Many manufacturing plants have a strong focus on safety for their workers. One major safety concern that is overlooked is noise. OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has a directive that defines the noise exposure over time; 29CFR 1910.95(a). For an eight-hour day, the maximum noise level is 90 dBA. Hearing loss is irreversible, but it can be preventable. The CDC, Center for Disease Control, and NIOSH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, report that “approximately 18% of all manufacturing workers have hearing difficulty”1.
EXAIR manufactures engineered products to reduce noise levels in the work environment. We offer Super Air Nozzles and Safety Air Guns for blow-off applications and pneumatic mufflers for discharge exhaust. In this blog, I will cover the different types of EXAIR Mufflers that we offer.
Reclassifying Mufflers are designed to have two functions. They can cut noise levels by 35 dB and remove oil mist from the exhaust air. Cylinders and valves that exhaust pressurized air may have oil in the line to keep the seals from sticking. When exhausted, it can create a fine mist which is dangerous for operators. The Reclassifying Mufflers can reduce the loud noise as well as collect any contamination from the exhaust air.
Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, cost effective, and easy to install. They have a minimal back pressure to not restrict operations of the pneumatic device. They come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2” NPT. For a quick and simple way to reduce noise, the Sintered Bronze Mufflers are in stock for fast delivery.
Straight-Through Mufflers offer a way to reduce noise levels without worrying about clogging. They have an aluminum shell lined with sound absorbing foam, and they can reduce the noise level by 20 dB. EXAIR offers them with ports of ¼” NPT, 3/8” NPT, and ¾” NPT. One side has a female thread while the opposite side will have a male thread. This can allow you to connect other items like hose kits to reduce noise.
Heavy Duty Mufflers are used within aggressive environments. They have an outer aluminum shell with an internal stainless-steel screen. They protect components like valves and cylinders from contamination entering into the part. And, the Heavy Duty Muffler can keep contaminant like rust from being ejected at high speed into the work area. They have a typical noise reduction of 14 dB.
Here is a test for you. If you go and stand in your plant, you can probably hear loud noises coming from your compressed air system. EXAIR has an engineered product to solve most of them. On the Hierarchy of Controls for NIOSH, Personal Protection Equipment, PPE, is the least effective. A better control would be to isolate your operators from the hazard with an engineered product. EXAIR can offer that solution for many of your blow-offs and pneumatic discharges to reduce noise levels. This would include; and not limited to; Super Air Nozzles, Safety Air Guns, Super Air Knives, and Mufflers. If you wish to discuss further the safety improvements that EXAIR can provide, you can contact an Application Engineer. We will be happy to help.
EXAIR uses many different methods to connect with our customers. We have our website, social media, blogs, publications etc. We like to share solutions for some of the most common pneumatic problems in industry. EXAIR generates a large collection of application information where EXAIR products have already solved problems and improved processes. We organized them by Application and by Industry. In this blog, I will show you how to use our Application database; specifically, for the Medical Industry.
Compressed Air Systems are considered to be a fourth utility within industries because they use a large amount of energy. Whether an air compressor that uses fuel for portable units or that uses electricity, it is important to use this system as efficiently as possible. This would also apply to the Automotive industry. EXAIR has a library of different processes in which we already improved these areas safely and efficiently. If you are part of the Automotive industry, it could benefit you to take a peek at the areas that we already improved, established OSHA safety, and saved money.
Here is how you can find this library. First, you will have to sign into EXAIR. Click here: Log In. Once you fill in the proper information, you can then retrieve a great amount of resources about EXAIR products that we manufacture. The Application database is under the Resources tab. (Reference photo below).
At the Application Search Library, we have over one thousand applications that we reference. In the left selection pane, we organized then in alphabetical order under two categories, Application and Industry.
Scroll down in the selection pane until you come to the sub-category: Industry. Under this Sub-category, you will find three selections that are related to this blog: Medical, Health and Beauty, and Healthcare. We have other applications as well that may relate to your specific processes if you scroll up and down the list. You will find many product applications that have already improved processes and solved problems.
Why is this important? If you are a plant manager or owner, the value of the Application Database can improve your current processes with pre-qualified results. Within the Automotive industry, simple solutions can be found to address those “nagging” issues that you see every day. For crisis situations and shutdowns, EXAIR categorized these applications in a way to reference quickly and easily. And since EXAIR has a high volume of stocked items, we can get the parts to you very fast so you can quickly be on your way to a solution.
In today’s market, companies are always looking for ways to cut cost, increase productivity, and improve safety. EXAIR can offer engineered products to do exactly that. With the “been there and done that” solutions already described in the Application Database; you can have confidence in finding a way in solving pneumatic issues. If you do not sign up at www.EXAIR.com and take advantage of these offerings, you will be missing out on a great tool to optimize your compressed air system.
