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.


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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Reduce Noise Exposure with Super Air Nozzles

News from the CDC that those of us involved with industrial safety are paying close attention to is the release of their NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) division’s Hazard Evaluation Program Noise Measurement Database, which contains data obtained through Health Hazard Evaluation surveys performed between 1996 and 2012. It includes hundreds of personal noise exposure measurements (how much noise was received by individuals) and almost as many area noise measurements (how much noise was made.) A comparison of these measurements, of course, is valuable in determining if appropriate measures are being taken to abate the exposure, which is key: there are an awful lot of industrial processes where there’s nothing that can be done about the generation of noise…they’re just simply LOUD. So, they focus on what they can do to limit exposure: Use engineering controls (retrofit open line with engineered nozzles, build sound barriers) , use administrative controls (relocating personnel away from the sound), use personal protective equipment, and spending as little time as possible near the source.

Regardless of what people can get used to, the area noise associated with compressed air use CAN be reduced, while still maintaining the efficiency of the operation. Here’s the deal:

*The most basic form of air blow off is a piece of pipe, tubing, or hose connected to a source of compressed air. When it’s opened to the atmosphere, the compressed air exits with a great deal of force. This makes quite a racket, and the only way to quiet it down is to reduce the air supply pressure. Then you get less force, however, and it might not get the job done.

*Engineered air nozzles, such as EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles, solve this problem by design:

air nozzle flow

The compressed air supply (black arrow) uses the Coanda effect when it exits the series of holes recessed in the array of fins (dark blue arrows.) This serves to entrain an enormous amount of air from the surrounding environment (light blue arrows,) which not only results in a high volume flow rate at minimal consumption, but also makes the resultant air flow very quiet.

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are quiet, efficient, and easy to get…we maintain inventory of anything you see in the Catalog, all available for same day shipment. If you’d like to know how EXAIR products can be easy on your ears…and your wallet…give me a call!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Common Sense…Of Hearing

When I was eight years old, on one very special Saturday morning every month, my Dad would take me and my brother to downtown Cincinnati, where we’d have breakfast and visit the Carew Tower, which, until earlier this year, was the tallest building in the city. We always went to the observation deck, regardless of the weather. Those trips were among the greatest father/sons moments in history, I’m convinced. I got to see my Dad, a simple country man who was completely out of his element in this urban setting, approach a beggar and slip him some change. With that, I learned about discreet charity and unpretentious humility. One particularly unforgettable morning, over pancakes at our usual diner stop, my Dad noticed that Johnny Bench was sitting two booths down, and encouraged my brother and me to go say hi. Now, this was 1975, when the Big Red Machine was invincible, and Mr. Bench was the Most Important Man In The World. He made me feel like the Most Important Kid In The World that morning, so I thank him…and my Dad…for that.

My Dad was a master of finding, and exploiting, the proverbial silver lining…see, the reason he was making these exciting monthly treks to the Big City was because he was losing his hearing, and was getting his new hearing aids “tuned in” at his doctor’s office, which was located in the Carew Tower. He never let the dark cloud of going deaf get in the way of providing a few hours of excitement and adventure for his sons.

His hearing worsened to a point past the usefulness of hearing aids, and it became a genuine quality-of-life issue in his last few years. I’m serious about preserving my hearing, and being a self-appointed advocate for hearing protection, because of this. OSHA has published a table of Permissible Noise Exposures, which anyone who is regularly exposed to above-conversation-levels of noise should be familiar with. If you wear hearing protection religiously in these environments, good for you. If you don’t, it’s never too late to start.

Compressed air is a notorious source of noise in commercial and industrial environments. Joe Panfalone wrote about the harmful effects of noise pollution in a recent post, and he detailed typical noise levels associated with sources that most of us are familiar with. Contrasting these with OSHA’s limits can put a lot into perspective.

If you know the noise levels you’re subjected to, that’s great. Use that to determine when/where you need to use hearing protection. If you don’t know your environmental sound levels, EXAIR can help. Our Digital Sound Level Meter is easy to use, and allows you to measure and monitor the sound level in your environment. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Additionally, the sound levels of many of our products are published in our catalog. Products like our Air Knives and Super Air Nozzles are specifically designed with sound level reduction in mind. They’re also engineered to maximize efficiency, so, in a lot of cases, you can turn down the supply pressure, decreasing the sound level further.

Our sense of hearing is a good thing. Too good to ignore the simple steps it takes to preserve it. If you want to discuss how EXAIR products can help reduce your noise levels, you’ve got my undivided attention. Call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: http://blog.exair.com
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Six Steps to Optimization Series Summary

Well folks.  The numbers are in and it is time review our journey through The Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System.

