I have seen over the years where OSHA inspectors has visited manufacturing plants for violations. One of the more common areas that they review are compressed air guns because many of them are very dangerous for Dead-End pressure and noise levels. All of EXAIR Safety Air Guns are OSHA compliant. But there is an additional OSHA guideline 1910.242(b) that deals with Chip guarding and shields for cleaning purposes. With these types of applications, EXAIR offers Chip Shields; either as an option with our Safety Air Guns; or as Chip Shields only, or as a Chip Shield kit. In this video, I will go over the Chip Shield Kits that will add a chip shield to your existing EXAIR Safety Air Gun.
EXAIR’s new VariBlast® Precision Safety Air Guns provide a focused blast of air capable of handling tough jobs with remarkable strength. This CE compliant, lightweight air gun uses an engineered valve for variable flow. It can produce an adjustable force upon a target simply by pulling the trigger to a variety of positions. You can generate higher or lower force as needed for an application.
A comfortable full-finger trigger and a convenient hanger loop are built-in to the Variblast Precision Safety Air Gun. It has a ¼” NPT female compressed air inlet at the base of the handle with an option for a BSP threaded adapter. One of the unique features is the replaceable extensions. They come standard with a 6” (152mm) extension. For greater reach, we offer a 12″ (305mm) or a 20″ (508mm) extension for longer reach. The body is made of high-impact, glass-reinforced nylon to resist breakage. They can also be outfitted with an impact-resistant polycarbonate Chip Shield. In combination with the EXAIR Safety Air Nozzles, the airflow that exits the nozzle can’t be blocked, assuring safe operation and compliance with OSHA standard 1910.242(b). Also, the Precision air gun has a low noise level, only 75 dBA, which is well below the limits of the OSHA noise exposure standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a). EXAIR strives to manufacture safe and efficient safety air guns, and the VariBlast Precision fits that bill.
To expand on efficiency, the engineered nozzles are designed to entrain the free ambient air to add mass to the airstream. With an amplification ratio of nearly 25:1, you only have to use a small amount of compressed air to generate a powerful, focused blast. So, by using less compressed air, it will save you a lot of money. EXAIR offers three different sizes in different materials. The largest is the Nano Super Air Nozzle, which only requires 8.3 SCFM (235 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). It is made from type 316SS or PEEK thermoplastic. The PEEK nozzle is great for non-marring applications. The smallest unit is our Atto Super Air Nozzle for very small holes. It also comes in 316SS or PEEK thermoplastic. It only uses 2.5 SCFM (71 SLPM) of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). For the “in-between” force rating, we offer the Pico Super Air Nozzle in 316SS and PEEK. For the different combinations of model numbers, I created a VariBlast chart below.
A substandard blow-off gun is unsafe, loud, and wastes compressed air. They are subject to dangerous conditions and OSHA fines. EXAIR Safety Air Guns can help improve the situation in all these areas. EXAIR stocks a wide range of safety air guns for almost any blow-off application. We stock units ranging from our smallest size; the VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns up to our largest size; the TurboBalst Safety Air Guns. From August 1st to September 30th, 2022 for qualified purchases; EXAIR will give a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle as a promotional item with a purchase of a VariBlast Precision, VariBlast Compact, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty, Super Blast, or TurboBlast Safety Air Gun; a $53.00 complimentary gift. If you have any questions about the VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns or any of our other safety air guns, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR. We will be happy to help you.
At EXAIR, we have a statement, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility”. And as a corporation, EXAIR builds our name around this by manufacturing safe and protective compressed air products. In the United States, we have an organization called 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. They can also enforce these directives with heavy fines for violations. With compressed air, the two most common violations are air guns and blow-off devices are described in 29CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure/chip shielding and 29CFR 1910.95(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 pass through from the nozzle. Other similar types of blow-off devices that would fall into this same group would include copper tube, extensions, and open pipes.
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 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 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).
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.
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 purchasing additional personal protective equipment (PPE), it will be less expensive to purchase an EXAIR product. And with the Hazard Hierarchy of Controls, 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 at EXAIR can help you. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility.
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:
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.
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.
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