OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 – Standard on Occupational Noise Exposure

Last week, the EXAIR Blog featured an article about the OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) – Reduction of Air Pressure below 30 psi for Cleaning Purposes.  This week, we will review another OSHA standard that affects many of you in manufacturing and other industries.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 – Standard on Occupational Noise Exposure discusses the effects of noise and sets limits for exposure.  Occupational noise can cause hearing loss, and also interfere with concentration and communication, disrupting the job performance. Below is a summary from the standard of the Permissible Noise Exposure (OSHA Table G-16)

OSHA Noise Level

From the chart, the time an employee can be exposed to loud noise is greatly reduced as the sound level goes up.   The use of hearing protection is helpful but relies on the operator to use consistently and correctly.  Ear plugs or ear muffs can be uncomfortable and hot, leading to possible reduced usage.  OSHA can come on site, and if violations to the sound level exposure limits are found, they can impose fines and mandate corrective action be taken place.

The recommended course of action when an operator is subjected to sound exceeding those in the chart above is to enable feasible administrative or engineering controls. Engineering controls is the arena in which EXAIR can be a great resource.

The first step in understanding and addressing any sound level issues is to measure the sound. The easy to use Digital Sound Meter, model 9104 shown below, allows for accurate testing of noise levels throughout the facility.  Noisy areas can be quickly identified, leading to review, design and implementation of the engineering controls.

SoundMeter_new_nist225

Some of the worst offenders for noise violations is compressed air usage.  A prime example would be inefficient blowoffs, used for cooling, drying, or cleaning.  Open pipe, copper tube or drilled pipe are a few of the common culprits.  Not only do they consume excessive amounts of compressed air, they can produce noise levels above 100 dBA.

EXAIR manufactures a wide variety of engineered products that utilize compressed air and deliver it in a controlled manner.  This allows for the most efficient use of compressed air and keeps the sound levels much lower than the inefficient methods.  A Super Air Knife can replace a drilled pipe, reducing sound by as much as 20 dBA, while using 50-70% less compressed air.  An engineered Super Air Nozzle can replace an open pipe or copper tube and reduce sound levels down to 74 dBA, and even down to 58 dBA for the smallest available nozzles.

EXAIR has been providing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.

If you have questions regarding noise limits and how to solve any issue with an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) – Dead-End Pressure and Chip Guarding Explained

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. Take a look at the animation below to see how an air embolism can affect the body.

With this in mind, there are only two options for staying within compliance of this standard. Either install an engineered solution that will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psig if dead-ended, or regulate the pressure below 30 psig. For the vast majority of operations, regulating the input pressure below 30 psig is useless. The force and flow from the nozzle at this pressure is greatly reduced and likely not enough to be effective in most applications. All of EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns 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.

sag-osha-compliant

The fins of the Super Air Nozzle allow air to escape and prevent dead-end pressure from exceeding 30 psig.

In addition to being concerned about dead-end pressure, OSHA 1910.242(b) also states that compressed air used for cleaning should include effective chip guarding. By this, they mean that some method or equipment must be installed that will prevent chips and particles from coming back into the eyes or skin of the operator. In addition to offering OSHA compliant nozzles and guns, EXAIR also has Chip Shields that can be installed onto any of our Safety Air Guns. The polycarbonate shields protect the operator from any flying debris while performing a drying or blowoff operation. Simply add a “-CS” to the end of any Safety Air Gun Model number to have a Chip Shield installed on the gun.

1210peek-cs

EXAIR’s Model 1210-PEEK-CS with Chip Shield

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not contain any provisions that allow for the approval or endorsement of equipment. Alteration or the misapplication of what was once a safe piece of equipment would create a dangerous scenario that is out of the control of the original manufacturer. Any nozzles or guns marketed as “OSHA approved” should immediately throw up a red flag. Identifying and implementing a safe, OSHA compliant solution rests in the hands of the manufacturer themselves. 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!

