Minimize Exposure to Hazards Using the Hierarchy of Controls

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) published a useful guide called “Hierarchy of Controls” that details (5) different types of control methods for exposure to occupational hazards while showing the relative effectiveness of each method.

CDC Hierarchy of Controls

The least effective methods are Administrative Controls and PPE. Administrative Controls involve making changes to the way people perform the work and promoting safe practices through training. The training could be related to correct operating procedures, keeping the workplace clean, emergency response to incidents, and personal hygiene practices, such as proper hand washing after handling hazardous materials. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the least effective method because the equipment (ear plugs, gloves, respirators, etc.) can become damaged, may be uncomfortable and not used, or used incorrectly.

In the middle range of effectiveness is Engineering Controls. These controls are implemented by design changes to the equipment or process to reduce or eliminate the hazard. Good engineering controls can be very effective in protecting people regardless of the the actions and behaviors of the workers. While higher in initial cost than Administrative controls or PPE, typically operating costs are lower, and a cost saving may be realized in the long run.

The final two, Elimination and Substitution are the most effective but can be the most difficult to integrate into an existing process. If the process is still in the design phase, it may be easier and less expensive to eliminate or substitute the hazard. Elimination of the hazard would be the ultimate and most effective method, either by removing the hazard altogether, or changing the work process to the hazardous task is no longer performed.

EXAIR can help your company follow the Hierarchy of Controls, and eliminate, or reduce the hazards of compressed air usage.

Engineers can eliminate loud and unsafe pressure nozzles with designs that utilize quiet and pressure safe engineered air products such as Air Nozzles, Air Knives and Air Amplifiers. Also, unsafe existing products such as air guns, can be substituted with EXAIR engineered solutions that meet the OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a).


In summary, Elimination and Substitution are the most effective methods and should be used whenever possible to reduce or eliminate the hazard and keep people safe in the workplace.

If you have questions about the Hierarchy of Controls and safe compressed air usage from any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Reduce Sound Level in your Factory, Improve Worker Safety and Comfort

Checking the sound level in your processes is an important aspect of ensuring a safe working environment for your employees. Loud noises and the exposure time can lead to significant health concerns. Permanent hearing loss, increased stress levels due to the uncomfortable work environment, and potential injury due to lack of concentration or inability to hear the surroundings are all examples of some risks associated with a noisy environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known by most simply as OSHA, introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a means of protecting operators from injury associated with high noise levels. The chart below indicates maximum allowable exposure time based on different noise levels. At just 90 dBA, an operator can operate safely for 8 hours. Open end pipe blowoffs and some air guns fitted with cross drilled relief holes will often result in noise levels in excess of 100 dBA. At 110 dBA, permanent hearing loss can be experienced in just 30 minutes!

OSHA Chart

The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.


From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud cross-drilled nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only will they pay for themselves over time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!!

Drilled pipe is another common culprit of high noise levels. Rather than purchasing an engineered solution, the idea is that a simple drilled pipe is just as effective right? Not at all!! Not only does a drilled pipe produce exceptionally high sound levels, but the amount of compressed air used is also very inefficient. EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and has a sound level of just 69 dBA at 80 PSIG. At this sound level, operators won’t even require hearing protection at all!

SAK vs drilled pipe
EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for replacing noisy, inefficient drilled pipe

With all of these products available in stock, EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

What is Sound and Interesting Facts About Sound

In physics, sound is a wave of pressure. It occurs in a medium, which can be a solid, liquid or gas. Sound cannot travel through a vacuum, such as in space. The wave of pressure reaches our ears and causes the ear drum to vibrate, which then goes through a complex process to ultimately be perceived as audible sound.

There are several characteristics of sound waves that can be measured and help define the sound. A sound wave can be visualized as a repeating sinusoidal wave (see below), and can be described by these properties – frequency and wavelength, amplitude, and speed.

Sound Wave
Sound Wave
  • Frequency is the number of cycles in 1 second, and is measured in Hertz (Hz)
  • Wavelength is the distance over which 1 cycle occurs, and for audible sound is  between 17 m and 17 mm long
  • Amplitude is the measure of its change over a single period, and normally a measure of sound loudness
  • Speed is the distance traveled per unit time

The speed of sound in air can be found using the equation:  a = Sqrt (γ•R•T)

where for air:
γ = ratio of specific heats = 1.4,
R = gas constant = 286 m²/s²/K
T = absolute temperature in °K (273.15 + °C)

At room temperature, 22°C (71.6°F), the speed of sound is 343.8 m/s (760 mph)

Some interesting facts about sound:

  • Sounds generally travels faster in solids and liquids than in gases.
  • You can estimate the distance from a lightning strike by counting the seconds that pass between seeing the lightning flash and hearing the thunder.  Take this duration an divide by 5 to get the distance away, in miles.
  • Humans normally hear sound frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.
  • Sound waves above 20,000 Hz are known as ultrasound, and sound waves below 20 Hz are known as infrasound.
  • Sound travel through water close to 4 times faster then through air.
  • The sound of a cracking whip occurs because the speed of the tip has exceeded the speed of sound.

