatic device.  They come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2” NPT.  For a quick and simple way to reduce noise, the Sintered Bronze Mufflers are in stock for fast delivery.
  3. Straight-Through Mufflers offer a way to reduce noise levels without worrying about clogging. They have an aluminum shell lined with sound absorbing foam, and they can reduce the noise level by 20 dB.  EXAIR offers them with ports of ¼” NPT, 3/8” NPT, and ¾” NPT.  One side has a female thread while the opposite side will have a male thread.  This can allow you to connect other items like hose kits to reduce noise.
  4. Heavy Duty Mufflers are used within aggressive environments.  They have an outer aluminum shell with an internal stainless-steel screen.  They protect components like valves and cylinders from contamination entering into the part.  And, the Heavy Duty Muffler can keep contaminant like rust from being ejected at high speed into the work area. They have a typical noise reduction of 14 dB.

Here is a test for you.  If you go and stand in your plant, you can probably hear loud noises coming from your compressed air system.  EXAIR has an engineered product to solve most of them.  On the Hierarchy of Controls for NIOSH, Personal Protection Equipment, PPE, is the least effective.  A better control would be to isolate your operators from the hazard with an engineered product.  EXAIR can offer that solution for many of your blow-offs and pneumatic discharges to reduce noise levels.  This would include; and not limited to; Super Air Nozzles, Safety Air Guns, Super Air Knives, and Mufflers.  If you wish to discuss further the safety improvements that EXAIR can provide, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help. 

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

Note 1: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ohl/manufacturing.html

EXAIR Product Overview: Mufflers

Noise, we all hate it to some extent. From the hustle and bustle of crowed streets to the whine of a jet engine noise has plagued the world for eons leaving people to search for a way to escape into a moment of peace and quiet. The majority of people that I know pack their massive over sized backpacks and head deep into the mountains for days on end to escape the noise sometimes traveling for 10+ miles at a time. But how can we help eliminate this monstrosity that we have created in our manufacturing environments? The answer is mufflers, and no I don’t mean your car muffler (although they do the same thing) I mean compressed air mufflers. Compressed air can be a loud utility inside of a plant environment and exceed the OSHA guidelines for personnel noise exposure. But this noise can easily be mitigated with the use of Intelligent compressed air products and mufflers.

Big Sandy Lake Trail – Wind River Range State Park, WY

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) outlines the total noise exposure to a particular noise level per day and dictates that noise exposure at or above 85 decibels require ear protection. By placing a muffler on the end of the pipe one can reduce the sound level significantly to the point it could be the difference between having to wear ear protection and not having to. With that being said EXAIR offers four different types of mufflers to choose from and they are Reclassifying, Sintered Bronze, Straight-Through, and Heavy Duty.

Reclassifying mufflers offer the best noise reduction at 35 dB and have the added benefit of removing oil mist from the air line. This means that the Reclassifying mufflers are ideal for pneumatic cylinders. Per OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1000 worker shall not be exposed to more than 5mg/m3 of oil by volume in a 40-hour work week. The patented design of the removable element separates oil from the exhausted air and meets or exceeds the OSHA Standard.

Sintered Bronze Mufflers are an excellent low-cost solution which can be easily installed into your current existing ports. These mufflers also come in the largest variety of different sizes ranging from thread sizes of #10-32 to 1.5” NPT. Also, the Sintered Bronze Mufflers are specifically designed to provide the minimal amount of back pressure and restriction. The main difference between these mufflers and the reclassifying is that the Sintered Bronze Mufflers cannot collect oil out of the exhaust.

The quick pick chart for easily choosing which muffler you need

If the process air needs to be directly plumbed away from personnel, then the Straight-Through Muffler is the way to go. Straight-Through Mufflers are ideal for situations that require both a threaded inlet and exhaust. In most applications you will see the Straight-Through Muffler pair with our E-Vac vacuum generators or Vortex Tubes to provide noise reduction of the unit. All in all, the Straight-Through Muffler can reduce noise levels up to 20 dB.

Model 3913 Straight-Through Muffler

Lastly, the Heavy Duty Muffler provides a corrosion resistant aluminum outer shell with a stainless steel inner screen. This design allows the muffler to catch any contaminants such as rust from being ejected potentially causing harm or quality defects. Typically, this muffle will reduce noise levels up to 14 dB.

Model 3903 Heavy Duty Muffler

If you have any questions or want more information on EXAIR’s E-Vacs and their Accessories. Give us a call, we have a team of application engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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