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

 

EXAIR Super Air Amplifiers: Saving Air, Saving Lives

 

superairamp(2)

(2) Model 120021 Super Air Amplifiers

 

I have recently had the pleasure of working with a customer developing a method of delivering air to trapped miners during a multi-man mine rescue mission. The federal government mandates that in the event of an explosion, miners must have a safe place to retreat for a minimum of 96 hours. This system will provide them with a supply of air during that period of time. In the initial stages, they had tried using some old venturis left over from a previous project. While this did work, they weren’t as effective or efficient as they needed. Through a little bit of research, they found EXAIR.

Instead of using compressed air as the source, they’re using cryogenic liquid air. That air passes through a series of cold plates and heat exchangers and gets to the Super Air Amplifier at about 70°F. This air is then carried into the chamber, giving the miners a source of clean air.

superairamp(1)

Model 120021 in prototype

 

EXAIR Super Air Amplifiers utilize a patented shim design that allows the unit to entrain ambient air at a rate of up to 25:1 from the compressed air supply. This balanced outlet airflow minimizes wind shear, producing sound levels that are typically three times quieter than other air movers. The Super Air Amplifiers are supplied with a .003” slotted air gap and can be adjusted by replacing the shim with a thicker .006” or .009” shim.

Do you have a cooling or drying application that could benefit from a Super Air Amplifier? Contact an Application Engineer today to find out how EXAIR can help you save compressed air in your application!

Tyler Daniel, Application Engineer
Tylerdaniel@exair.com
@EXAIR_TD

Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Improved Safety Benefits Employees & the Company

“Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility” is a slogan that companies around the world have adopted.

A refinery that processes palm oil from palm seeds had pipes throughout their facility to transport the oil. They would periodically have to clean the 10” diameter pipes as part of a maintenance program.  To do this, they would use a rubber plunger-like device called a pig to move through the pipe lines.  When they opened the piping system to install the pig, palm oil would leak onto the floor.  In their safety protocol, they would place adsorbent barriers around the spills and use a wet/dry vacuum to pick up the waste oil.  They would discard the liquid in a vat for disposal.  The wet/dry vacuum was limited in size to only hold 5 gallons because the operators would have to lift the container to dump the oil in the vat.  If the oil spills exceeded 5 gallons, then they would have to make multiple trips.  They wanted to get a better system as time was of the essence when you have oil on the floor.

6296 Deluxe RDV System

In speaking about their operations, they were needing to improve on their process and safety. I recommended the model 6296 Deluxe Reversible Drum Vac System.  This system uses a two-way pump and siphon tube that mounts into a 55 gallon drum easily without any modifications.  The pump uses compressed air, not electricity, to quietly generate a vacuum to a level of 96” of water. It does not have any moving parts, no motor or bearings to wear out, so it is very reliable and maintenance free.  The deluxe system comes with our Spill Recovery Kit for complete liquid pickup, a drum dolly, vacuum hose, and tool accessories with a holder.  In replacing their current system with the EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac, they could now vacuum a larger volume of liquid during excessive spillage without stopping.  Once the waste oil was vacuumed and contained, they could then just push their drum to the disposal vat.  With a simple turn of the knob, the two-way pump changes from a vacuum system to dispensing the waste oil into the vat.  This removed the need to lift any containers which could cause back damage to the operator.

Easy to change the operation

Easy to change the operation

As stated in the OSHA website, “Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses — expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today’s business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red.” Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and in using EXAIR products, you can do your part like the refinery above.

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

Excessive Noise Levels Cost You Health and Money

OSHA and the CDC make these statements about noise exposure. Did you know almost 30 million American workers are exposed to dangerous noise levels almost daily, with over 72% of those reported incidents happening in manufacturing environments? Noise induced hearing loss is the second most self-reported occupational injury and since 2004, over 125,00 workers have experienced some level of permanent hearing loss. Excessive noise levels can also reduce productivity, contribute to increased stress levels, communication errors and an irreversible condition called tinnitus or a constant ringing in the ears. In fact, disability claims associated to occupational hearing loss has risen to over $ 242 million per year.