Sound that is too loud can be a problem. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits on the noise exposure that an employee can be subjected. Exceeding these values can cause permanent damage to your ears and cause noise induced hearing loss. So, knowing and reducing the sound levels within a manufacturing operation is important.

OSHA Chart

EXAIR has many products that can help reduce the sound levels in your processes.  With products such Air Knives, Air Wipes, Air Amplifiers, Air Nozzles and Jets, and Safety Air Guns, strong, quiet and efficient blowoff, drying, and cooling can be performed.

Quiet Products

If you have questions about sound and keeping your sound levels in check or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Understanding Decibels & Why OSHA Pays Attention to Your Noise Exposure

In the simplest of metric terms, a decibel is one-tenth of a bel.  But, historically, bel was a unit created to honor Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone.  In the early days with telephone wires, they noticed that the signal strength would decay over a long distance.  In order to determine power requirements to connect people for communications, they determined that they could use the ratio of power levels.  As a start, it had to be based on a minimum amount of power required for a person to hear on the telephone.  They found that the signal power level to generate an angular frequency of 5000 radians per second would be that minimum value as determined by an average number of people.  They used this mark as a reference point in the ratio of power levels.  Because of the large variations in values, they simplified the equation on a base-10 log scale and dividing the bel unit by 10.  Thus, creating the measurement of decibel.

Today, this same method is used to measure sound.  Like frequency waves that travel through the telephone wires, pressure waves travel through the air as sound.  This sound pressure is what our ears can detect as loudness, and it has a pressure unit of Pascals (Pa).  As an example, a small sound pressure would be like a whisper while a large sound pressure would be like a jet engine.  This is very important to know as high sound pressures, or loudness, can permanently damage our ears.

With sound pressures, we can determine the Sound Pressure Level (SPL) which is measured in decibels (dB).  Similar to the equation for the telephone power signals above, the SPL also uses a ratio of sound pressures in a base-10 logarithmic scale.  For a minimum reference point, an average human can just start to hear a sound pressure at 0.00002 Pa.  So, the equation for measuring sound levels will use this minimum reference point as shown in Equation 1.

Equation 1:

L = 20 * Log10 (p/pref)


L – Sound Pressure Level, dB

p – Sound pressure, Pa

pref – reference sound pressure, 0.00002 Pa

Why is this important to know the decibels?  OSHA created a chart in 29CFR-1910.95(a) that shows the different noise levels with exposure times.  This chart was created to protect the operators from hearing loss in work environments.  If the noise level exceeds the limit, then the operators will have to wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), or suffer hearing damage.  EXAIR offers a Sound Level Meter, model 9104, to measure sound levels in decibels.  It comes calibrated to accurately measure the sound to determine if you have a safe work environment.

Sound Level Meter

There is a term that is used when it comes to loud noises, NIHL.  This stands for Noise Induced Hearing Loss.  Once hearing is damaged, it will not come back.  To keep your operators safe and reduce NIHL, EXAIR offers many different types of blow-off products that are designed to decrease noise to a safe level.  So, here’s to Alexander Graham Bell for creating the telephone which can be used to contact EXAIR if you have any questions.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb


Photo of Telephone by Alexas_FotosCC0 Create Commons

Video Blog: EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

If you’d like to know how efficient (or not,) quiet (or not,) and effective (or not) your current compressed air devices are, the EXAIR Efficiency Lab can help.  For more details, we hope you’ll enjoy this short video.

If you’d like to talk about getting the most out of your compressed air system, we’d love to hear from you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Calculating Static Friction To Eject Parts with Air

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

In today’s fast-paced world, companies are always looking for ways to do things faster, cheaper, more efficiently without sacrificing safety.

A cereal company had a high-speed system to check the quality of each box of cereal.  When a box did not meet the quality criteria for visual and/or weight, the box would be rejected.  The rejection system that they used was a quick blast of compressed air to remove the box from the conveyor line into a non-conforming bin.  For their first attempt, they tried to use a ¼” copper tube with a solenoid valve attached to a reservoir tank.  When a “bad” box was detected, the solenoid would be triggered, and compressed air would “shoot” the box off the rubber conveyor belt.  The ¼” copper tube can be an inexpensive, common, and easy-to-use device; but they found that the copper tube was very loud (above OSHA limits for noise exposure) and not very effective.  As a note, this company had a safety committee, and they wanted to keep all blowing devices below 80 dBA in this department.  The ¼” copper tube was around 100 dBA.  So, they contacted EXAIR to get our expertise on this type of application.