In the first step we found that by installing a Digital Flowmeter into your compressed air system will allow you to get a baseline on just how much air your system is consuming.  The Digital Flowmeter is available for many pipe sizes and types.  We also offer a Summing Remote Display which allows you to see cumulative consumption for a 24 hour period. The meters come in either Standard Cubic Feet Per Minute readout or in Standard Cubic Meters Per Hour.  Once you have a base meter reading on what the current system uses all improvements from there on will be easily measured and the cost savings can be calculated.  This is a key step to complete optimization of your compressed air system.  Blog/Poll #1

Next we learned that by fixing any and all leaks within the system you could save a considerable amount of air.  The problem is some leaks are not audible to human hearing.  This is where the Ultrasonic Leak Detector factors into the equation.  The ULD is a handheld unit with headset and LED readout that will allow you to check all connections and trouble areas for compressed air leaks.  The ULD will ultimately help you to fix those tiny leaks that are blowing your profit straight out the door.  Blog/Poll #2

The third part of our venture is always a good idea.  Install engineered EXAIR products to replace non-engineered, inefficient blow off and other compressed air applications.   A very common application is replacing open pipes with our Engineered Super Air Nozzles or use a Super Air Knife to replace that drilled pipe you are using.  The savings will stack up quickly and the return on investment will be easily visible not to mention the sound level reduction and OSHA Approval.  Blog/Poll #3

Once you have the EXAIR Engineered solution installed then you can start cutting the air usage even further by turning it off when it is not needed.   This is very easy to do with the installation of the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control.  The unit will easily retrofit onto existing conveyors or other areas and allow you to only use your compressed air when the sensor is triggered.  Blog/Poll #4The fifth step is to make good use of intermediate storage when applicable.  Adding an EXAIR 60 Gallon Receiver Tank can not only be an easy task but can also take the spikes and surges off of your air compressor for the intermittent applications.  This will also help other existing compressed air applications within your facility by not fluctuating their supply pressure and volume.  Blog/Poll #5


The final step in our journey was to install EXAIR Pressure Regulators.  This is yet again another easy installation due to their modular design and the many sizes available.  By utilizing a pressure regulator you can fine tune the application to use the minimum pressure and volume of air needed to achieve your process.  Blog/Poll #6

Throughout the course of these six blogs and polls we have discussed numerous ways for you to reach a completely optimized compressed air system.   This will not only help you lower your energy bills but will also lower the noise level in your facility and help you to achieve an OSHA approved process. 

If you have any questions on how or which product to install in your application please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_BF

Working With Metal and a “Whole Lot of Love”

Just imagine having to remember in minute detail what you did over forty years ago and repeat it in front of five hundred people. That’s what happened to me earlier this summer.

Many years ago I lived in the heart land of England, just a stone’s throw  from Birmingham, known as Brum by the locals. Like many would be musicians I began my singing career in a band at the ripe old age of twelve. I soon found out that everyone wanted to be the lead guitarist but me I loved the bass guitar. I took lessons with this old guy (he was probably thirty) called Horace Jonson and soon I was playing bass at Youth clubs, Pubs (bars), Social clubs, Weddings, in fact anywhere “our manager, the lead guitarists father” could get us a gig and get paid. Three or four nights a week we learned our trade sometimes playing four hours a night.

By this time the influence of Elvis, the Mersey sound of the Beatles and the London groups like the a Rolling Stones had seen better times. New bands called power trio’s like Cream and Jimmy Hendrix’s Experience were the rage so our band reformed and became a trio. Amps and speaker cabs suddenly became larger than life, towering over band members at college gigs like South Bank Polytechnic. Where we played with bands like Hendrix, Cream, Super Tramp, Roy Woods Wizard (later to become ELO) and many others. Glen Hughes soon to be of Deep Purple even used my gear. We had several different names over a three or four-year period in the seventies but a musical change was on its way.

Back in Brum Heavy Metal was on the rise, bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath with Ozzy (John Osborne) were on the rise. It was a crazy time rubbing shoulders with Robert Plant at JB’s but the music was something else. Just listen to the musical progression of the albums from Led Zeppelin.

Many people ask where the name heavy metal came from? Well if you’d have been in Brum forty years ago you would hear it, see it, smell it and work in it, it was “metal bashing”. The whole area was one massive manufacturing hub and the sound day and night was like a deep rumble. The only way you can experience the sound is if a bass player is playing bottom E through four 15 inch and eight 12 inch speakers at around 200 watts of sheer power.

