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

EXAIR Compliance with OSHA 1910.242(b)

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) discusses the use of compressed air for cleaning and blowoff. It states that the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes is prohibited if the dead-ended pressure exceeds 30 psig. This phrase means the downstream pressure of the air nozzle or gun, used for cleaning purposes, will remain at a pressure level below 30 psig for all static conditions. In the event that dead ending occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. If it does exceed this pressure, there is a very high potential for it to create an air embolism. An air embolism, left untreated, can quickly impede the flow of blood throughout the body. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes death.

So making sure you are in compliance with 1910.242(b) is truly a life and death situation. Most people believe that lowering the pressure to the blow off device is the only method to keep their operators safe from an air embolism. However this can become a problem when you really need the force of greater than 30 PSIG to complete your operation. We at EXAIR want to give you the flexibility to run at any pressure with out the risk of building that 30 PSI of dead-end pressure! We do this with our line of Intelligent Compressed Air® nozzles! All of EXAIR’s Air Nozzles are designed so that the flow cannot be dead-ended. The fins on the Super Air Nozzles are not only useful in amplifying the force by drawing in ambient air, but they also prevent an operator from completely obstructing the airflow.

Another great example of this is our 2″ Flat super air nozzle. The design not only allows the nozzle to amplify the air flow in the blast of air, the over hang will not let the dead end pressure build as it can escape around the edges and bottom!

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

If you’ve got questions about compressed air safety or have an existing blowoff in place that does not adhere to this OSHA directive, give us a call. We’ll be sure to recommend a solution that will keep your operators and wallets safe!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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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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