Compressed air, while an indispensable tool in many industries, can also present a variety of hazards if not handled with care. It's essential to recognize these dangers and adopt measures to safeguard against them. Here's a look at some of the main risks associated with compressed air and how to prevent accidents.
1. High-Pressure Injuries
Injuries from high-pressure air can be severe. When compressed air is directly applied to the skin or if there's a puncture, it can force air into the body, leading to serious medical complications.
How to Avoid: Never use compressed air to clean clothing or any part of the body. Ensure that all equipment is regularly inspected for wear and tear and make sure safety valves and pressuregauges are in proper working condition.
2. Flying Particles
Using compressed air can blow dust, dirt, or tiny particles into the air, which can injure the eyes or be inhaled.
How to Avoid: Always wear protective goggles when working around compressed air. It's also beneficial to use barriers or other protective measures to keep particles contained.
3. Noise Exposure
The noise from some compressed air equipment can be loud enough to cause hearing damage over time.
How to Avoid: Employees should wear ear protection when operating or working near noisy compressed air equipment. Regular maintenance can also help reduce noise levels.
4. Hose Whip
If a compressed air hose breaks or accidentally unhooks from its fitting, it can whip around uncontrollably, which can cause injuries.
How to Avoid: Secure hoses properly and inspect them regularly for signs of wear. Using safety clips and whip checks can also help prevent hose whip. 5. Equipment Malfunctions
Like any other machinery, compressed air systems can malfunction if not properly maintained.
How to Avoid: Regularly inspect and maintain all parts of a compressed air system. Pace Power& Air, for instance, emphasises the importance of servicing equipment in accordance with the OEM service schedule, to ensure its efficiency and safety.
6. Respiratory Hazards
Certain tasks might release vapours or contaminants that can be harmful if inhaled.
How to Avoid: Ensure there's adequate ventilation when using compressed air, especially in confined spaces. Respiratory protective equipment may also be necessary for certain tasks.
Compressed air is a powerful tool, but it comes with its own set of challenges. By being aware of these dangers and adopting safe practices, it's possible to make the most of compressed air applications while ensuring the safety of all involved.