Last year I hosted a Webinar about the NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls and compressed air safety! You can watch that here on our website!
The hierarchy of controls is a strategy that originates from NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. This hierarchy is their recommendation for increasing safety for personnel by taking specific steps and how each step increases safety moving from bottom to top of the pyramid. In this blog I will explain the main elements of the HIERARCHY OF CONTROLS and illustrate how to reach the highest level of control with important compressed air safety standards.
The least effective methods are Administrative Controls and Personal Protective Equipment (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 is the least effective method because the personnel themselves make the choice to wear them or not wear them in any particular situation. They can be trained on the risks of not using PPE equipment (ear plugs, gloves, respirators, etc.) but we all know it does not always get used. PPE can also 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 so the hazard is no longer part of the process.
EXAIR can help your company follow the Hierarchy of Controls, and eliminate, or substitute the hazards of compressed air use with relative ease.
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. EXAIR products can be easily substituted for existing, unsafe compressed air products in many cases. And to avoid the hazard altogether, remember EXAIR when designing products or processes which require compressed air use for cooling, cleaning, ejection, and more.
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
If you look at operating costs alone, compressed air can be just about the most inefficient method there is for cleaning parts. If you just look at the risks, it’s potentially very dangerous too. Don’t even get me started on the insufferable noise it can make.
For cleaning parts, most folks are familiar with the use of an air gun. You can find the simplest of these in many industrial settings: a valve (often in the form of a handheld trigger device) fitted with a nozzle of some sort (often in the form of an open ended tube, pipe, or fitting to focus or direct the air flow). These have all three of the “downsides” I opened this blog with. Of course, these concerns can be mitigated to a high degree by using the right tool for the job. That’s where engineered products like EXAIR Safety Air Guns come in. Let’s look at how we can address these three “downsides”:
Efficiency: This is all about compressed air consumption. In the simplest of air guns mentioned above, consumption is only limited by the passages in the valve (or trigger) and the discharge fitting…and those limits are usually negligible. Modifying the ends (see examples below) to focus the air flow usually has minimal effect, because you’re not appreciably changing the total cross sectional area of the discharge opening:
Safety: Remember learning about kinetic and potential energy in grade school? Well, when you compress air to 100psig, fitting all that air into a much smaller space creates a TREMENDOUS amount of potential energy:
One problem with the thumb guns above is, if you were to jam into the palm of your hand and pull the trigger, a large component of that potential energy (pressure) turns into kinetic energy (force)…more than enough to break the skin and cause a potentially fatal condition known as an air embolism. In the United States, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulates compressed air devices used for cleaning purposes. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b) by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet)
Noise: Another problem is, another component is turned into sound pressure…discharging air from a direct opening is quite loud. OSHA standards address these with limitations on outlet pressure and sound level. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b), which limits the outlet pressure (by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet) and all but our largest Super Blast Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.95(a) limits for continuous 8 hour sound level exposure.
Which brings us to the topic of this blog: How exactly did THEY (our customer who used to use the thumb guns above) select the right Safety Air Gun, and how can we apply that to getting the right Safety Air Gun for YOU?
These steps aren’t all-inclusive, and they don’t necessarily need to be followed in order, but if you call an EXAIR Application Engineer about selecting a Safety Air Gun, here’s what we’re gonna talk about:
Airflow pattern: Honestly, I could make a good case for this being the first consideration. Selection of any blowoff product – be it an Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, Air Knife, Air Wipe, etc., will largely depend on the size and shape of the airflow.
For the most precise, focused blowoff, our Atto Super Air Nozzle (top left) is a great choice. It’s available on:
When stubborn, heavy, and/or LOTS of debris needs to be absolutely, positively blown off RIGHT NOW, our High Force Super Air Nozzles may be just what you need. Our largest; Model 1120 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle, is shown (above right). The High Force Super Air Nozzles are offered on:
Soft Grip or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun (up to 3.3 pounds of force over a 6.3″ wide area @12″ away)
Application specific concerns: Everything we’ve discussed so far has involved aiming the blow off stream away from the operator, in the direction the device is aimed. In addition to wide variety of engineered Air Nozzles, EXAIR offers a number of options for these products:
If you’re looking for a portable, hand-held compressed air blow off product that’s quiet, safe, and efficient, look no further than EXAIR Corporation’s extensive line of Safety Air Guns. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.
Russ Bowman, CCASS
Application Engineer EXAIR Corporation Visit us on the Web Follow me on Twitter Like us on Facebook