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COMPRESSED AIR SAFETY
When compressed air is misused, it can cause serious injury or even death.
A boilermaker was making repairs on a boiler. Upon emerging from the firebox, he disconnected the air hose from a riveting gun and began to blow dust from his clothes. There was one spot on his jacket sleeve that was so embodied in the fabric that the air did not readily remove it. In order to direct more air into the spot, he placed his index finger over the end of the air hose to partially close the opening. Air entered his finger through a small puncture wound, causing swelling and pain. Foreign material, apparently made up of dust and soot from the air, and oil from the compressor, was later removed from the wound. Even with proper medical treatment, gangrene set in and the finger had to be amputated.
As shown by this accident, using compressed air to blow dust or dirt off clothing or the body is a very dangerous
practice. A strong blast of air can dislodge an eye from its socket, rupture lungs, intestines, or an eardrum.
Air forced into the blood stream can even cause death.
The protect yourself and others when using compressed air, you should be aware of the following safety guidelines:
1. Never point an air hose at anyone, including yourself, in fun or to remove dirt from clothing or the body.
2. Never use compressed air for cleaning without adequate eye protection. Use safety glasses with side shields or goggles.
3. If it is essential to use compressed air to clean dirt and chips from your work, use a proper nozzle on the end of the air hose to maintain air pressure at 30 pounds per square inch or less. Place a screen around the work area, or check to see that other workers are safely out of the range of flying particles.
4. Whenever possible, substitute brushes or vacuum systems for compressed air in cleaning operations.
5. Before using compressed air, check the air hose for damage or signs of failure. Make sure connections and couplings are tight. A loose air hose under 80 pounds per square inch makes a dangerous bull whip!
6. Before attempting to disconnect a hose from an air line, the air should be cut off, and the remaining air bled from the line.
7. Keep air hoses off the floor where they become tripping hazards and are subject to damage by vehicles, doors, and dropped tools. If possible, suspend air hoses from overhead.
8. Never use compressed air to transfer flammable liquids.
Remember, compressed air, like any other tool, can be a valuable work-saving device. Use it the right way .... SAFELY!
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