October 28, 2022

Spooky Hazards & Compressed Air Safety

The hazards compressed air can pose if used incorrectly are very scary and should be avoided at all costs.  The following post, while a bit scary, is meant to educate and prepare you so that you can operate your facility and machinery at the highest safety standards.

Top Hazards

Electrical

It is no surprise that compressed air uses a lot of electricity to operate at its full capacity. Proper electrical connections and grounding is vital to your employees’ and your facility’s safety.  Improper electrical setups can result in shocks or possible fire starters that can cause irreparable damage to the machine and your team members.

Faulty Parts

An air compressor has many internal and external components that can vary depending on the application. If any of these parts are installed incorrectly, cheaply made, or not maintained over time, there is a possibility for the compressor to operate in a fashion it is not supposed to and potentially wreak havoc on your production and employees’ safety.

High Pressures

The pressure that industrial grade compressed air is creating is extremely high and therefore very dangerous. The point of use where the air is coming out should NEVER come in contact with anyone’s body as it can result in severe harm that can sometimes be fatal.

Noise

Some compressed air equipment is so loud that it can rupture ear drums and even lead to permanent hearing loss.

Debris

The pressurized air being released from your machines may cause debris from the environment to fly into the air at fast speeds. Any debris or particles being shot around due to you compressed air system can cause damage to one’s body or get lodged into your machine and cause a malfunction.

Lack of Knowledge

The general lack of knowledge around compressed air and proper safety leads to many misuses of equipment that result in injury.

PVC Piping

PVC piping is not supported as a compressed air best practice, and we do not condone ever using it as your industrial air piping solutions. The use of PVC piping with highly pressurized air can cause ruptures and eventually explosions that put your team members at severe risk of injury.

 

Safety Tips

Pre-Operation

Environment

It is important to make sure that your compressor is operating in a clean, well-ventilated environment, free of debris. Any pollutants in the air can be pulled into the machine and thus put out with the rest of the pressurized air, causing heath risks and other hazards. Humidity will also impact your operations and should be controlled at all times to prevent it from getting to high and moisture entering the lines.

Components

  • Valves
    • There are many valves that need to be inspected and maintained in order for your system to operate properly. Next, relief valves should never be adjusted or removed as they automatically release the air in the tank if the pressure gets too high to mitigate the risk of explosion.  Drain valves can come in different forms, but most common is an electric drain valve.  Electric drain valves should be high enough off the ground and kept far away from moisture.  Lastly, the shutoff valve should always be visible and easy to reach for emergencies.
  •  Oil & Lubricants
    • Without proper lubrication and adequate oil levels, your machine will not run efficiently or can get ruined. You always want to check the oil level before running your machine and be careful not to overfill your oil reservoir either.  You also want to make sure all your moving parts are properly lubricated with nonflammable lubricants to reduce friction issues.
  • Connections
    • Your air connection is crucial for your machine to operate at full capacity. Make sure that the connection is tightly connected to the air source and cannot become disconnected during operation.  You also want to make sure that any piping connections are on tightly and are maintained to prevent any leaks.
  •  Filters
    • Any filters in the system need to be frequently checked and maintained to keep them clean and free of debris. After a while of collecting particles and being cleaned, a filter may need to be replaced.

Pressure Regulation

Make sure all pressure regulation devices are operating correctly including their valves, air intake, and the speed. The air intake should be clean and free of particles and the valves and speed should be in accordance with the ratings for your specific compressor.

Air Receivers

The air receivers also need to be checked and maintained for your safety. They need to be draining properly, releasing any excess pressure automatically, and the gauges/valves need to meet ASME standards.

Distribution Lines

Hoses, fittings, and tags on your distribution lines should be regularly checked and adjusted to meet safety standards. There should be no kinks or bends in the hoses and fittings should be on tightly.  Tags should also be placed and updated on each line to let team member know the maximum pressure they can hold to avoid dangerous ruptures.

During Operation

Awareness

One’s surroundings in any manufacturing facility and vicinity to the compressors are of utmost importance. Make sure that you are always aware of where you are walking, which parts you are adjusting, and what others around you are doing.  While pre-operation checks help to mitigate risks for the machine during operation, sometimes details are missed and if any thing goes wrong, you should be able to quickly identify and rectify the situation before you or anyone else is put in harm’s way.

Voltage

Compressors need voltage to be able to operate and each compressor demands different voltage ratings. Make sure that you are aware of whether your compressor is an indoor or outdoor machine, and that it is adhering to the voltage limits so that there are no electrical issues.

Air Source & Inlets

Again, it is crucial to continue to monitor your environment during operation to make sure the air sources are clean and free of contaminants. Inlets should also be observed to make sure they are free of moisture or blockages.

Post Operation

Cleaning

In post-operation, you want to set yourself up to be ready to start again when necessary. The first step after safely powering down, is to clean the compressor’s environment and the machine itself.  You want to ensure you have received the proper training before cleaning the compressor itself as you need to follow manufacturer recommendations and make sure all necessary parts are powered down correctly.

 

ZORN'S PROMISE

Zorn is the Midwest leader of custom, engineered compressed air and vacuum solutions. We provide the best customer experience by understanding your applications and needs and offering an unparalleled commitment to customer satisfaction. 

Our comprehensive product and service solutions keep you running 24/7.

  • Reliable equipment
  • Trusted brands
  • Seamless, easy installation
  • Post-sales support
  • Local, 24/7 service

Our compressed air experts look forward to meeting you to discuss your equipment and support needs. Please contact us directly at (262) 695-7000 with any questions or to schedule service for your system moving forward.

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