Compressed Air Safety

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.

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 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).

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 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. 

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

Picture:  Safety First by Succo.  Pixabay License

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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Coanda Profiles: Who, What and How

Henri Coanda was a Romanian aeronautical engineer most known for his work developing what is today known as the Coanda effect. The Coanda effect is the propensity of a fluid to adhere to the walls of a curved surface. A moving stream of fluid will follow the curvature of the surface rather than continuing to travel in a straight line.  This effect is used in the design of an airplane wing to produce lift. The top of the wing is curved whereas the bottom of the wing remains straight. As the air comes across the wing, it adheres to the curved surface, causing it to slow down and create a higher pressure on the underside of the wing. This  is referred to as lift and is what allows an airplane to fly.

The Coanda effect is also the driving force behind many of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products. Throughout our catalog and website you’ll see us talking about air amplification ratios. EXAIR products are designed to take advantage of this phenomenon and entrain ambient air into the primary air stream. Compressed air is ejected through the small orifices creating air motion in their surroundings. Using just a small amount of compressed air as the power source, Super Air KnivesAir Nozzles, and Air Amplifiers all draw in “free” ambient air amplifying both the force and the volume of airflow.

Entrainment
EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Air Amplifier are engineered to entrain enormous amounts of air from the surrounding environment.

Super Air Knives provide the greatest amount of air amplification at a rate of 40:1, one part being the compressed air supply and 40 parts ambient air from the environment. The design of the Super Air Knife allows air to be entrained at the top and bottom of the knife, maximizing the overall volume of air. Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Amplifiers also use this effect to provide air amplification ratios of up to 25:1, depending on the model.

HowItWorks
Air Amplifiers use the Coanda Effect to generate high flow with low consumption.

The patented shim design of the Super Air Amplifier allows it to pull in dramatic amounts of free surrounding air while keeping sound levels as low as 69 dBA at 80 psig! The compressed air adheres to the Coanda profile of the plug and is directed at a high velocity through a ring-shaped nozzle. It adheres to the inside of the plug and is directed towards the outlet, inducing a high volume of surrounding air into the primary air stream.

Utilizing the Coanda effect allows for massive compressed air savings. If you would like to discuss further how this effect is applied to our Super Air Knives, Air Amplifiers, and Air Nozzles give us a call. We’d be happy to help you replace an inefficient solution with an Engineered Intelligent Compressed Air Product.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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EXAIR’s 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzles Provide Fast ROI When Replacing Inefficient Blowoffs

Any time you’re considering a new purchase your return on investment is a critical aspect of the decision-making process. An easy way to illustrate this is the use of an LED lightbulb. An LED lightbulb may cost more initially but will use less energy to operate. In addition, it’ll also have a longer lifespan than an incandescent bulb. You can calculate, down to the day, when you’ll recoup the costs difference from buying the more expensive bulb.

The same can be said for EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products. In many cases, our products are replacing a homemade, cheap, or otherwise inefficient blowoff device. Let’s walk through an example of an application where EXAIR helped save a company money by reducing their compressed air consumption.

An extrusion company had a line where they were using (3) modular-hose style flat nozzles. These products are not designed to be used with compressed air, but rather are intended for distributing liquid coolant. Despite these devices not being designed for compressed air, seeing them used for blowoff purposes is all to common in industrial applications. A total of (3) nozzles were being used to dry the material as it exited a cooling bath. While they did work for them in the application, they had begun to notice pressure drops in their compressed air system that was causing issues for other processes in the facility.

The (3) nozzles were all operated at 50 PSIG consuming 17 SCFM per nozzle for a total consumption of 51 SCFM. They were operated for one full 8-hour shift, 5 days per week.

51 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours = 24,480 SCF/day

To keep the same airflow profile, we recommended the Model 1126 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle to replace the modular hose. Operating at 50 PSIG, the 1126 will consume 7.17 SCFM of compressed air. With a total of (3) nozzles operating, that comes to 21.5 SCFM total for the drying operation.

21.5 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours = 10,320 SCF/day

By implementing the 1” Flat Super Air Nozzles, they reduced their compressed air consumption for this particular application by 57%!! But, just how quickly will that air savings provide them with a return on their investment? Let’s calculate the savings:

The average cost for compressed air is $0.25/1000 SCF. Before the installation of the Super Air Knives, the total consumption was 24,480 SCF/day.

24,480 SCF x $0.25/1000 SCF = $6.12/ day

With the Flat Super Air Nozzles, this was reduced to just 10,320 SCF/ day:

10,320 SCF x $0.25/1000 SCF = $2.58/ day

Total Savings – $3.54 each day!!!

The 2022 list price on the Model 1126 is $53.00. Since they bought (3) their total investment was $159.00.

$159.00/$3.54 = 44.92 (45 days)

On the 45th day, the customer will have saved enough money from the reduced air consumption to account for the initial purchase price of the Flat Super Air Nozzles. Once they’re paid for, it isn’t like you just stop saving money. The nozzles will continue to save money, each shift, day in and day out. In some areas, your local utility provider may also offer rebates for the installation of engineered compressed air nozzles when replacing an inefficient solution.

If there’s a process in your facility that you can improve upon, give us a call. We’re also able to test it out here at EXAIR and report back to you on the savings through our free Efficiency Lab!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Light bulb photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr Creative Commons License