OSHA Says Keep Compressed Air Use Safe and Quiet: EXAIR Does Just That

The Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed by Richard Nixon in 1970. Under the United Sates Department of Labor, shortly thereafter; OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was born. OSHA is a large regulatory agency tasked to assure safe and healthy working environments by setting and enforcing standards as well as to provide training, outreach and assistance. Although some people’s first response is to cringe at the word OSHA, they have been instrumental in dramatically reducing injury rates and injury costs without negative effects on employees or companies.

Sure we can all cringe by looking up OSHA horror stories on YouTube. And many of us have a story about that one company that was fined 10’s of thousands of dollars for x, y, or z violations… But in reality, OSHA are not the bad guys. They are not looking for fines, in fact they generally give warnings and timelines to fix possible issues, prior to an incident. The fines typically are generated when companies fail to comply. Yes, I know there are always exceptions, but exceptions are not the rule. We hear and hold on to the radical stories, and the day to day, mundane stories fall to the wayside. Regardless of how we feel, we all must comply.

When it comes to EXAIR products, there are two OSHA standards that we must adhere to. One is related to “sound” and one is related to “dead end pressure“.

First let’s look at the dead end pressure. OSHA Safety requirement 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) discusses the possibilities for air embolisms when more than 30 psi is “dead ended” into your skin. EXAIR products have pathways for air to exhaust so that they cannot be “dead ended”. Each product has a way for the air to exhaust to avoid danger. Here are a couple of examples:

Air nozzles have multiple paths to exhaust pressure
Air Knives exhaust the entire path, as well as out each end

Take note that when being used properly (no horseplay) the airflow will have some path to escape and cannot be blocked. They are designed so that air will escape prior to any danger.

Next we will take a look at OSHA requirement 29 CFR-1910.95 (a). This regulation deals with occupational noise exposure. Measuring sound in decibels (dBA) the magic number is 90. Anything under 90 dBA has no limitations on how long you can be exposed to it. For a reference 60 dBA is about the sound level of a normal conversation, or an air conditioner. 70 dBA is about the noise of a washing machine, 80-85 is like city traffic. Then we start getting loud like a motorcycle around 95, shouting or barking is about 110, and standing near a siren is about 120dBA.

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.

As mentioned, 90 dBA or less is our target to avoid needing alternative solutions such as noise barriers or PPE. Nearly all EXAIR products are compliant at or under 90 dBA. The few exceptions are with some of our high force / extensive reach products such as our High Force Air Nozzles.

Please reach out at anytime if you have any questions, or want to discuss EXAIR and OSHA compliance, or any EXAIR questions at all.

Thank you for stopping by,

Brian Wages

Application Engineer

EXAIR Corporation
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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

EXAIR VariBlast® Safety Air Guns

VariBlast

EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.  In that time, we have engineered many products for new and existing markets that required better efficiency, versatility, safety, and effectiveness.  In this blog, I will discuss the features and benefits of the VariBlast Safety Air Guns.

To start, the unique feature that sets the VariBlast apart from other small air guns is the force variability.  Unlike the “all or nothing” blowing forces with most air guns, this valve is designed to control the opening to allow for a variable force with the same nozzle.  This will help you to not “overuse” the compressed air blowing. The VariBlast Safety Air Guns are made from a durable cast aluminum construction for tough industrial use.  They have a rugged ergonomic grip with a user-friendly trigger.  The compressed air inlets are located in two different positions to best fit your area.  They also have an easy storage handle to hang the Safety Air Gun nearby.  In addition to the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR has options to enhance the features.  Here is a list of them:

Air Nozzles:

Air Nozzles can make or break an air gun in safety, efficiency and effectiveness.  EXAIR Air Nozzles are OSHA compliant for noise and dead-end pressure.  We offer nine different types of air nozzles with the VariBlast Safety Air Gun; making it very effective for a range of applications.

Chip Shields

Chip Shields:

OSHA 1910.242(b) requires chip guarding when compressed air is used for cleaning and blowing.  EXAIR offers Chip Shields with the VariBlast Safety Air Guns to meet this requirement.  They are made from a polycarbonate disc which is practically unbreakable.  It protects the operator from any blow back of shavings, debris, and coolant.  They come standard with a durable rubber grommet that squeezes the extensions and can be adjusted for greater protection.

Extension Pipes:

For those far away targets and hard-to-reach areas, EXAIR offers aluminum extension pipes to attach to the VariBlast Safety Air Guns.  They can range from 6” (15 cm) to 72” (183 cm) in length.  This light-weight and durable material allows for easy handling when reaching high above your head or spanning across unsafe areas.  With the EXAIR air nozzles at the end, the blowing force is not sacrificed as the back pressure will create a high velocity air stream.

Coiled Hose

Coiled Hoses:

To get the proper amount of compressed air from the piping system to the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR offers Coiled Hoses.  They are made of a durable abrasion-resistant nylon material that is 12 feet long (3.6 meters).  They have swivel fittings to allow for easy uncoiling, and a spring strain relief to keep the hose from kinking at the ends.  The coiled design makes it easy to reach around the work area and retract back to the substation.  This will help to keep the hose off the ground where potential dangers could occur.

Regulator and filter

Filter Separators/Regulators:

To improve the VariBlast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR offers a series of filters and regulators.  The filters will remove dirty particles and liquid water from the compressed air that can affect the performance as well as contaminate the surface that you are cleaning.  The regulators are used to control the amount of air pressure used by the VariBlast Safety Air Gun; making them even more efficient.  The idea for compressed air savings is to use the least amount of compressed air to do the job.  The filter and regulator combination will allow you to control the proper amount of clean dry air to be used.

Not all air guns are the same.  A check list should be created for any air gun.  Is it safe, efficient, quiet, durable, ergonomic, and flexible?  The VariBlast Safety Air Guns meet every item on that list.  This is why the EXAIR VariBlast Safety Air Gun was awarded the Silver award by Plant Engineering in 2019.  To go even farther, EXAIR has a promotion where we will be giving away for free a model 1126 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, a $48.00 value, from now until the end of September 2020 with qualified purchases.  (Check it out HERE).  If you expected more from your current air guns, you can try any of the EXAIR Safety Air Guns.  An Application Engineer is available to help recommend the best air gun for your application.  You will not be disappointed.

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

EXAIR Flat Air Nozzles: Powerful, Quiet, Safe and Adjustable

Are you tired of your current compressed air being so loud? Well then, we have a solution for you; EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles. The patented design of the 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles makes it great for applications that require a powerful but precise flat stream of air. The Flat Super Air Nozzles work much like our Super Air Knives, the main difference being that the Flat Super Air Nozzles provides a more forceful stream of air. The design of the Flat Super Air Nozzles also provides a greatly reduced sound level.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles are safe, reliable, and efficient. The nozzles are specifically designed in a way to prevent dead head pressure as stated in OSHA Standard 1910.242(b). The directive stats that compressed air used for cleaning purposes can not exceed a dead-end pressure of 30 psig. If a dead-end pressure were to exceed that pressure then there is potential for an air embolism to form. EXAIR has designed our Flat Super Air Nozzles so that they cannot be dead-ended; this allows you to run at a typical 80-100 psig from your compressed air system.

Various Applications of Flat Super Air Nozzles

EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are designed to also be quiet while operating at those higher pressures. When operating at 80 psig the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle is going to have a sound level of 77 dBA were as the 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle when operated at 80 psig is going to have a sound level of 75 dBA. The higher the pressure the more air is going to flow through the nozzle; the more air flowing though the nozzle the louder it is going to be.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

EXAIR’s High Power Flat Super Air Nozzles are designed for those tougher applications where you need more force, and will operate at slightly louder levels. The HP series Flat Super Air Nozzles have a thicker shim in them that allows for more air to escape out the end delivering a high force. The High powered 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle when operated at 80 psig has a sound level of 83 dBA where the 1” is only 82 dBA.

All of EXAIR’s flat Super Air Nozzles are designed with an internal patented shim which allows for adjusting the total volume of airflow and force that the nozzle produces. These shims are available in different thicknesses and aid in keeping noise levels down, provide gross adjustment of airflow and the flexibility for achieving a successful application. 

If you have any questions or want more information on EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles or any of our products, 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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