30mill

Noise Induced Hearing Loss Is One Of The Most Common Occupational Diseases.

In effort to reduce worker exposure and increase safety, OSHA introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a). As the standard reads, employees that are subjected to sounds levels in excess of 90 dBA, some type of engineered controls should be implemented by either using some form of PPE – Personal Protective Equipment, i.e. – earplugs, earmuffs, etc. or replacing the loud device altogether with an engineered solution that is designed to reduce the sound level. When a company is found to be in violation of the Standard, OSHA hands down costly fines, in some cases nearing almost $5,000. While providing PPE may seem like the inexpensive, “quick” fix, it actually could lead to more overall cost in the form of fines or claims, as now it is the responsibility of the operator to utilize the equipment provided. The better choice of the 2 options mentioned above, would be to replace with an engineered solution that is designed to lower the sound level.

OSHA Noise Level

Noise Level Chart per OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a)

Take for example, a section of pipe with drilled holes across the length to cover wide area applications or an open end pipe or tube for more focused blowoff, both of which typically produce sound levels in excess of 100 dBA which would limit work exposure to only a couple hours per the above chart.

EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products are designed to meet or exceed this standard. Our products entrain large volumes of surrounding air across the profile of the device which helps to reduce wind shear, ultimately lowering the sound level. When considering replacing drilled pipe, take a look at our Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife produces a much lower sound level at only 69 dBA which is well under the allowable exposure times set forth by OSHA. Depending on the pipe or tube size, these can quickly and easily be replaced with one of our Super Air Nozzles by just adding a fitting to the existing line. For instance, our Model # 1100 Super Air Nozzle, with a sound level of 74 dBA, again falls well within the OSHA Standard.

sound-level-comparison

Sound Level Comparison

In addition, we offer our Digital Sound Level Meter to measure sound levels ranging from 35 to 130 dBA. The unit features a backlit LCD display, fast and slow response times, Max hold and includes NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) certification.

SoundMeter_new_nist225

Model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter

For assistance in gaining OSHA compliance relating to your compressed air needs, please give us a call.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

Quick, Cool, and Quiet – The EXAIR Adjustable Spot Cooler

I recently had the pleasure of assisting a caller with a cooling application. We’ve written before (more than once) about cooling applications & product selection, and I had a very similar conversation with this caller. Since the need was for cooling as quickly as possible to ambient temperature, the caller was keen on talking about Vortex Tubes.

This application entails operators placing small products, by hand, under the cold air flow for rapid cooling.  Now, a Vortex Tube can produce VERY low temperatures…down to -40F…so operator safety had to be addressed.  By keeping the Cold Fraction (the percentage of supply air flow which is directed to the cold end) high, we can also keep the temperature high enough to not present a hazard (i.e., frostbite) but still plenty low enough for effective cooling.

Since sound level was also a concern, we discussed mufflers…with Hot and Cold Mufflers installed on a Medium Vortex Tube (models 3215, 3225, or 3230, which were what we narrowed our discussion to,) a sound level of 81-84 dBA will be produced.  That’s within OSHA’s limits for 8-hour exposure, but isn’t exactly “communication-friendly” for operators that need to talk to each other on a regular basis.

The Model 3825 Adjustable Spot Cooler System incorporates the performance of the three Vortex Tube models that we were talking about into a convenient mag base mounted assembly, fitted with a cold muffler, flexible cold air hose, and additional sound level suppression to 72-74 dBA…which makes a significant difference in areas where operator conversation is critical.

EXAIR's Adjustable Spot Cooler provides cold air, on demand - quiet and easy!

EXAIR’s Adjustable Spot Cooler provides cold air, on demand – quiet and easy!

The temperature control knob allowed them to dial in the optimal cold air flow, keeping the temperature low enough, and flow high enough, for rapid cooling of the parts.

If you’d like to find out just how cool an EXAIR Vortex Tube/Spot Cooling Product can make your application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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