The cereal company gave me some additional details of the operation.  The box weighed 26 oz. (740 grams) with a dimension of 7.5″  wide by  11″ tall by  2 3/4″ deep (19 cm X 28 cm X 7 cm respectively).  The issue with the ¼” copper tube was the small target area compared to the area of the box.  With any slight variation in the timing sequence, the force would miss the center of mass of the box.  The box could then spin and remain on the conveyor belt.  This would cause stoppage and disruption in the system.  They asked if EXAIR had a better way to remove the defective boxes.

I recommended a model 1122, 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle.  The reason for this style of nozzle was for a variety of reasons.  First, we needed a larger area to “hit” the box.  This Flat Super Air Nozzle has a width of 2” versus the ¼” copper tube.  This increased the target area by 8 times.  So, any small variations in time, we could still hit the center of mass and remove the box.  The second reason was the force rating.  The model 1122 has a force of 22 oz. (624 grams) at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  This is slightly under the 26 oz. (740 grams) weight of the cereal box, but we are just sliding the box and not lifting it.  If we can overcome the static friction, then the box can be easily removed.  With Equation 1, we can calculate the required force.

Equation 1:

Fs = ms * W

Fs – Static Force (grams)

m– Static Friction

W – Weight (grams)

From the “Engineering Toolbox”, the static friction between rubber and cardboard is between 0.5 to 0.8.  If I take the worse case condition, I can calculate the static force between the belt and cereal box using Equation 1:

Fs = 0.8 * 740 grams

Fs = 592 grams

The model 1122 has a force of 22 oz. (624 grams), so plenty enough force to move the box from the rubber conveyor belt.

The third reason for this nozzle is the noise level.  The noise level of the model 1122 is 77 dBA, well below the safety requirement for this company.  Noise levels are very important in industries to protect operators from hearing loss, and the model 1122 was able to easily meet that requirement.  I added an additional reason for recommending the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle; compressed air savings.  Companies sometimes overlook the cost when using compressed air for blow-off devices.  In this comparison, the ¼” copper tube will use 33 SCFM (934 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar) while the model 1122 will only use 21.8 SCFM (622 SLPM).  This is a 33% reduction in compressed air; saving them money.

At the intro, I mentioned that companies are looking to do things faster, cheaper, more effective without sacrificing safety.  For this company, we were able to increase production rates by removing every cereal box from the conveyor belt.  We also saved them money by reducing the compressed air requirement as well as keeping it safe by reducing noise.

If you have an application that needs products to be moved by air, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to help you with a solution.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

“Go Green” in 2019 With EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles & Jets!

If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2019 is to help improve your impact on the environment, look no further than EXAIR’s Engineered Air Nozzles & Jets. By upgrading your blowoff, cooling, and drying operations to use one of our Super Air Nozzles or Jets you can save as much as 80% of your compressed air usage when compared with an inefficient solution.

open tubes
Example of a manifold of open pipes

An open copper pipe or tube, even if “flattened” as we’ll commonly see, wastes an excessive amount of compressed air. This wasted compressed air can create problems in the facility due to unnecessarily high energy costs and the pressure drop that can be experienced affecting other processes. In addition to simply using too much compressed air, an open pipe or tube will often produce sound levels in excess of 100 dBA. At these sound levels, according to OSHA, permanent hearing damage will occur in just 2 hours of exposure.

OSHA Chart

By simply replacing the open tubes and pipe with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle, you can quickly reduce air consumption AND reduce the sound level. Sound level isn’t the only thing an OSHA inspector is going to be concerned about regarding an open pipe blowoff, in addition OSHA 1910.242(b) states that a compressed air nozzle used for blowoff or cleaning purposes cannot be dead-ended when using with pressures in excess of 30 psig. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use an air gun with 30 psig fed to it, but the effectiveness of it is dramatically reduced. This is why there needs to be a device installed that’ll prevent it from being dead-ended so that you can operate at a higher pressure.

EXAIR Super Air Nozzle entrainment

EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are designed with fins that serve two purposes. They help to entrain ambient air from the environment, allowing us to maximize the force and flow from the nozzle but keeping the compressed air consumption minimal. In addition, these fins are what prevents the nozzle openings from being completely blocked off. Using an OSHA compliant compressed air nozzle for all points where a blowoff operation is being performed should be a priority. Each individual infraction will result in a fine if you’re subject to an OSHA inspection. Inspections are typically unannounced, so it’s important to take a look around your shop and make sure you’re using approved products.

The fins along the outside of the Super Air Nozzle prevent it from being dead-ended

So, go ahead and make 2019 the year of energy savings, increased efficiency, and improving worker safety. You’ll find all of the tools you need in EXAIR’s 32nd edition of the catalog. Click here if you’d like a hard copy sent directly to you! Or, get in touch with us today to find out how you can get saving with an Intelligent Compressed Air Product.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD