Compressed air is one of the most popular sources of energy in today’s work environments. It powers a wide variety of tools and equipment as well as large machines and process lines. Benefits of compressed air include low maintenance costs, a low weight to power ratio and the ability to operate for long periods without overheating.The dangers of using compressed air are compared to the use of electricity. Just like electricity, compressed air can be deadly if not treated with respect and used properly.
Compressed air powers a wide variety of tools and equipment in the workplace, such as:
•Handheld sanders & grinders, nail & staple guns, jackhammers, rotary drills and other commonly used tools.
•Large machines and process lines.
DANGERS OF CLEANING WITH COMPRESSED AIR
A common misconception is that it is safe to clean dirt or debris from a work area by blowing it off with compressed air. The hazards of doing this are:
•Foreign substances can be blown into an eye, ear, face or into the skin.
•Dirt & debris are not cleaned up, just moved.
•Equipment & machinery can be damaged and operate inefficiently when compressed air is used.
•Some operations have a great risk of a fire or explosion if compressed air were used for cleaning.
•Operations such as grain elevators, cotton mills, industrial bakeries, pulp & paper mills create organic dust particles that can become airborne. The combination of fine organic matter mixed with air creates an explosive atmosphere. One spark could set off a catastrophic explosion.
CLEANING OFF THE BODY WITH COMPRESSED AIR
- Blowing dust and dirt off of clothes, hair and the face is very hazardous. As little as 12 pounds of pressure can blow an eye out of its socket. Compressed air that enters the ear canal can seriously lead to permanent hearing loss. OSHA code states that compressed air and other compressed gases in excess of 10 pounds per square inch gauge shall not be used to blow dirt, chips, or dust from clothing while it is being worn.
- The most serious type of air-related injury occurs when compressed air is blown under the skin. Compressed air contains small amounts of oil and other contaminants that may cause dangerous infections. Air embolism may also happen, this type of injury can be fatal.
When used correctly, compressed air is a valuable energy source that helps jobs to be easier, faster and safer. When used improperly, compressed air poses a significant safety risk that could cause severe injury.