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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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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2” Flat Super Air Nozzles Separate Sheets of Metal Film

Heat Exchanger plates

An overseas company manufactures brazed plate heat exchangers. This type of heat exchanger has a series of corrugated plates that are stacked onto each other. It is designed to create a turbulent flow for better heat transfer in a very compact size. The plates inside the heat exchanger are made of 321 stainless steel which is basically a 304 type of stainless steel but with a titanium stabilizer. This company would receive plain sheets of stainless steel material that were stacked on each other in a column. The dimensions of the plates were as follows: 305mm wide by 520mm long with a thickness of 0.5mm (12” Wide X 20.5” Long X 0.02” thick respectively). Each sheet weighed 635 grams (1.4 lbs.). They would set a stack of the stainless-steel sheets at the beginning of a press machine. The press machine would form the corrugated design into the face of the sheet. They were using a pick-and-place vacuum system to lift one sheet at a time to place inside the press. They started having problems with their process when occasionally two or three sheets would stick together. The underlying sheet could either fall onto the floor which would bend the sheet or be stacked inside the press which would cause an improper corrugation. Both issues were causing much scrap as well as downtime in their process .

They contacted EXAIR to find a way to improve the efficiency of their process. They wondered if static could be causing the “sticking” issues. Generally, static forces are really noticed with sheets made of plastic or non-conductive materials. The stronger the static force, the more issues with sticking and misalignment. EXAIR does offer Static Eliminators to remove static forces in applications just like this. But, with plain metal sheets, static is not a problem as the ions are able to balance themselves.

Typically, the main cause for metal sheets to “stick” together is surface tension. Liquid like water has a strong affinity to itself within the molecular structure, called cohesion, and to the surface that it lies on, called adhesion. The cohesion plus the adhesion to the metal surface can have a strong enough force to overcome the weight of the sheets. To break the surface tension, an additional force is required.  An example of surface tension is with nylon tent material. The surface tension of water is strong enough to keep rain drops from penetrating the fabric. If you break the surface tension by touching the tent material, the surface will start to leak water. The same goes for the thin sheets of metal. We just need to break the surface tension to allow the sheets to separate.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

I recommended two pieces of the model 1122, 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles. This nozzle gives a flat air pattern to force air between the sheets. Surface tension is based on force over length. Once the sheets start to separate, the contact length will decrease thus reducing the “sticking” force caused by surface tension. In this application, the amount of cohesion and adhesion forces caused by surface tension were unknown. Oil, water, and other liquids have different surface tensions which would require different amounts of blowing forces. To ensure the proper amount to separate the sheets, I recommended the shim set, model 1132SS.

The shims have different thicknesses that can be installed easily into the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle to change the amount of blowing force.  In conjunction with a regulator, this customer could “dial” in the proper amount of force required to counteract the surface tension from any type of liquid that may be on the surface of the sheets.  I had them mount one nozzle at two different corners to help “peel” the sheets apart. The customer also tied in a solenoid valve into the compressed air system to cycle on the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles only during the time when the vacuum system wanted to grab the top sheet. This reduced the amount of compressed air needed for their operation.  After the installation, the procedure ran smoothly without downtime and scrap waste.

If your application is creating scrap and downtime caused by sheets sticking together, EXAIR has many types of products to help eliminate this. Whether the “stickiness” is caused from static or liquid adhesion, an Application Engineer can direct you to the best product to eliminate the “stickiness”. For the overseas company above, we were able to apply a sharp flat burst of air to overcome the surface tension between the sheets.

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


Heat Exchanger Plates by epicbeerCreative Common by 2.0