This summer with two friends Nathan (guitar) and George( on skins), we played live after many hours of rehearsal  for five hundred friends for two hours.  I did remember most  of the music I played and loved over the years. But I do wish I had taken an EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter with me……WOW!

Ivan Banks
Business Development

Can You Hear Me Now?

No this blog isn’t about a cell phone commercial, it’s about an application call I received this past week.  The call was from a customer that is trying to do an audit on his facility.  This was not an air audit to find all the leaks or an energy audit, but a sound audit.  The customer ran a production facility that had a regulation implemented to reduce all noise levels to 85 dBA or below.  They had purchased several engineered nozzles and air knives from us but still had open pipes and other devices in their system that they were unsure of the sound level produced.  What I offered to the customer was our Digital Sound Level Meter


The DSLM will measure sound levels from 35dB – 130dB and has a frequency range of 31.5Hz – 8 kHz, it is also NIST Certified.  The unit is used to monitor what sound levels you may have at your operator stations to make sure you are not exceeding the OSHA maximum allowable noise exposure or to find out if one blow off operation is in fact louder than another. 
With the unit in hand the customer was able to perform his sound audit and discovered that some non engineered nozzles that he thought were under 85 dBA were in fact louder and exceeding his requirement.  These nozzles were all removed and replaced with EXAIR nozzles that meet or exceed OSHA requirements.
The DSLM also allowed him to determine which of his operators were going to be required to wear hearing protection and those that were not.  The company now performs a monthly check on all of their systems to ensure nothing has changed and that none of their equipment needs replaced.  They also send their DSLM to us once a year to have it recalibrated and certified.
All in all the Digital Sound Level Meter can save employees hearing and help you to make sure that your nozzles are all performing at the sound levels you think they are.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Ultrasonic Predictive Maintenance

A while back my daughter was mowing the grass. She drove the mower up to me and said that it started sounding different. I checked it out and sure enough the belt had flipped over and was riding on its flat side rather than its V side.

Back before all the electronic monitors on our autos, savvy owners could predict developing problems just by changes in the usual sounds. Ultra Sonic Predictive maintenance is simply that. It is an inspection method by which sounds emitted from equipment are compared against an established sound benchmark of a healthy system.

The advantages of ultra sonic inspection

  • Does not require expensive complicated equipment
  • Can be used in noisy environments
  • Systems do not have to be shut down to inspect
  • Provides early warning indicators
  • Provides important data for, trend analysis, need to watch lists, and an interface with analysis software

EXAIR has an Ultra Sonic Leak Detector (ULD) which for the most part is promoted for detecting compressed air leaks. Since it is a sound detector though, it lends itself well to ultra sonic predictive maintenance. Here are a few examples.

    Bearing Problems
    Ultrasonic inspection and monitoring of bearings is by far the most reliable method for detecting early bearing failure and conditions such as lack of lubrication. Bearing analysis requires prior knowledge of the sound that a “healthy” bearing makes. A log that notes the date, location of the test area, sensitivity setting, and LED display panel reading should be available for regular inspection of bearings. A bearing will emit ultrasonic sound even when it is “healthy”. When the bearing system begins to deteriorate, the ultrasonic sound will change long before problems are detectable through any heat and vibration monitoring systems.
    Air brakes
    Air leaks in trucks can be a source of many problems. This is particularly true when a leak is small enough that it cannot be heard over the sound of a running engine, but is large enough to empty the air tanks overnight. By tracing the air supply lines and all of its couplings, the ULD can accurately isolate a leak in a fraction of the time normally needed.
    In electrical applications, the prior knowledge of the sound a healthy circuit makes is vital to make useful comparisons. Expensive equipment is not needed to check the conductivity of insulators when the ULD is used. In areas that are close to high voltage insulators (such as switch yards), the tubular extension and adapter is the appropriate tool to use with the ULD. This accessory is particularly useful when checking insulators because the circuit does not need to be interrupted
    Cracked Rubber V-belts
    Any crack in a moving rubber belt will emit ultrasound when the crack passes by the pulley.  Prior knowledge of the sound a healthy belt will give you a benchmark to compare against.
    Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems
    In a dry system air pressure holds back the flow of water. Small leaks in the system requires compressed air to be added. Simple enough but leaks tend to grow. Enough leakage could overwhelm the compressor capacity resulting in all the sprinklers activating resulting in massive water damage.In a plant where loud noise levels often exist, it is very difficult to locate leaks by merely listening for them. Most plant noises are in the normal audio range while air escaping from a small orifice will be in the ultrasonic range. The ULD or will ignore the background noise and detect only the ultrasonic sounds that are generated.For more information feel free to contact me or one of the application engineers here at EXAIR.