Compressed air is used in the manufacturing industry to drive tools, create motion, lift, clean, move and cool materials.
There are various regulations that govern the use of compressed air. Occupational safety in the United States is governed by OSHA safety regulations. OSHA is an acronym for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Compressed air usage is governed by OSHA standard 1910.242(b). In Switzerland, SUVA – Schweizerische Unfallsversicherungsanstalt – has issued regulations similar to OSHA’s.
OSHA regulations state the following about compressed air:
Compressed air may only be used for cleaning if
- the pressure is lower than 30 psi (210 kPa).
- chip guards and personal safety equipment are used.
This means the downstream pressure of the air at the outlet of the air gun, nozzle, or pipe opening is not allowed to exceed 30 psi (210 kPa) for all static conditions. A higher static pressure could cause serious injury to the operator. Therefore, to minimize the risk of injury in the event of total blockage, the pressure at the blockage should be less than 30 psi (210kPa). An air pressure gauge is the easiest way to check air pressure.
Chip guards are used to protect the operator and people working in the vicinity from flying chips and particles. They can either be screens or other solutions to prevent eye and body injuries. It is important to keep in mind that some safety equipment only protects the operator and these may need to be supplemented in order to protect people nearby. Furthermore, personal safety equipment such as hearing protection and full-cover goggles must be used.